Walking A Mile In Christian Shoes.

I was looking up random youtube vids and came across one from the show “the atheist experience” where a christian caller gets dropped for being horrible:

This got me thinking about tolerance and censorship and religion and whatnot.  I’ve been censored by christians many times on xanga (blocked from revelife’s featured blogs, ironically for criticizing their censorship of innocuous comments, blocked by many religious and conservative xangans) and I’ve also called into apologetic radio shows both internet and real broadcast shows and been cut off and talked over and had many a call dropped for simply making sense (not insulting or prank calling).  This made me wonder if christians get the same sort of treatment from atheists, so I wanted to (if that is the case) walk a mile in their shoes.  I know christians get blocked by atheists now and then on xanga, sometimes unfairly, but I was wondering about call in shows which tend to be a bit more professional than some 15 year old on the internet.  So I searched xanga for “atheist christian censorship” “christian cut off” “christian dropped call” etc (without quotes), and this was the closest I could find, a jew who was losing faith getting their call dropped from a christian program for asking honest questions (the host sounds like they’re about to have a nervous breakdown at the end of the call):

I recently was accused of being afraid of christianity and I tried to explain that I’m really not, aside from thinking christianity’s institutions are harmful in various ways.  In the same sense if I lived in a muslim country where I could be lynched I would be afraid of islam as an institution even if I could thumb through the koran without it’s contents frightening me or causing me anxiety in the least.  It’s the same with christianity, I blog about religion because of the effects of religion on society not because I get a panic attack thinking about maybe there really is a god.  I don’t. 

And the reason I don’t is that I don’t use atheism as a life preserver.  Nobody’s ever convinced me that without atheism life would be terrible and I’d lose my moral sense and my sense of meaning or purpose.  My worldview (of which my atheism is a tiny, tiny part) isn’t, in other words, based on fear.  Not to generalize about all believers but that fear, that anxiety that so many feel must be a heavy burden to bear.  I look at websites like conservapedia or fundamentalist forums where they create their own little pocket of the internet to insulate themselves from the rest of it and I just don’t relate to that mentality at all.  It makes no sense to fear other ideas or being wrong, to me being wrong is a joy (assuming my error didn’t injure anyone) because it means I learn something new and improve myself.  I look forward to being proven wrong.

So why are so many people afraid?  I think maybe at least for some it’s like any other phobia, if someone’s a germaphobe who washes their hands 20 times a day it’s not really about germs, it’s about feeling helpless in some other area of their life and obsessing about something they can control to compensate and give a feeling of security and control.  I think even if there is some kind of god or even if it’s the god of the bible a lot of religion is just the same sort of psychology, it’s people using the bible or prayer like a germophobe uses hand sanitizer, as something to hold onto to cope with something else in their life or something left over from childhood. 

This realization gives me mixed feelings because on one hand I feel compassion for people who do this and see that a lot of even really obnoxious fundamentalists are perhaps on some level just deeply wounded people, and on the other hand it’s discouraging because it means blogging about logic and evidence is a waste of time for these people.  That sort of thing only appeals to people to whom religion is not a coping mechanism, who do not see their religious beliefs as a crutch to get them through their day or as the one thing that gives them a sense of who they are, but as something incidental to themselves or to whom faith us such a burden it’s a huge release to just drop it.  But to people who see faith as necessary the only way to help them is to find one of them and befriend them and spend the next several years, day to day, helping them with whatever the real problem is until they’re healed and strong again.  And it breaks my heart that I will never be able to do that for a million people. 

I wish it were just a matter of logic or evidence.

About agnophilo

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18 Responses to Walking A Mile In Christian Shoes.

  1. it sounds like people are projecting their own fear onto you.  i get asked all the time why i don’t single out Islam as much as Christianity.  well, i’ve never been personally harassed by a Muslim.

  2. agnophilo says:

    @flapper_femme_fatale – It is a fair question, I might wonder why christianity takes more shit than other religions (in the US) too if I were them.  Of course I’d probably then work out the answer for myself.

  3. Kellsbella says:

    It didn’t sound like the host had a nervous breakdown; he answered the caller succinctly: Trust in the Lord. Lean not on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)Christians aren’t afraid. I shall post a bit of a piece I wrote at another site (since wild horses could not drag your athiest a$$ there.)

