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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Game

In view of some of the recent comments, I'm going to expose a certain stereotype for the purpose of discussion. It's a prominent and identifiable one, but what I'm about to share does not apply universally to everyone, so bear with me. I've noticed that this game has been played wherever our former religious experiences have been discussed. It starts with:

"Hi, I'm an atheist, and I'm just so intelligent! Let me acquaint you with the only logical method of determining valid information, and the only rational and acceptable way of interpreting it, and then you'll become an atheist, too, unless of course you are just plain stupid!"

Why don't more believers take this bait, and cross over? The fact is, people make benefit assessments in their lives, related to purchases, friendships, relationships, career choice, and even their faith. For some, faith provides benefits which non-belief simply cannot replace. In fact, it often acts as an all purpose solution, or a one-stop shopping center for a wide collection of needs and desirables, especially if one is raising a family. How can an evangelizing atheist replace these tangibles and intangibles with something of greater or equal value? He can't. All he has to offer is a vacuum. Nothingness. It's like a eunuch going to a dance club to try to pick up women.

Back when I built and rode Triumphs, there were always Harley guys who acted as if they were bigger and badder, had bigger dicks, and were more authentic bikers, just because they rode HD.
One of the lessons from life's school of hard knocks is that, no matter our talents, there is generally someone else who has greater talent. Name the criteria. If you start a contest, sometimes you're going to win and sometimes you're going to lose. What you have is what you have, and successful people learn to use what they have effectively. There will always be someone with a higher IQ, more wealth, bigger muscles, hotter cars or bikes, more lovers, better fighting skills, or more persuasive and magnetic personality. What is true is that often people will become jealous and resent formidably strong or obviously superior types. Idolization and imitation are not universal reactions by any means.

The WCG was a seeker group. The ministry was dedicated to attracting people who either had not thought much about belief, or were looking for solutions to some of life's more vexing problems. The church would seek and pick up whatever stragglers they could find, usually by pretending to provide special information which nobody else had, and to use this information to intellectually back prospectives into a corner, leaving them no other logical course but to join up. No matter that the vast majority of the people who heard the message simply tuned it out as being ridiculous. Many ex-members still have retained this methodology, and since it worked at one time on them, they use it in attempting to spread their new ideas, often with missionary zeal.

I'll concede the fact that many non-believers are indeed happier and better adjusted than those like ourselves who have had or are having a bad religious experience. However, for the most part, Christians have some pretty awesome coping skills, and quite a sense of community. Generally, they help one another, and humanity at large, sharing many of their talents and resources. And, yes you can find these qualities and sense of community elsewhere, if you know where to look. It's just that they seem to be concentrated in the Christian community. In terms of intelligence, interests, and abilities, believers mirror society at large, making it easy for anyone to find and form friendships. Friendship is also a very powerful motivating factor in keeping people attached to any collective group. It's one of the major adjustment problems many of the people who left WCG have cited in their lives.

Benefit assessment is the reason why happy believers do not succumb to the charms and persuasive powers of the "Elvis of Atheism" types. Just in case anyone happened to be wondering.



Ralph said...

Well, BB, I suppose I am an atheist in regard to human religions, because I'm certain there is no human religious organization that can represent God.

As to atheists having the only logical method of determining valid information, I'm afraid they are pretty much in command.

As I've already pointed out many times, there exists no decision procedure to prove any special relationship to God, and Paul clearly verifies that fact, as well as saying there exists no free will choice on the part of humans to become "elect".

This, in fact, puts atheism in charge, since they do not try to develop a logic system that has no possibility of proof.

As to the3 choice of becoming christian, even by biblical standards, that is a purely physical choice that demonstrates nothing of any special connections to God. As James pointed out, Pure and undefiled religion is to visit the fatherless and the widows and be unspotted from the world.

That doesn't really signify any special connections to God. It's just a very simple definition of religon. Any religion.

But, even assuming that the atheist has nothing other than a vacuum to offer, what, exactly, does the christian have to offer, other than the same vacuum?

The simple fact is, if the christian could offer more in terms of logic and reason, that very fact would be convincing proof to the atheist.

If you choose christianity, you are faced with two basic conclusions:
1. There is no God, since neither christians nor atheists have ever demonstrated his existence
2.If there is a God, he isn't looking for freewill decisions, and "salvation" cannot be dependent on human knowledge.

Basically, Paul opted for the second choice, which as far as God is concerned, makes christians and atheists pretty much equal.

If you choose to believe in the biblical God, you would have to do as Paul, and simply accept that there cannot be any decision process of which any human is capable that would place the christian "above" the atheist.

