What Christianity Needs Most I Think…

…is simple humility.

I see christians constantly speaking for god, pretending to know god’s will, thinking they know what god knows about every damn thing there is, and thinking that whatever pops into their heads when they read a bible passage is automatically what not only the author meant, but what god personally wants them to get out of it.

If I were a christian I wouldn’t be caught dead doing any of those things.  Why is it that pretending to know the mind of god strikes me, an atheist, as being more blasphemous than it does a believer?  I hear preachers and evangelists praise god and use all kinds of analogies to that effect – they say things like “god is so beyond us that we can no more understand his ways than an ant can understand algebra”.  Then why do you pound the pulpit and tell us his ways every week in minute detail?  His opinion on every subject, his will, his morals, how bad he’s gonna fuck some people up and how much he’s gonna reward other people.

Even if there were a god and the bible was “inspired” somehow, people still pretend to understand things they don’t understand and pretend to know things nobody could know.  If I were a christian I would treat the bible as a mystery, not an instruction manual for how to be superior to people.  Believers proclaim things as absolute fact and say it’s the holy spirit guiding them, but the holy spirit seems to tell everybody something different and the holy spirit a lot of the time seems to be a bigot and a moron. 

If you see two gay people and you feel revulsion, you might think that’s the holy spirit telling you that homosexuality is wrong.  But maybe you’re just a bigot.  Maybe you’re just freaked out by gay people the way people are freaked out by spiders, or grossed out the way people gag at the thought of certain foods.  Or maybe you were just raised to see homosexuality that way.  Your grandparents’ generation felt the same way about interracial couples, the nazis felt the same way about jews.  Is it the holy spirit whispering in their ear?  I don’t know that god isn’t “inspiring” homophobes and anti-semites.. But I don’t know that it is either, and neither do you or anybody else.

I’m not saying throw your beliefs in the garbage or come be an atheist, I honestly don’t care if you do or not.  But please whatever you believe in life, stop and wonder about it now and then.  Ask yourself “how do I know this?” or “do I know this?”  Or “is this hurtful to anyone?”  Because what we believe matters more than gold and silver.  At the end of the day it’s what we believe that decides our actions, and our actions decide the kind of world we live in.

So please don’t just go through life thinking you have all the answers.  Because whether there is a god or not we are ignorant children stumbling around in the dark looking for truth and meaning.  And to me that calls for some humility.


About agnophilo

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43 Responses to What Christianity Needs Most I Think…

  1. My brother in law is an atheist.  I really disagree with his political views even though I see where he is coming from.

  2. leaflesstree says:

    I agree, and that’s basically why I gave up on organized religion. If there is a god or gods, I don’t think any human can claim to know what he/she/it/they is/are thinking or intended. I distrust any prophet or priest who claims they do.

  3. TheSutraDude says:

    This might be the largest reason why being the son of a tradition of Christian ministry I walked away. My dad, himself a Christian minister, was a great guy. He respected other religions and philosophies. He was totally against any form of racism. It was other Christians around me who were not so much. I heard other preachers and their followers telling everyone they knew god’s will when it was convenient then telling people nobody can know god’s will when THAT was convenient. There were of course many other reasons I realized Christianity didn’t offer real answers but that one was a biggy. 

  4. There are Christians who practice humility. The vocal minority… not so much, and outshine everybody else.

  5. eshunt says:

    Your arguments are strong when you work at it. This is useful. Thanks.

  6. These are the reasons I left the church at thirteen, although I stopped believing in God when I was six.  Even as a child, I could see how hateful “God’s children” were capable of being.  It made me sick.  Still does.

  7. layhomeopath says:

             You make a good point!  It’s definitely one thing i like about the Eastern Orthodox tradition. THey emphasize humility, and not using the Bible as a theological weapon for your particular point of view. I think you’d even find their views on hell and approaches to homosexuality interesting.    —  I wonder if what you speak of is worse here in the States overall. Humility is not something valued much or even talked about in our culture. Confidence and bravado, and even hubris are admired. yuk.

  8. Hunt4Truth says:

    Whatever we think as individuals in the universe of all thoughts is akin to a butterfly flapping its wings for a moment in a remote place. [Chaos theory notes this may have significance] The butterfly effect states that unpredictable results can and will occur in systems that are sensitive to their initial conditions. For instance, the upset of non-Christians regarding evangelical proclamations may influence Christianity badly (for all we know), causing a loss of Christians at Church (above instances noted).  

  9. Manbeast says:

    As a Christian, I completely agree with you.  