    That video is of a neurosurgeon who physically died. He would scoff at patients having these “experiences”……until it happened to him.When my oldest son was five, we passed a cemetery. He pointed to it and told me that those were waiting pods. That was weird. He has no recollection of saying this to us. That’s a true story. I do not believe that it is beyond our comprehension to know that Heaven exists; I believe it’s under our very nose! Problem is; we don’t see things like a child, do we? Far too frightening, really, isn’t it?

  4. My dad recently reminded me that 99% of people are not primarily analytical in their thinking. 99% of people do not approach the problems in their lives with rational pragmatism: this is a problem, or could be a problem, how do I solve it? Or how did I cause it? Instead, most people drift from emotion to emotion with no awareness of how their choices lead them to the places they find themselves. Logic and reason are not most people’s go-to method for considering things.

  5. leaflesstree says:

    Agreeing with the above comment about rational and logical mindsets, it’s absolutely true. There are many instances in which someone clings to a belief despite many times being presented with logical evidence to the contrary. I watched a documentary about 9-11 conspiracy theories and every single one was soundly debunked. Not just by government officials but by non-biased experts in things like architecture and engineering. After being presented with this evidence, most of the theorists did not react by saying “wow, I am an idiot, let me renounce my beliefs,” but with “I need to come up with a stronger argument to present my belief!” I think a lot of religious people especially on xanga have that mentality. Some people can be convinced with logic if it’s presented over and over, especially if they simply believe because they grew up that way and never thought to question it. But not all.

  6. craigwbooth says:

    @leaflesstree – Hello leaflesstree,You wrote, “I think a lot of religious people especially on xanga have that mentality. Some people can be convinced with logic if it’s presented over and over, especially if they simply believe because they grew up that way and never thought to question it. But not all.”Of course anything can become “convincing” (whether it is logical, illogical, true, or false) “if it’s presented over and over.”  That is the core of propgaganda theory.  Repetition and bullying can be used to break and to blind.  The goal of dialogue (and evangelism) should rather be persuasion.  Agnophilo, concerning your original posting, yes, I think most online Christians have felt they were treated poorly by atheists now and then.  I know one time I had posted a blog regarding some improper uses of the Bible (someone not understanding how to interpret KJV English into modern terminology and then accusing the Bible of being contradictory instead of admitting their own lack of linguistic literacy), and an atheist posted a “pulse” asking all his atheist friends (he called them that) to bomb my blog to blind side me and to drown out my arguments.  In effect, a form of group bullying, I suppose. The pulse said nothing of persuading, just bombing.So, yes, I think this happens quite often to Christians, but I think it comes with the profession of faith and should be expected.  Jesus said that if what happened to Him was any indication of how the world generally reacts to statements of faith, then all His followers could and should expect to be treated no better than He got.  Being drowned out, shouted out, blasted out, and ignored is just a part of Christianity…some of us improperly whine about it, but most Christians, not so much.

  7. eshunt says:

    I attend myself to be Christian because it benefits me. I am remade by my Christian practice. I believe that negative emotion is a warning, like heat on a gas stove, before putting my hand on the flame warns that the flame is too hot. So emotions too like: distress, discomfort, impatience, embarrassment, apprehension, feeling a loss, anger, resentments, frustrations, disappointments, sadness, defeat, guilt, regret, inadequacy, loneliness, etc. warn that continuing or repeating the same behavior is hurting. As Einstein is quoted as having said: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”Fear is not what motivates me to continue in Christian beliefs. Fear is what I move away from as I immerse myself more in Christian belief.

  8. leaflesstree says:

    @craigwbooth – So, restating logic over and over is propoganda, but restating biblical doctrine is persuasion? In any long-term argument or dialogue there will be some repetition of ideas. Most people will need to hear an idea several times, and be in the right mindset to be open to new ideas, before anything, logical or not, will be accepted or adopted. I’m not sure what your point is, or how you define “persuasion”. Either way, you’re working toward conversion.

  9. @Kellsbella – i’m not sure why it would be frightening…. children think a lot of silly, stupid things.  i used to believe that the grass grew because fairies were pushing up each blade.  that’s not enough to base a religious conversion on.  

  10. agnophilo says:

    @Kellsbella – “It didn’t sound like the host had a nervous breakdown; he answered the caller succinctly: Trust in the Lord. Lean not on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)”He hung up and blurted a scripture passage at him in a broken voice.  And “the lord” isn’t around to answer questions.  “Our” understanding is all we have, despite our attempts to convince ourselves our opinions and other peoples’ interpretations of texts are god’s opinion.”Christians aren’t afraid. I shall post a bit of a piece I wrote at another site (since wild horses could not drag your athiest a$$ there.)”

