Monday, January 24, 2011

Belief in the Belief in God

I’ve iterated this point in the past , but it seems all the more salient when Daniel Dennett recently reiterated the same sentiment. Most people go along with the ‘gag’ of believing in god; That is to say, most people go through all the motions that a Christian is supposed to go through to show that they think believing in the belief in god is important. At the very least, they agree that trying to believe in god is an important venture.

A person that actually believes in god is a vastly different kind of person than a person who believes in the belief in god. To illustrate, there’s probably no one that I know of who would become a martyr for Jesus. Some Christians settle down and go to church while the Jesus of the Bible demanded that we preach the gospel to the ends of the earth. (Mark 16:15) Heck, most people can’t even get out of bed for Jesus and attend church on Sunday. Those people that do make it through the door generally act like everybody else the rest of the week and you wouldn’t be able to tell that they were Christian aside from the "Honk for Jesus" bumpersticker on their car. There’s just no urgency or “get out of that burning building” mentality exhibited by Christians of this age. If you really believe in god, your actions would follow suit.

Furthermore, shouldn’t a person conduct themselves in such a way that they actually believe god is surveying their every move? I’ve made the analogy before that people tend to give their boss infinitely more respect than they do god, at least while the boss is watching them. God is a twenty four hour a day, seven day a week boss that actually has the ability to go one step further than their boss does and read their thoughts. People act a whole lot different once their earthly boss leaves the room, and there’s probably even more of a discrepancy with their heavenly boss. Aside from being in church, most Christians act as if god isn’t around at all for the rest of the week, and I suspect that their behaviors in church are more indicative of how they want other church members to see them than how they want god to see them.

Many people resume their cussing, slacking off on the job and generally just fall off the godwagon altogether. The very best of them pick our pockets and condone the practice of pedophilia. A Christianity Today survey in 2000 stated that 37% of pastors struggle with pornography and that's just the ones who are actually willing to admit their struggle. How many people would open up a porn site if they knew their boss was watching them? I suspect zero unless they wanted some dire consequences. Is this the behavior you would expect from someone who thinks Jesus is actually in the room watching their every move? I think not.

Dennett makes a comparison to Casper the Friendly Ghost. Casper would walk through walls, but he could also catch a baseball. Why doesn’t the baseball go right through his hand? People seem to notice the discrepancy but don’t mind it that much. They just go along with the ‘gag’. This is what I think Christians do today. They know it’s a bunch of BS but they go along with it. They are culturally assimilated into it from an early age and fall in love with the belief in the belief in god. They think it’s un-American to do otherwise. They love the hymns, the socializing, and group adherence but they don’t really believe in god. Their actions tell on them; they don’t act like the surveillance tapes are running.

I was the same way when I was a Christian. I often pondered why I didn’t act like Jesus was watching me if I really believed in him. I guess it’s because I never really did, and I don’t think anyone else does either, unless they’re delusional. They’ve just been so deeply indoctrinated that they have convinced themselves that they do even when they don’t. Their too scared of hell to say otherwise.

Here is a video of Dennett discussing how Christians really act and how it points to a lack of belief in God:

1 comment:

  1. What a very good post! You have have put your finger on the very important difference between belief in God on the one hand and belief in belief (which is really belief in a group of people) on the other.

    However, it is possible to love God without going to church or otherwise associating with "the people of God." It is possible - and desirable - to have genuine faith in God. And it does not require a fear of hellish afterlife to do so, for everyone is going to heaven. It does, however, require a person to have a genuine fear of God and not the fear of man that passes for the fear of God (i.e. religion).