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faith god
due diligence
terrible thing
catch 22
Proud To Be A Faithless Heathen
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Proud To Be A Faithless Heathen

Faith is a terrible thing. It has the same condescending quality as “Because I said so”. To begin any other enterprise, we are required to do our ‘due diligence’, to analyze and double check the apparent facts of a certain case—it is considered the only way to assure that any hidden caveats are dug up and any secrets exposed prior to taking control of a company, institute, structure, or piece of land. Job applicants are questionnaire-ed, interviewed, vetted, drug-tested and mercilessly fact-checked to avoid the hiring of anyone who isn’t a proven entity with known skills. Fairness is in the due diligence. Treating with each other fairly is considered the height of civilized behavior. “Trust me” has always been heard with a doubtful ear (or simply laughter).

But in the one most important part of our lives, the framework upon which we hang our plans, our actions, and our reasons for being, we are told to have Faith. Why? Why should faith be necessary to one’s understanding of one’s existence? “His ways are not our ways?” Well, whose ways are they? Is there a special logic that transcends our logic? Do we live in a world of illusion wherein all things are apparitions, visions without substance? Does the Pope say “Have faith.” because it sounds better than “Because I said so.”?

It is the Catch-22 of religions—whenever a situation seems to indicate our living in a hostile and uncaring universe which no loving God could possibly justify, we are told, “Have faith—God works in mysterious ways.” Nice line, but total BS even a first-grader wouldn’t fall for. It is only by the centuries-long traditions and the masses of people willing to swallow this bilge that we are distracted from the patent absurdity of the need for faith.

Okay, I hear you reactionaries sharpening your pencils—let’s go to the semantics round! To have faith in oneself, have faith in others, have faith in a group one is part of—these feelings are very human, very natural. But they are also recognized as fallible. We can sometimes be betrayed by a person or group we put our faith in—we can even betray ourselves. The faith disappears—faith had been put into the wrong choice. Yet we go on putting our faith in whatever seems most durable and fine. It is a part of the human condition.

An even closer-to-the-mark example would be past religions: the ancient pantheon of the Egyptians in the age of the Pharaohs, the Gods and Goddesses of Greece, and of Rome, the Celts, the Druids, the Transcendentalists, the Shakers, the Millenialists. All these faiths dominated the ‘souls’ of their era, and all of these faiths faded into the past. Even Christianity, broken into different sects, mutated by councils every couple of centuries, haunted by all the Gnostic notions now being unearthed and decoded, which were a part of Christianity but got left out by chauvinists and nay-sayers of the Dark Ages—even Christianity has no immovable bedrock on which to secure a faith in the supernatural. It is a generic term for a hundred different churches, all of which have a history of modification, reform, and argument over the finer points.

Even in Revelations we read of the ‘church’ as the ‘mother of whores’ (which I take to mean as ‘the source of all human corruption’). Our vague feelings of something greater, something unknowable (yes, I feel it too) is all we can hope to have. Once an institution arises, the process of standardization, hierarchy, taboo, internecine politics and facile judgment takes control—in the act of grasping for meaning, we crush that fragile intuition. And the iron-clad mutation that grows into an Institution flies further and further from meaning and closer to prestidigitation (actual and verbal) with every passing day.

When an American is asked to have Faith, he or she can translate that invitation to mean: “Please continue to throw money in the collection plate each Sabbath – we are currently fixing the problem of child-molesting priests and that should in no way hinder your faith in our church.” It’s an awkward position to take and I would almost feel sorry for today’s churches, if they hadn’t such a centuries-long backlog of repression, ignorance, and outright torture to get paid back for. This is the reason for the recent outbreak of ‘militant’ atheism—outrage at a scam that has been part of the whole history of human civilization. I see this as an over-reaction—but I surely sympathize with the sentiment.


Street Talk

You are a talented writer. I'm sure you get that a lot though. If you get a chance to read it, I'd love to hear what you think about "The Screwtape Letters" by C.S. Lewis.

Reply
  about 9 years ago
jack-o  

good article. i agree.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

I respect this article Chris. Not only are you expressing your opinion, you are open about it. In response to Sam's comment, I read the Christian bible a few times, the stories in there are beautiful, however, I am not Christian. I have faith in what I believe in, I just don't want to follow a man-made religion that has been altered throughout the centuries. Wasn't Constantine a Pagan before he changed to Christianity? Out of al the religions, I personally believe Paganism to be the most beautiful.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

