04 December 2013

A word of advice

As a random thought from an event over the past week. 

If one is a Christian (I am not, obviously), when presenting oneself at the average American suburban home in the design of speaking to a stranger of their religion in a proselytizing manner, one should not need to open with something like: 

"I know you probably have your own religion", with the implication being that this is probably not a Christian you are speaking to. This is America. Most of Americans are. So you will sound like an idiot who won't know what you are talking about to be even worth talking to about your supposed good book simply because you are not paying attention to who lives around you. I had to restrain myself from laughing at that opening line once I deduced that's what he had said (my brain was slowly getting around to the idea there was a man holding church literature out to me as though I should take it). 

I get the impression from this that there are sects of Christendom who seem to believe the secular frontier is far more advanced than people who are on the secular frontier know it to be. Most of you still believe not just in Christianity but in the "personal god" that appears basically nowhere in that text (theologians will say so and try to pretend that atheists don't know what they're talking about when they attack this concept). It's not going anywhere, your faith. I would like to be able to say otherwise. But it's just not. And pretending that it has, or will, well you then you just look like you have no comprehension of reality and the actual power and spread of religious folks like yourself. I know you're trying hard, I can see that. Try in a different direction. Really. Because you sound like a complete moron. I'm trying to be helpful here. 

Following it up with "there are some people who don't even believe god is real" was just bonus gravy for setting me up for shutting the door on the "yes, I'm one of those, thanks. Now go away." I will talk to people about religion, about dogma, and about theology, unlike many atheists. Who frankly find these topics too tedious to put up with in the daily arena and find better things to do with their time. I find the psychological effects of various rituals interesting. I find the mythologies involved amusing. I find its mastery over thousands of years of us-them tribalist dimensions of thought to be disturbing but interesting in its implications for our other moral behaviors (like political ideologies, political parties, and nationalism), in that religion like the others occasionally manages to start something useful at least within those communities, at the cost of creating rivals and outgroups. So while I don't find the arguments compelling or logical, I can enjoy having them with, some. Not all, but some. I find I upset many religious people for one reason or another. I find there are some notions of dogma (but not the high-level theology), that I find quite simply offensive and harmful to the human condition and its necessary moral dimensions for getting along and existing and pointing that out can be annoying. 

What I won't do is have such an argument on my doorstep with a stranger who has crafted a prepared speech with an empty head when I'm probably trying to make a lunch. Food wins over boring rehearsed metaphysical arguments. Open with something a little less absurd. Try asking if you're really that unsure of your community. 
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