I recently watched a youtube post from Hemant Mehta, who I absolutely love by the way, where he spoke about "9 things Atheists should stop saying".  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2L9nuGVKdg0

It's a brilliant video and filled with lots of great tips. However, I had to take note with the point about calling Christians out on cherry-picking. Allow me to explain.

We have all accused believers of this and for good reason. Mainly because, IT'S TRUE. But Hemant brings up the point that if believers didn't do this, then the world would be filled with people like Westboro Baptist types. I agree with his assessment. I know that when I was a Christian, I had a very difficult time understanding the logic and rationale of the other "believers" around me who seemed so ready, willing and able to disregard huge sections of the book that is supposed to be the guide for their lives. But then, I'm a bit of a harsh person.

You see, I don't have time for false people. People who are phoney and fake just annoy the shit out of me at every turn. The world is so full of people who are ready to run off at the mouth and say things, but when the heat is applied, they buckle under pressure. As a Christian, I found these people disgusting and false in their beliefs. When 9/11 happened, everyone at my church was saying how awful it was and they prayed for the poor people who lost their lives. I (being a very peculiar sort of ass) was not sad at all. I felt no sympathy. Loss of life was sad, but I believed that it was God sending a punishment on a wicked nation. I really believed that the innocent who died were with God and the guilty were receiving their chosen, deserved, biblically spelled out punishment. I couldn't understand why the church was acting in the way they were. Socially, it was the right reaction, but according to a true follower of the faith, there was no need for sorrow.

Equally I never understood people praying for victims of a natural disaster. I believed in the God that was taught from the pulpit. An ALL-POWERFUL & ALL-KNOWING GOD. Therefore, not only did he know about the suffering, but according to what the Bible and the preachers taught, he actually put the natural disaster there.

Church goers were telling me that this is not a response of compassion. I asked them to show me where my reasoning was wrong, according to scripture. No one ever could, but they still felt I was wrong. Churches are full of hypocrisy.

Now, to the matter of cherry-picking. People like Hemant believe that this is a good thing. I wholeheartedly disagree. Here's why. Religion is a terrible thing that has caused untold amounts of misery, death, suffering, poverty and pain. It is the primary source of subjugation and oppression in the world, from the beginning until today.

So what would a world of non cherry-picking believers look like? Simple. It would look better. Here's why. If believers stopped cherry-picking, stopped ignoring the bits they don't like, stopped acting and started really believing, then the abhorrent ugliness of religion would become apparent so much faster and the death of religion would come in months, not decades.

If Christians (each and every sect there is) and Muslims (every sect here as well) would start following the book they say is the literal word of their respective God, people would leave their faith in droves. Non-believers would not tolerate the acts of barbarism, bigotry, arrogance or misogyny that the books of these faiths teach.

People like Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, Dennett and Darwin would be lauded around the globe and statues would be raised to them as a tribute for them lighting the torches to help lead us all out of darkness. The institutions would be crushed and looted and all the money could flow back into the society that needs it and the power would fall back into the hands of real people.

The domino effect of the destruction and death of religion would be swift, it would be liberating and it would bring a  worldwide transformation. Dreams of those like Bill Hicks and George Carlin would be realized and we could get on with the business of saving our environment, educating the entire globe and build a better world that would be so radically different in the matter of 30 years, that future generations will think we are telling fairy tales when we show them what our world looks like today.

Or am I just crazy?

Views: 193

Tags: cherry-picking, destruction, faith, freedom, hypocracy

Comment by Brian Daurelle on March 19, 2014 at 12:56am

I think your predictions for the hypothetical future are wildly optimistic; people will still do terrible things even when religion is universally acknowledged as a societal ill.  Religion, like any dogmatic belief system, can be used for any personal ends you happen to desire, good or bad.

However, I do agree that we as atheists need not fear calling people out on their tendency to cherry-pick.  It's so odd how people still manage to cling to the notion that morality is somehow dependent upon religiosity when they also spend so much time squaring their religion's teachings with their independent moral compass, which would seem to indicate that those two things have NOTHING to do with one another.  