The Painful Truth said...

Bob pens.....
"I'll concede the fact that many non-believers are indeed happier and better adjusted than those like ourselves who have had or are having a bad religious experience."

Why are the non-believers happier? No longer fearing a tyrannical god is one answer I chose. Not really giving a damn is another.

I chose to listen to my inner voice that I ignored for so many years as I suffered through the Armstrong experience.

Never again will I chose to follow any man, be it religious or political. I will never again chose to believe Armstrong's deep-seated belief that we can all live together happily under Gods laws, like the members of some 1960s-style dope-smoking commune.

I would rather to live in a world of make-believe, with flowers and bells and leprechauns and magic frogs with funny little hats before I would ever again listen to some charlatan behind the curtain playing as if the Wizard of Oz.

Pull back the curtain and you'll see a hostile, blasphemous and flagitious phallocentrism mouthpiece hiding behind it, furiously pulling the levers of chicanery.

Ralph said...

"flagitious, phallocentrism mouthpiece". That's good.

Allen C. Dexter said...

My vocabulary just grew a bit. I had to look up what those words meant, and I agree with Ralph. That was extremely good.

Retired Prof said...

Also, "furiously pulling the levers of chicanery."

Good stuff, man.

The Painful Truth said...

"flagitious, phallocentrism mouthpiece". That's good.

Translation: Criminal dick head.

Anon said...

BB says: "Hi, I'm an atheist, and I'm just so intelligent! Let me acquaint you with the only logical method of determining valid information, and the only rational and acceptable way of interpreting it, and then you'll become an atheist, too, unless of course you are just plain stupid!"

You call that exposing a stereotype?

I classify myself much more a non-believer than an atheist but both labels apply to one extreme or another.

My approach is this... Hi, I'm a non-believer and once I applied the answer, "the christian god doesn't exist", a lot of previously unanswerable questions suddenly made a lot of sense. Questions like why weren't my prayers answered, why did little Johnny have to die, why aren't amputees healed? why is the bible full of so many contradictions, etc.

And I'm a lot happier now than I was in the christian mindset of guilt and needing the blood sacrifice of a virgin jesus to atone for my sins.


Ralph said...

BB, in your conclusion, you just described purely evolutionary process corresponding to both the ideas of Dawkins and E.O.Wilson in Sociobiology.

Insects and animals seek exactly the type of community you describe by genetic sharing. Religion, however, tends to restore those same genetic reproductive relationships by minimizing change through strict laws that prohibit intermarriage without consistent beliefs, behaviors that ensure continuity of the "species".

What you argue for can be explained purely within the context of sociobiology and epigenetics.

Neotherm said...

As an article of faith, I believe there is no value in the debate between atheists and Christians concerning the existence of God. This debate has raged for centuries with no resolution. An
extraordinary amount of material has been written on this topic. It is extremely unlikely that within the venue of this blog we will see any new ideas introduced. The debate tempts us to tilt at windmills or become pedantic bullies. We all want to feel as if the debate hinges on our
personal involvement, but it does not. We all want to have our 15 seconds of internet fame and feel that we won the battle for
our side. But that is just a transient feeling.

I don't mind jousting for fun. I do mind the discourteous behavior that this debate seems to elicit. Our nation is currently awash in this attitude.

We are experts on Armstrongism. I think that is where we make our best contribution.

-- Neo

Corky said...

"The Game" would be religion.

Con-game, that is. Slick talkers that talk the money right out of your billfold or purse.

In this, the world's greatest con-game you want to be a leader and not a follower. The leaders rake in the dough while the followers have to cough up the dough.

I don't think believers are stupid at all, just conned. If they can't see where their money is going to a man instead of to God, then they become stupid.

And, what man is better than another man? Believers hold their priests in high esteem but what do they know of a God any more than anyone else?

Sure, they have convinced their followers that their priests know the mind of their God, but do they or have they just put themselves on that pedestal?

They have placed themselves on that pedestal by attending a Seminary or Bible School and know their church's doctrine inside out. But hey, does that make the doctrine of their church right?

Evidently it doesn't because they often change their church affiliation to one of the other 38,000 choices.

It's kind of funny because the original apostles of the church were poor, filthy, uneducated fishermen from a small lake in Galilee. Don't let the name "Sea" fool you, it's a lake, and there is no way you can get lost on a lake where you can see the shore on either side no matter where you are on this lake.

Talk about a game. Life is no game but there are those who will run a game on you for your money and your life.

The best con-men are those who delude themselves that the con they are running is no con at all. They become believers in their own con-game.

