Tag Archives: belief

Forcing the Issue

Sarah Chantal Parro, blogger at Evangelical Outpost, has a solution for the inherit monotony of religion: Just force it.

Do you ever feel too tired, or too busy, or too lazy to pray? Do you sometimes feel like you’d rather sleep in than go to church? Or do you ever find that you’re in church, but your heart really isn’t? I am guilty on all counts. For whatever reason, my personal spirituality is the most difficult for me to maintain.

Might it be that deep down she sees the pointlessness of it all?

When it comes to most important things in life, I think “easy” is overrated; at least, I think it’s dangerous to believe that if something is right or worth doing it will always be easy.

What Parro doesn’t seem to realize is that religion is the easy path to take. Life is wrought with difficult questions – some that we may never be able to answer. Filling in those gaps with a convenient invisible solution is just plain lazy. If Parro isn’t finding fulfillment in the mundane routine of a religious life, I’d suggest thinking outside the church for answers.

Parro continues:

My husband once put it this way: “I have to remind myself that when I don’t want to pray, that’s the part of me that wants to go to hell.”

I think we’ve found the root of poor Parro’s problems. Nothing motivates a person to repeat that which they might otherwise question like the threat of physical torment. And that is precisely the service that the concept of Hell offers. “Sure, tithing and praying and attending church and fasting seems pretty silly to a rational adult, but remember that if you forget to do any of these things you will burn for eternity.”

I hope that one day Parro stops beating the dead horse of her faith, but such is the destiny of the person who refuses to think independently.

Leave a comment

Filed under Atheism/Religion

How Interfaith Should Look

In my town, there is a small group of evangelists who spend the majority of their week walking around and talking to people about God. This group has come to know and avoid me, as I have come to know and avoid them. On the rare occasion that I am stopped nowadays (mostly by newbies), the conversation usually ends rather quickly when I explain that I am an atheist and in no way interested in attending their services. I used to give them the time to talk – sometimes for quite some time – but the conversations have become so repetitive and monotonous that I lost interest.

Last night I went to the gym to play basketball, and one of those guys was there playing as well. He recognized me, and I recognized him, but we played on the same team and everything went well. He’s a good player, and I daresay he’s actually an enjoyable person to be around. We worked together and won a couple of games. We understood where the other stood theologically, but it never came up. Nor should it. In that situation, the goal at hand was to win basketball games. We didn’t have to come to any mutual respect for the other’s position in order to do that. We just focused on the game and played the way we needed to.

This is the way I would like to see interfaith work go. Furthermore, I wish for “interfaith” to become a superfluous term, because I would just like to see people work together towards common, secular goals. If the scene from last night was altered and this evangelist and I were both planting trees or providing food to children in need, I would gladly work beside him still.

It’s when this notion of mutual respect for ideas comes into play that I have a problem.

One of my greatest grievances with some atheists involved in the interfaith movement is their insistence that atheists need to be nice to and respectful of the beliefs of the religious rather than to decry those beliefs for what they are. In my opinion, beliefs should not garner respect until they have earned it, and most religious beliefs have not earned that respect. I see nothing noble in faith, so I’m not going to spare it reverence that it doesn’t deserve.

I will, however, respect the people who hold those beliefs. I will defend their right to believe whatever they want, no matter how crazy, because I believe in freedom and autonomy. I will protect friends and strangers who are being persecuted for their beliefs (actually persecuted – not persecuted in the whiny, Fox News ‘War on Christmas’ sense), even if I don’t hold those same convictions.

But I don’t have to respect or even know these beliefs in order to accomplish these goals. I am a secular person; I live in a secular country; and I will not forfeit my own thoughts and beliefs (especially in regards to religion) for the sake of being nice. Work together, love your fellow human being, but stop telling anti-theist atheists that they’re doing it wrong just because they elect not to pamper beliefs in the absurd.

Leave a comment

Filed under Atheism/Religion