    That video is of a neurosurgeon who physically died.” He didn’t die, if he had he’d be dead.  Death doesn’t occur when your heart stops, it occurs when this leads to irreversible brain damage, making it permanent.  He didn’t die and “come back”, he just almost died.”He would scoff at patients having these “experiences”……until it happened to him.”I don’t see how experiencing something similar should change his mind, unless he thought they were lying or was just being dismissive before.  And if things we experience when we’re unconscious are real then heaven and hell are just the beginning.  And so-called “near death” experiences can be induced when someone is not near death by just causing blood loss to the brain, like those experienced in test-pilot centrifuges.  Romantically associating them with death to claim the person died and came back (and therefore their hallucinations are credible evidence) is simply incorrect in every way.”When my oldest son was five, we passed a cemetery. He pointed to it and told me that those were waiting pods. That was weird. He has no recollection of saying this to us. That’s a true story.” So kids say the darndest things therefore whatever we take from them is accurate?  Here I was looking at empirical evidence my whole life when I should’ve been paying attention to forgetful toddlers and doctors with mold in their brain.”I do not believe that it is beyond our comprehension to know that Heaven exists; I believe it’s under our very nose!” If someone almost died and dreamed about riding unicorns, would that prove there are unicorns in heaven?”Problem is; we don’t see things like a child, do we?” Some of us don’t.”Far too frightening, really, isn’t it?”Kind of the point of the blog is that it isn’t.  Please troll elsewhere.

  11. agnophilo says:

    @ordinarybutloud – I don’t know that it’s 99%.  I think people are also analytical about some things to greater degrees than other things.@leaflesstree – Yup, psychology, not logic.  Maybe it makes them feel better to think they’re the doom criers who are saving everyone.  I actually bought into the “loose change” video back in the day somewhat (I was around 15-16 and it seemed plausible).  Then I saw a special on tv debunking it and was like “oh, good, it’s bullshit”.The worst thing was the video showing that “debris” was blown from the building dozens of stories below the collapse which proves there were explosives in the building…  turns out if you look at a video that isn’t on the other half of NYC you can see that the “debris” were people desperately jumping out of the building.@craigwbooth – I don’t think this is a consequence of being christian, I think it’s a consequence of the internet.  Bullies of all sorts like the internet because it’s anonymous and there are no consequences.  Trolls abound everywhere and affect everyone.  I’ve seen christian forums hacked, I’ve seen atheist forums hacked.  It’s the internet, it’s not christian persecution.  People are dicks to you?  I’ve been told every hateful thing imaginable by religious people.  One person even wrote a blog addressing me as “agnopaedophilo”.@eshunt@revelife – Not a real einstein quote just so you know.  As for “Fear is what I move away from as I immerse myself more in Christian belief.”  This is kind of like saying “I don’t drink to lessen my guilt, my guilt is just less when I drink”.  What do you think would happen if you stopped believing in god’s existence or stopped being christian?

  12. galadrial says:

    I try to be tolerant…but quite frankly am simply sick to death of “projectionists” who have twisted their “word of God” into some sort of screwed up club. If I ask for their input (which i do not) they would be welcome to pitch me. I’ve read extensively on world religion, and their history. I know about the schisms, and “holy” wars, so in a lot of ways, I am quite the challenge. I’ve blocked people, not because I don’t like their views, but because they refuse to acknowledge anyone else s.

  13. eshunt says:

    Again, you did some great work and you came up with another interesting, provocative, and controversial topic for discussion. I assumed the topic is open and that I may reply. I don’t know of a history of exchanges that put enmity between others. We have none. I appreciate your work and I enjoy doing my best to explain what I think. You are blessed (no offense intended) with extraordinary intelligence and ability. I enjoy reading some of your work. I’d never seen the “Einstein” quote except without a citation, so, Einstein perhaps didn’t write or even say “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Do you know its origin — why it is attributed to Einstein? Re: alcohol… I don’t think that drink diminishes guilt. I abhor (my) sinning nature and my guilt is not less because of what I can do to control sin. I have drives like anyone. When I realized that it is irrational to fear God, I accepted that Jesus saying, “Leave your life of sin” is not as much a command as an invitation. His message is about hope, salvation, and acceptance of a Holy Spirit. It may seem mystical for most people. It is not so for me. As you know, I cannot explain in scientific terms what is happening in me; but it is scientific I am sure that over decades that my physical body changes and the human drives exert less influence… you may point out something else is a reason, yet it is my life and not yours that I am referencing. To me, moving away from fear means adopting and using a system of behaviors that protect me from fear (substitute emotions from the list in my earlier comment this afternoon). Any negative emotion/feeling is a warning, I think. When I’m able to use a system for handling (list) a(n) emotion/feeling, replacing behaviors that don’t work with behaviors that do work, this leads to progress, growth, peace of mind, greater happiness, etc. That growth, in the Christian system is growth in Spirit. Specific actions are required for continuing growth and progress. Some Christians don’t believe this is so. Some believe that they are saved and that all they need to do is await the return of our Lord. I am not that Christian.  You ask “What do you think would happen if you stopped believing in god’s existence or stopped being christian?” Well, I don’t imagine that. I have been Christian for a very long time, perhaps as long as old you may be. Peace Mark,Hunt