  10. Nushirox2 says:

    I think to be a believer you can’t accept that you will never understand what you throw your faith into, you know what I mean?Even Christians need a ration-al. They say it, but I think it’s more of a last argument that sounds logical but they don’t think applies to them.I can’t imagine any human being believing something with some reason behind it.

  11. maniacsicko says:

    i thought logically people who believe in God should be the one with most humility

  12. Very wise! Many, many Christians out there needed to hear this.

  13. dingus6 says:

    The God Part of the Brain explains pretty well how they know it. It’s a good book.

  14. Yeah! What most of the mature Christians I know say is that if you think you have God figured out, it ain’t God!

  15. ata_grandma says:

    I’m a Christian, and I agree too.  I know what I believe, and I think I know how God wants me to behave, but we are not to judge others.  Humility is a rare commodity in the American Church today.

  16. shadow320 says:

    I believe in God, but not in any organized religeons. I can go along with them to a point, but there always comes a point where I just can’t go along with it. I believe in tolerance of others & empathy & understanding.

  17. galadrial says:

    Well THANK YOU.I always thought it was arrogant to assume that anyone could know the “will of God”. It didn’t fit in well with the whole “humble” shtick that I thought was implicit to being a Christian. At least until I met a few, determined to demonstrate how “right” they were to sinners…sheesh!

  18. agnophilo says:

    @hesacontradiction – Alrighty.  Any comment on the blog?@leaflesstree – I think the problem is just that we have a modular, somewhat democratic form of consciousness where different parts of our mind are always pulling at “us” until one wins out, so our unconscious mind feels internally like it’s an external force.  So people attribute that force to something outside of themselves and go around “following” their own ideas, which because they think they come from god are often half-baked (because how dare they correct god by refining the ideas further or correcting them).@TheSutraDude – I think what people generally call “faith” and “religion” is a stumbling block more than a stepping stone.  Not that there couldn’t be a better form of it, but I get the sense that many believers that are thoroughly decent and wise tend to be so despite religion, rather than because of it.  Though to be fair no worldview is going to make everyone wise, well-adjusted and moral.@StupidSystemus – Yeah to their credit you never hear them… because they’re humble.  It’s the asshole with the megaphone that is always on tv.@eshunt@revelife – You’re welcome.@EmilyandAtticus – @YouToMe – @Ampbreia – @Manbeast – @Ancient_Scribe – @amyrosy37 –  Thanks : )@chronic_masticator – I think most people stop believing in religion long before they stop believing in a god.@layhomeopath – Yeah that’s a fair point, I’ve been told american christianity is somewhat “special”.  But then give us a hundred years or so and I’m sure we’ll be more like europe.@Hunt4Truth – I don’t know that the voice of non-believers is quite as insignificant as a butterfly flapping it’s wings, and I think that traditional christianity is imploding on it’s own without the help of atheists.  Whenever it becomes legal to disagree organized religion begins to decline.  Which isn’t to say that there couldn’t be a better, more adaptive and open-minded form of christianity in the coming centuries.@Nushirox2 – I agree that the stated reasons believers have are rationales.  I know this because whenever I poke holes in them it never makes them change their beliefs.  It’s like mike shermer once said, a rationalization is an attempt to find a rational reason to keep believing something you started believing for irrational reasons.  Most believers I don’t think know why they believe themselves, it’s mostly indoctrination.@maniacsicko – On the one hand god is so much superior to us so we should be humble – but on the other hand he is obsessed with us and loves us and wants nothing more than to be with us forever and ever and ever – so we should be egomaniacs.@dingus6 – Sounds interesting, might look it up.@Donkey_Guy_10 – Reminds me of the line “if you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don’t understand quantum mechanics.”@ata_grandma – The whole point was that it’s arrogant to pretend to know the mind and will of god.  You just said you agree, but you pretend to know the mind and will of god.@shadow320 – This is good, it means your head is doing more than weighing down your neck : )@galadrial – To be fair a lot of that is just insecurity.  I think most judgemental assholes, whatever ideology they drape it in, are just insecure.

  19. ata_grandma says:

    I believe I know for myself, but I don’t know about others.  And I often have to pray “Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief.”  No one can fully understand God.  And life is full of contradictions.  No one is completely consistent, though we may try to be.

  20. Nushirox2 says:

    @agnophilo – I think the only reason they don’t convert after hole-poking is that if they did, they would have to admit to themselves that they had been wrong, probably their whole lives. About something pretty major.Not only do they have to admit that they were stupid. They have to admit that you were stupid.