Comment by Simon Paynton on March 19, 2014 at 7:00am

Instead of wanting to destroy religion, isn't it more constructive to try and encourage their compassionate side? 

"I felt no sympathy. Loss of life was sad, but I believed that it was God sending a punishment on a wicked nation. I really believed that the innocent who died were with God and the guilty were receiving their chosen, deserved, biblically spelled out punishment."  - I agree with you that this is frightening.  What would Jesus have said about this?  Virginia Woolf said that fanatics and extremists are callous, and she was right. 

Comment by Ray K on March 19, 2014 at 12:27pm

I feel silly that I cannot figure out how to reply to a comment here.

Simon Paynton:

The only problem I have with encouraging the compassionate side of the religious, is that is just encourages them to continue to cherry-pick and that leads to the continuation of religion.

What I mean is, encouraging them to just focus on the good side, tells them that there's nothing wrong with the notion of their religion. This is a trap. It's what has been done for decades. It is what allows these institutions to remain tax exempt, influence policy and stand in the way of major progress in areas like medicine, education and technology.

Encouraging the compassionate side of these people will not stop them from trying to pass laws limiting a woman's right to choose, the use of stem cells, acceptance of evolution over creationism and intelligent design or the desire to setup summer camps and counseling programs where they can "pray the gay away" in people.

Christians will tell you that they do every one of those acts from the motivation of compassion. the problem is not their bleeding hearts, but their cracked logic.

As to what Jesus would say about my stance when I was a believer, I find nothing in the Bible that says he would condemn the attitude of people being glad that God's judgement had been poured out on those who refused to turn from their wickedness. I can tell you that when I was in preaching school (yes I was once that far gone), I brought this up in reference to the Oklahoma City bombings (9/11 hadn't happened yet). One of my professors told me that my thinking was biblically sound, but the message was just to harsh for the world today and that I had a responsibility as a man who wanted to be a church leader to "gently corral the faithful". i asked if that meant lying and he said "not lying but making sure the status quo isn't too far out of balance." This is one of the things that prompted me to seriously examine the idea of my faith.

That's the problem with religion. There is always a justification for everything and the real need to pull the proverbial wool over people's eyes.

the better solution is to show the faithful, with the words from their own book, how deviously sick and twisted they would have to be if they really wanted to be a true follower. The secret that I think most atheists miss is not trying to show them how their book is wrong, but kill them with their own book. Show them all the places they fail as believers and show them how they need to act to actually follow the word they say, "this is the literal word of God. If you don't believe it, you'll go to hell."

Really show them what awful monsters they'd have to be to follow their own book, and they'd be much more willing to abandon it of their own volition, I think.

Honestly, reading the Bible carefully is most of the reason I decided to dump the crap.

Comment by SteveInCO on March 19, 2014 at 11:38pm

@Ray K.  When the poster works it as a blog post, you can't reply to someone else's comment.  (So for NoGod's sake, don't feel silly.)

Comment by Simon Paynton on March 20, 2014 at 4:47pm

Ray K - I don't know what to say.  You know your stuff, and I think you've put your finger on what Think Atheist is all about.  At the same time, I'm not sure you've got any solutions there.  I don't believe that battles are the answer.  I believe that somehow coming together is better.  Have you seen this guy - Jonathan Haidt, a moral psychologist.  He identifies that there are different varieties of rightness and that the left and right possess them in different proportions.  If you're not familiar with him, give this a look, from last Sunday's Sunday School.  A 19-minute eye-opener. 

http://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind

Comment by Simon Paynton on March 20, 2014 at 4:56pm

I can't help thinking that your self-confessed harshness influences how you see Christianity.  You're harsh, therefore you emphasise the harsh side of Christianity. 

"a true follower."  - to me, this is a compassionate saintly-type person with integrity. 

"kill them with their own book."  - what does this entail exactly? 

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