  14. Kellsbella says:

    Silly, M., you may ban me like many of your psycho sychophants have done. If you prefer an echo chamber, by all means, go for it. Somehow, I shall make it throught the day (it will be most difficult, but I shall carry on, nonetheless.)Just a passing thought, Mr. Scientist:  Why are scientists so willing to accept that all laws of science and physics are not valid in a singularity?Think carefully on it……@flapper_femme_fatale – That is how grass is grown, and it’s a shame that you stopped believing.

  15. agnophilo says:

    @galadrial – I’ve only blocked one non-spambot ever, and that was for writing about ten blogs lying about and slandering me.  I don’t believe in censorship, though some people like loborn I do just ignore.@eshunt@revelife – People attribute anything that sounds clever to einstein, I guess most people just don’t know the names of many smart people.  Things that sound clever but are conservative sentiments are usually miss attributed to the founding fathers to try to legitimize the philosophy behind them, like “any government big enough to give you everything you want is powerful enough to take everything you have” etc.  A very modern quote often attributed to thomas jefferson.  As for where the quote came from, a google search shows that Rita Mae Brown said in the book Sudden Death on Pg. 68 in 1983:  “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.”  The quote “Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results” also appears in the Basic Text of Narcotics Anonymous, copyrighted in 1982 and published in 1983.The first time I heard the quote it was the first version and was (I believe in the show The West Wing) stated as “AA’s definition of insanity”.As for the rest of your comment, you wrote a long response that didn’t answer the one question I asked you.  And I wasn’t calling you an alcoholic, I was making an analogy.  But if you have a drinking problem you should do something about that.

  16. agnophilo says:

    I didn’t block you, I replied to everything you said in a civil and intelligent manner (and you blew off every word of it).  Grow up and stop being a martyr.As for the “laws” of physics, they’re man-made axioms that all break down at some point.  Newton’s laws of motion only apply at relatively low speeds and break down at speeds approaching the speed of light for instance.  Matter and energy behave differently under different physical conditions and our “laws” often don’t encompass the full range of those conditions or properties – especially in situations too extreme to produce and study on the earth, like the conditions inside a black hole.

  17. @Kellsbella – why?  i find the real reason that grass grows to be far more fascinating than any fairytale.

  18. eshunt says:

    I did answer you. In fact, I provided some lengthy detail that maybe seemed not relevant. I think it is relevant. I don’t have a better answer. I don’t imagine there being no God and I don’t imagine being not Christian. I don’t care to do so. “I didn’t block you, I replied to everything….” @agnophilo – Is this for a particular person? @Kellsbella – The caller got cut off (2ND VIDEO). I think that the caller had some good discussion questions and points.@Kellsbella – What is a sychophant? I think you ought to discuss your theories at a new age forum until you’ve got them clear in your mind. What you wrote didn’t make any Christian sort of sense to me. People that return from near death experiences describle what happens when the brain is deprived of oxygen and then resupplied. People that describe revelation and prophecy are not typically returning to consciousness from a near death experience. People that have revelation and prohecy best have a history and/or witnesses if expecting to receive acceptance (from me). I did enjoy the video:

    . If science provides a complete understanding about how grass grows, why would an adult prefer to ponder that faries casue grass to grow? Mark put forth some honest work here. I for one appreciate reviewing some examples of how some evangelize and respond to good questions incorrectly. As for the first video, the caller seemed to be a troll. I don’t mind reading what the comments say, but making sense seems likely to be a best practices blogger responsibility, in my opinion. Don’t judge me as some sort of holier than thou because I do think that your comments are not appropriate.  Sincerely,Hunt

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