If you tell a lie long enough and often enough, you will end up believing it yourself.

It works the same for believers and non-believers too. Atheists also have their memes. So, it would be a good idea to check out every story before repeating it.

Ralph said...

Neo, and Corky, both of you have just demonstrated the brilliance of Romans chapter 8 and 9.

You have just declared mutually what I've been saying from the start. There exists no possible decision by men to organize in God's name, which make the christian and atheists irrelevant in their conclusions.

If God exists, "he?" dioes the choosing, and we change nothing. We are therefore free from all religious organizations. If God does not exist, then thre same conclusions apply physically, and we're STILL free from all religious organizations.

Neo, you just stated my main points, and Corky, so did you.

Corky said...

Ralph said...
Neo, you just stated my main points, and Corky, so did you.

That's because I agree with what you are saying, I just don't agree that that is what Paul is meaning.

It's good to draw that conclusion from what Paul and Jesus said but I'm afraid you are the only one who gets your conclusions from Romans and Matthew.

What I get from Paul is "repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus and be saved from Adamic Condemnation".

From Jesus I get, "if you want to live, keep the commandments".

I do see what you are talking about but I don't see that that is what Jesus and Paul were risking their lives to preach.

It could be, I suppose, but to me it was the resurrection of the righteous that was preached.

There is always the possibility that the resurrection into the kingdom of God is a metaphor for what you have been saying. But, if it was, it didn't get a mention in any of the early church father's expositions of heresies. So, evidently no one believed that the resurrection was only a metaphor.

The literal existence of Jesus as a flesh and blood man was disputed by the early church fathers - if you count the writer of 2&3 John as an early church father - so that heresy did exist in the late first century.

Also the bodily return of Jesus was also disputed in 1&2 Peter.

Ralph said...

Yes, Corky, but since those statements are correct in terms of what we are now discovering in regard to reality, whether I'm the only one who gets it or not is irrelevant.

The principle is quite simple. Since God alone chooses, such conclusions are not dependent on any person or number of persons. If one believe it, or one million believes, it does not change its legitimacy. If it stands the test of a "reality check", then whether the early church fathers believed it or not, it is true.

So, examine the statement. If we "repent and be saved from Adamic condemnation", it means a free gift from any condemnation imposed by any person, and assuming there is a God, even God himself.

Romans 5:18: "Therefore as by the offense of one judgement came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon ALL men unto justification of life".

Within a legal context, every single person has "justification" to life, i.e., presumption of innocence.

The principle with regard to law, especially human law, is this: if you do keep the commandments, there can be no law to punish you, and since you have received "justification of life", there can only be a presumption of guilt if an accuser can demonstrate your violation of his/her rights, freedoms, etc.

That is the premise of accusatory law.

Ralph said...

Now I'm sure someone is going to ask how it is I think I can understand this if the early church never saw it or those powers that followed never saw it.

The answer is quite simple. They werene't looking for it, since the very nature of the teaching strips them of power.

How are you going to rule millions if all authority is denied you? How can you judge others if you are denied any way to prove that you are somehow "divine"?

The principle is simple enough. If the natural mind is enmity against God, then no one can claim authority in God's name.

Whether you're atheist, or a "believer" therefore, you can only arrive at the same conclusion, that you are free as an individual. Simple logic.

Corky said...

The principle is simple enough. If the natural mind is enmity against God, then no one can claim authority in God's name.

Oh, but they can, and do. They claim to have the "holy spirit" and are no longer carnal minded, therefore, they can claim to have authority "in Jesus' name". They even sign their lying, begging for money, letters that way.

It's a false claim, of course, and they cannot demonstrate the gift of the holy spirit - though the Pentecostal types try to by speaking in gibberish and do fake healings and even a fake raising from the dead or two.

The apostles and their early followers, on the other hand, could demonstrate possession of the holy spirit - or so the book says.

On Pentecost they spoke in languages that could be understood by foreigners. Later, Paul raised a boy from the dead. Every where Paul went - he could speak in their own language and didn't need a translator. When they baptized people, they immediately spoke in languages &t &t.

The thing is, today it's all fake. Was it then? Probably.

And that's the only reason I agree with you, Ralph. But, if they really did have the power of a holy spirit and could really do those things - then they were not carnal minded but had the mind of the spirit and therefore, did have the authority to speak for God.

Corky said...

Ralph, I have used your argument on some religious folks and do you know what I got? A dumbfounded look and an inability to argue against it.

That, I like.

Byker Bob said...