  21. WorkJourney says:

    Haha… I was a youth director for years… I have seen the modern church in and out.. Guess what? Sad thing is that I agree with you…    

  22. xXrEMmUsXx says:

    Lots of thoughts jumbling in my head here.Pretty much every time you post about Christianity I’m nodding along and wishing I could stand at the pulpit on Sunday and read it to everyone.I would have to say though, I think ALL of America could use some humility!As a Christian… this all makes perfect sense in parallel to my experience in the church. We really need to make some changes as I’ve stated before in dialog with you on other blogs. This is one of the biggies.I do believe in prophesy and hearing from God… but just because you speak about those things does not mean you understand them. Saying that God inspired you to share something in no way assumes you know Him all or It all… according to scripture, we only know in part, we only prophesy in part. I never tell someone something is the will of God. To me, God’s will is simply that I love Him and everyone else and as long as I am walking in love, the details are not something I bother with in the ‘will of God’ department.I think humility and the beginning of real life wisdom really had its work in me when I realized I don’t know anything yet… and I probably will only learn a fraction more in comparison to what could be learned. Religion, unfortunately, takes this superior stance that it somehow, over years of tradition and men coming together organizing crap, has all the answers. It assumes that knowing God means we have access to all the answers (ha!)… I’m actually really glad I stopped thinking that and started realizing I haven’t a clue for certain of much of anything. Its actually much more peaceful accepting that.

  23. maniacsicko says:

    @agnophilo – “On the one hand god is so much superior to us so we should be humble – but on the other hand he is obsessed with us and loves us and wants nothing more than to be with us forever and ever and ever – so we should be egomaniacs.”well, i guess my opinion is due to me agreeing with the first part of your statement, but find the second part alien to me..    but that’s probably because you have a certain religion in mind when saying that, and i’m not subscribing to the belief promoted by that religion..on second thought, your post is directed to christianity, and hence i shouldn’t have commented by coming from another perspective altogether..  oh well..

  24. essien says:

    Through the Bible and proper understanding of it, we CAN know God’s stance on different issues. The Bible gives us the sides and the nature of God, and Christianity’s stance on homosexuality is clear. That doesn’t give Christians the right to judge, as the Bible clearly asks us not to judge lest we be judged, but I don’t think it means anything goes or right and wrong no longer exists. What we’re having today is just gray areas expanding, even churches are now standing up for gay marriage and it’s sad. It’s sad that Christianity can’t even stand up for its values in the face of public pressure and propaganda. 

  25. agnophilo says:

    @ata_grandma – Nobody’s 100% consistent, but my views on god don’t fluctuate any more than my views about the shape of the earth.  And they similarly require no effort to maintain.  I never saw the sense in trying to believe things that are hard to believe.@Nushirox2 – Why would it be hard to admit that I was stupid?  But yeah I agree.  Also modern religion tells them that belief in god is necessary and is the source of all their goodness, happiness, sense of purpose etc.  It’s just a shackle around their ankle.Not saying religion couldn’t be more than that, but a lot of times that’s pretty much all it is.@WorkJourney – Sorry : (  For what it’s worth at least church folk aren’t setting people on fire anymore.  Well, not in the US anyway.

  26. ata_grandma says:

    How do you know what shape the earth is?  Have you ever seen it with your own eyes?  And if you have, how do you know your eyes are showing you the truth?  (I may be sorry I asked this question.  Maybe next time I’ll let you have the last word. )

  27. agnophilo says:

    @xXrEMmUsXx – Yeah, many religious folk seem to be in a cold sweat over big existential questions, but not knowing is actually not too scary.  I’ve got enough of a handle on life that I can deal with not knowing some basic things (like how the universe began),  And hey, we might crack that one in my lifetime.  As far as saying out loud that something in your head comes from god, to me this is like saying that something in your head comes from aliens.  It’s not unreasonable to believe aliens probably exist or should exist logically, but if somebody claimed to have met one I’d need some evidence before I took them seriously.  It’s not a minor claim.  Claiming god spoke to you is like claiming to have a pet dragon or something.  It’s not a casual matter.  And you’d think believers would take it more seriously than I would (and be more offended at the claim being made casually and by every other person), but it’s not the case.  Organized christianity in some ways to me seems like a psychological back-scratching society, where the only rule is to reinforce and not contradict, whatever makes the group feel best about themselves and the world.  Or whatever they think will do so.@maniacsicko – What is your religion again?  Sorry I forget these things.@essien – The bible doesn’t just say to judge homosexuals, it says to summarily execute them.  And I’m sure when that practice went out the window some ignorant tool was lamenting it the same way you’re lamenting the latest form of ignorant bigotry to go out of style.  It always seems that organized religion fights for and mourns every form of prejudice and injustice and opposes every form of equality or social progress.  You are officially in the ranks of the slave owners and womanizers who came before you.  Congratulations.