I've a soft spot for the Druids and Wiccans, too--but in my case, it comes from researching T.S. Eliot--particularly "The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion" written by Scottish anthropologist Sir James George Frazer (1854–1941) and "From Ritual To Romance" by Jessie L. Weston (a surprisingly difficult book to lay hands on). I must also confess to enjoying Marion Zimmer Bradley's "Mists Of Avalon" series--and, as a child, T.H. White's "The Once and Future King" series. I won't be replying to Mr. Nichols insults, chief among which I count his having the stones to wish his "god" will "bless me", when he's addressing an avowed atheist--it's kinda like assuming I've never read the bible (or haven't read the bible 'closely enough') solely because I don't happen to interpret what I read exactly as he and his friends do. Fraser's book explains, as well as such things can be explained, how humans progressed from magical thinking to religious thinking and finally to scientific thinking. The present day religionists are taking advantage of the fact that the major academic studies refuting the divine source of religions--and displaying religion as a purely social phenomenum--are nearly a century old now. We rationalists are at a loss, because we have read Fraser, Weston, T.S.Eliot, and Joseph Campbell--these old, long-respected studies of the question of spirituality vs. religion answered all these evangelicals's questions before they were born--but they accuse literate, educated people like myself of not having read their book of fairy tales.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Hey, you are very knowledgeable, and you must love to read! If I come across anything that might spark your interest I may just have to do so. This was a great article by the way, i might show my boyfriend lol and see what he thinks. :D

  
  about 1 decade ago
Koko Ishe  

I like the article, but you sound angry. Are you directing this to the catholic church?

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

I was raised Catholic, then explored many other religions, then tried agnosticism, but in the end, I settled on Atheism--my reasons are in the article, at least a few of them. No, I'm actually an old-school atheist, I don't want to rail at the Bible Belt or any of that. My anger is reserved for the guy who mows his lawn three times a week--but winter is a-comin' in, so even he's alright for now.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
Koko Ishe  

haha I got you Chris"but winter is a-comin" haha

  
  about 1 decade ago

Aside from your apparent distaste towards religion, have you ever even read the Christian Bible? It seems to me that it is the most attacked book, and those attacking it usually have not read it in its entirety to fully back up an argument against it. A scholar who argues against a point that he has only heard of, but not truly researched himself (which in this case would, in fact, require you to read the whole bible), is usually discounted as having a strong opinion, not a strong argument. I would encourage you to read the bible with an open heart, and pay special attention to the correct context. I don't want to disrespect you as a writer. In fact, I want you to have the best argument possible. I just wish to see people using real evidence when presenting any opinion on a controversial topic. God bless you

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

I'm sorry to say you are an idiot

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
Gayle C  

Calling some one an idiot is very chidlish. He actually complimented you on your writing. I have to agree that if you are going to argue against something you need some facts and there is nothing in the Bible that has been disproven. In fact it is often used in History classes as the very first recorded history book. Just because you are an atheist does not mean you have to disrespect others' faith. In fact even as an athiest you have faith. Faith the the brakes on your car will work, faith that you will get up every morning, faith that your bank will give you your money when you want it. Sure sometimes you are dissapointed but still you will renew your faith and buy another car or fix your brakes. As far as evil things in this world it seems that my Bible says Satan has dominon over this world until the time in which it is appointed for Christ to return. In the mean time the Spirit of God in me guides me ...when I let Him. Of those following Christ in the way in which he taught we can endure anything Satan can throw our way. We may not like it and we may cry and ask why but true believers will accept it. I also believe in spirits and whiches they are also talked about in the Bible. I am told to be wary of them. Demonic power is real. Anyone that blindly accepts what a church tells you is foolish. Churches are run by mankind and must be watched and tested. I Thess. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil. Read the Bible with an open mind and remember the short-comings of the church are from mankind. Your reference to Revelation stumps me. I read through and can only come up with Babylon as the adultress. Chapter 17. If there is another please let me know. I shall read it again but I also do not know which version you are referring to. I think one of my articles may be on why I choose to believe. Interesting conversation though.

  
  about 1 decade ago

Gayle C-- calling someone an idiot is the payment I exact from people who throw their personal beliefs around like they were facts. Also, I consider someone who says I write well, while also saying I'm ignorant of the book we both grew up with, to be insulting me in the guise of a compliment. Now let's turn to your statements. Firstly, making likely assumptions (such as 'the sun will rise tomorrow morning') is not the same as having faith in some arcane and ancient gooble-ty-goop--and neither assumptions nor your faith are the same as facts. Secondly, who put you in charge? And lastly, why on earth would you cut-and-paste scripture quotes onto an atheist's thread? Are you looking for a fight, a challenge--do you wish to battle in the name of the Lord? If you wish to serve your God, look in the mirror and ask yourself if He wants you to argue with atheists, or do something useful with the time you have on this Earth? p.s. --passive aggression doesn't suit you.

  
  about 1 decade ago
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