It's like I tried to point out in one of my early posts, the ways in which God works with us are subjective, utilizing our feelings and emotions. You will never find Him by pure objectivity. That's well known as an anti-God filter.


Byker Bob said...

As a general observation, "Elvis" appears not to be commenting on this thread.

Why that creates oral vacuum! (Following James' (PT) lead)


Ralph said...

Corky, it may be that they spoke for God. It ain't my call. But if they did, the evidence points to them saying that people are free, and if they exhibit any signs of the Holy Spirit, that, too, was to show the people they were free.

Of course, human nature doesn;t like to be free.

When I left the WCG, I was happy as a hog in slop. But after a couple of years, I had withdrawal pains. I think Retired prof or Allen may have mentioned somtheing similar. In our society, being alone just makes you feel powerless. You seek meaning, and meaning is to be part of something.

It's a waste of time, though.

Ralph said...

BB, it's very possible you found God, but translating that into a language that spreads to otehrs, that's purely subjective. It may make you feel good, but people are suffering from ignorance of a law that should serve them, but instead it enslaves them.

I could never follow that path again.

Ralph said...

Corky, that's why i like my version. I can screw with everybody! :)

Corky said...

Right you are Ralph, and I am beginning to see that more and more.

And right you are too about people feeling alone and powerless unless they belong to a group and be a part of something.

Heh. It makes a person feel less guilty if the group happens to be a lynch mob and find out later that the man lynched was innocent.

Hey, that's what happened to Jesus, isn't it?

Ralph said...

You got it Corky. Actually the lynch mob was both church and state, and I don't trust either one.

Rachael said...

Hello - came across these link about the New Atheists, which is a great summary of why they will not be successful.

I understand the argument about nobody being an Authority Ralph, but people are social creatures and need associations to be engaged in living. Unless the New Atheists can provide those associations in a meaningful way, Christianity will not be going away anytime soom.

Ralph said...

Of course chreistianity will not be going away soon. That doesn't prove it correct. It merely proves that people need social systems to vindicate their individual existence. That's the genetic replicative algorithm. It sacrifices the individual to the masses and estranges an individual from the self, making individual life of no consequence.

Thiose sam associations produce a diversity of religios "species" just as evolution develops the same species.

No collective authority has the right to rule over any individual except by the full recognition of individual rights.

Ralph said...

Rachael, in contuance of my argument, that is the reason why christianity and atheism stands in opposition, because christiany seeks to establish moral social systems, and atheism professes nothing "higher' than the power of logic and reason. But Godel's theorem already shows the incompleteness of logic and reason, and the christians can't prove anything "higher".

Basically, both argue over the unprovable. Neither will ever establish the "High ground" morally or otherwise.

And that, believe it or not, takes us right back to the concepts of law, as presented by Paul.

There must be some authority to ensure justice, but there must also be the power of freedom in opposition to that law, and Paul gave us the process by which we can ensure that freedom.

That process is actually recognized under common law, but has been so grossly misrepresented by mainstream christianity that it has become a laughingstock to all who prefer logical thought.

The inalienable rioghts of all people are said to be derived from their creator, yet the natural mind is enmity against God and cannot be subject to God.

Would that, in itself, not require that the law teaches all individuals of their rights before the law? If one were a child molester, rapist, or serial killer, the state would bend over backwards to inform him of his rights. But if the state is the accuser, there is no mention of such rights.

if the government cannot make laws respecting establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, then it must allow equal authority to explore the moral dimensions and associations of humans as they aply both in regard to beliefs and the law.

If there is an absolute separation of church and state, you will ensure the perpetual battle between the two forces, simply because we cannot ignore that extra moral notion of meaning.

Rachael said...

I'm not trying to prove it is correct. I'm only trying to point out what Bob put in this post. Some of the Atheists who post here are so smug and self-righteous that anyone who does not agree with them must be stupid.

That is not true.

AND they are no better than the Fundamental Christians/COGers in attitude and approach. If you really want to convince others that they should leave COGdom and be atheist, that attitude is not going to work. Even if you are right.

If the Atheists want to self-aggrandize, then feel free to keep posting in the manner you are. It is not convincing anyone.

Ralph said...

Unfortunately, at this point, the athreists are the new "spiritual"eaders by default. The so-called christians have tried every possible alternative and only end up with increasing confusion.

To argue for subjectivity as a guideline is to argue for blindness, and when the blind lead the blind, they grope their way into the ditch.

If the COG'ers understood the nature of law and how it is applied, they might blow the atheists out of the water, but they don't, as evidenced by their increasing splintering.