  28. agnophilo says:

    @ata_grandma – Asking questions is fine.  And of course even seeing something with your own eyes is not absolute proof because of the “what if I’m hallucinating/having a delusion/plugged into the matrix” dilemma.  But the same is true of you reading your bible, how do you know you’re not hallucinating that it says something other than the words that you see?  This is a universal problem, but it’s only hypothetical.  As for the shape of the earth, some people have seen it with their own eyes.  I’ve seen lots of independent photographs from lots of different people.  And I can see the curvature of the earth with my own eyes, especially on the ocean where you see the top sails of a ship first, then the middle, then the ship itself.  Then there’s GPS etc.  A wealth of evidence.  Nothing like that for god.  Not that it’s a contest.  Also if some evidence came about that had the potential to prove the earth were flat or square I’d gladly entertain it, and if it were compelling I would accept it.

  29. Nushirox2 says:

    @agnophilo – I don’t think it is. I think people (even religious people) do whatever they want.But they use their religion as reasoning for it.Par example, if Harry Potter was a Christian, his reason for killing Voldemort would be to rid the world of Satan. (A little dramatic, I know but I couldn’t resist.)

  30. Hunt4Truth says:

    Well, I hadn’t thought of it–disagreement increasing with making it legal, but maybe making it illegal to disagree might be the last straw too–being as no one wants to give up on anything. Actually though, it wasn’t the disagreement that I meant to call attention upon. As you may notice, you’ve received a good deal of Christian agreement and even a couple of Christians saying that they steer clear from organized/Church attending religion.[He prevails in the end — He is the Beginning and the End.] 

  31. essien says:

    @agnophilo – You’re just reading individual verses and not even understanding what was going on in the whole book where the verse was found. You atheists who ironically act more learned and educated than thou make all kinds of judgments about a book most of you never sit down to read. 

  32. agnophilo says:

    @Nushirox2 – True, though harry potter and voldemort don’t exist, so bad example : P@Hunt4Truth – I’ve also had a number of people claim to know god’s will and his moral opinion on several subjects – the exact behavior criticized in the blog : PAnd christianity was the only legal form of worship in the christian world from the time emperor theodosius made catholicism the only legal form of worship in 380 AD up to around somewhere in modern times.  Even now our laws echo that edict, several states (I think it’s about seven) have language in their state constitutions barring people who don’t believe in god from public office and the only public non-believer to ever hold public office in the united states was “outed” as a non-believer after getting elected.  Even with congress’ extremely high retention rate (once you get in it’s almost impossible to get out) five years after being “outed” as an atheist he lost his first election in 39 years.  His opponent (from his own party) attacked him for voting against “in god we trust” as the national motto.@essien – Even you don’t believe that, which is why you don’t elaborate.

  33. essien says:

    @agnophilo – If your point is that Christianity calls for the persecution of homosexuals, then you’re wrong, even based on the Bible. In the singular point you’re probably basing that on, those were instructions for Moses and the Israelites when they were leaving Egypt to the Promise Land, and that was among  many other instructions.If you read the whole book and not just a verse you’d know what the situation was, and know there’s a difference between God’s relationship with man then and after Christ. Again, you guys don’t actually read or really understand what you seem so outspoken about, yet you have a lot to say. 

  34. Zissu25 says:

    Well said! I especially like this:”So please don’t just go through life thinking you have all the answers.  Because whether there is a god or not we are ignorant children stumbling around in the dark looking for truth and meaning.  And to me that calls for some humility.”

  35. agnophilo says:

    @essien – So was the ten commandments.  And acting as though the social context makes it okay is like saying “killing jews is evil, but the third reich was doing what was best in that time and place”.  As if context could ever make that much of a difference.@Zissu25 – Thanks : )

  36. Great blog, although my personal revelation that there is no God wasn’t due to being disillusioned with the way I was taught about Christianity, I just realised it was a ridiculous concept. I was about 10 years old so I hadn’t come across that kind of zealous intolerance in others by then. I will tolerate most beliefs (not all; bigotry or prejudice of any nature is out of line naturally) but I won’t tolerate being preached at by people who assume they know better than me about something that they cannot prove.

  37. agnophilo says:

    @holeinyoursoul – Fair enough, and thanks.

  38. agnophilo says:

    @ata_grandma – Knowledge is objective though.  If I can’t prove it I might believe it, but I don’t know it.@Nushirox2 – I think that might be a factor, yes.  Though I don’t think it’s a matter of stupidity vs intelligence.@WorkJourney – Thanks : (  Still christian?  Out of curiosity.

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