Winning the Battle

I recently received notification of a post by an ex-Christian blogger who goes by the name of Logan. I’ve been following his blog for quite some time and although he writes only sporadically, I always enjoy his posts. (Some of you may recognize him when I tell you his de-conversion was directly related to his oldest son declaring he was an atheist, which he wrote about here).

In Logan’s most recent post, related to the power of persuasion, he suggests that “we as humans are primarily emotional and intuitive thinkers. We want to believe we are primarily logical and rational thinkers … and adds … but we aren’t!” He amplifies this thought by referencing an open letter written by Dennis Augustine (ex-minister who was helped by The Clergy Project).

In the letter, Augustine describes how he left the faith via emotion, not reason. Here are a couple of excerpts from the letter:

I’m sure that I don’t have to remind you that it’s pretty pointless trying to reason with a believer. It is futile to try to reason a man out of a belief that he wasn’t reasoned into.

[…]

I’m convinced that reason … is pretty ineffective against the armour-plated defenses that shield believers from reason: the shame of sin, the terror of isolation and a fear of death (the ultimate isolation).

[…]

I think that it’s easy for people who are so steeped in a scientific environment dominated by the intellect to think that evidence and reason will make the difference; they can but only after one breaks through the walls around someone’s heart.

As I read these statements, I thought about the many times I’ve read arguments against Christianity in which non-believers have done exactly this; that is, used reason and scientific evidence in their attempts to break through the armor of the believer. While there’s no doubt this approach works with some, I tend to agree with the ex-minister that emotion is the predominant factor behind many (most?) deconversions.

Fundamentalists seem to be especially resistant to reasoning. Any kind of cogent argument is immediately dismissed … and their counter-attack usually includes emotional accusations, such as the non-believer/atheist left the faith because they hated god or their feelings were hurt or they are angry at god, etc., etc.

At the close of his post, Logan included a link to a video validating the power of emotion over reason called “Mr. Rogers and and the Power of Persuasion.” Well worth watching.

P.S. If you’re so inclined, I suggest you follow the link in Logan’s post to the actual letter by the ex-minister — and then read Logan’s comments at the end of the letter. He shares a personal story that happens all too frequently behind closed Christian doors.

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Getting Through the Hard Times

Many people are looking for something, needing value or meaning to get them through the hard times.

One of my blogging friends made this statement in a recent post and as I read it, I thought about the truth behind the words. All of us need “something” to get us through the hard times.

For many (as the writer pointed out in his post), religion answers this need. In fact, turning to “God” for support (a fruitless effort, IMO) is pretty much a “given” for countless individuals.

But then I wondered … what about those who do NOT “believe?”

Getting through difficult times isn’t easy for anyone. Nearly all of us need something or someone to “hang onto” — especially when it’s a catastrophic or life-changing event. Certainly, friends and families help, but oftentimes, they simply aren’t enough. Or, as is sometimes the case, they are part of the ones that believe “God” is the answer and you get bombarded with a plethora of scripture and/or prayers.

What then?

Please understand I’m not talking about the usual “minor tragedies” that happen in each of our lives. Certainly these events can throw us for a loop, but most of us find our way through without too many cuts and bruises. No, I’m asking about the major events … death of a loved one (breadwinner, child, parent, etc.), major catastrophe (think: Paradise, CA) that wipes out your home and belongings, a life-changing injury that takes away your ability to support yourself and/or your family, etc., etc.

As a non-believer/atheist, how would you get through times like these? You know that “thoughts and prayers” are useless, so what are the actual steps you would take when facing a serious tragedy? Where would you find the strength to move forward?

Since your response could one day help another non-believer, I hope you’ll give some serious thought to your answer. ❤

Where Do You Stand?

One of my blogging friends recently posted the contents of a newsletter she received from her Conservative congressman. In her post, she pointed out that she didn’t vote for this person — nor would she — as she strongly disagrees with his political platform, which she described as follows:

He is anti-women’s rights, anti-LGBT rights, opposes the use of renewable energy, has an “A” rating from the NRA, wishes to repeal ACA (Obamacare), supports maintaining a “numerically superior” nuclear arsenal, supports Trump’s border wall and a ban on Syrian refugees, supports a “Judeo-Christian” national code of morality, and more.

From my perspective, this person pretty much comes across as a poster child for hardcore Conservatives so I’m quite sure I wouldn’t vote for him either.

In the political arena, I suppose I would be considered more “liberal-minded” as I tend to have more of a live-and-let-live attitude towards life. In fact, I find it rather appalling when some individuals insist their perspective on life should be mandatory for everyone. It seems that allowing individuals to be who they are according to their own conscience and desires is somehow verboten.

FLASH! We are not robots. None of us has been programmed to live according to any one particular paradigm.

I am not saying that liberal-leaning individuals have all the answers. In fact, I feel many of them go overboard in their viewpoints as well. What I am saying is we are all individuals. Each of us possesses a brain and a conscience. Each of us is a product of our upbringing and life experiences.

In other words, the opinions and outlooks we have formed about the world we live in is very personal — which is why I believe it becomes a mockery to individual independence when politicians (on both sides) attempt to control the lives of others by passing laws that favor one part of society over another.

It’s a bit unnerving to see how the divisions in this nation’s political realm are gradually ripping communities apart. Insults and name-calling are commonplace, and there have even been incidents of violence. The possibility of a civil war has been mentioned by some. I dread to think it could go that far, yet the many signs of unrest are distressing.

I admit I don’t have all the answers. There is certainly evidence a nation will fail without some sort of governing body, but I do wish ours could be a bit more egalitarian.

I suppose, as the saying goes, this too shall pass. But sometimes I wonder how bad it’s going to get before then.

God at Work?

In our local newspaper, there was an article entitled, “God Went Pruning.” It was in regards to the recent (very wet) snowstorm we experienced in which numerous trees throughout the region were affected (including some of our own).

While there has been considerable coverage about the damage residents have suffered from uprooted trees falling on their homes, into highways and roadways, large branches covering yards, along with several other calamities, this particular article was about trees that were part of a hazelnut orchard — and how the damage is expected to affect the owner’s livelihood.

Naturally, the article title grabbed my attention and got me to thinking. So if “God” decided to prune, why is “His” creation going to suffer the consequences? According to the article, the farmer owned 32 acres, which produced over 75,000 pounds of hazelnuts last year. He is expecting at least a 25% loss. So why did the God that so many call loving and worthy of praise decide to take away a substantial portion of this man’s livelihood?

Of course, losing a bit of sustenance is nothing compared to the loss of human life resulting from the recent (God-initiated?) tornadoes in Alabama. Or from earthquakes or tsunamis or wildfires or avalanches …

Yet time and again, believers overlook all this and “praise God” because they (or their family or their possessions) were sparred from whatever disaster came their way. As for their neighbor(s)? “God” must have wanted him/her/them to come “home.” So sad. Too bad.