Shakesville: Your Truth is Merely Truthiness

I appreciated this post from Melissa McEwan. She spells out her “testimony” and why she is where she is with her distance from religious belief. I thought it was grounded and well thought out. It wasn’t overly critical of “belief”. It just relayed her personal story.

I particular liked this: “Where once I had judgment, I now have compassion. Where once I was creating distance from other people, I now create connection. Where once “being good” meant following rules for personal reward, now it means something very different: I value life, and the humans living it, much more strongly because I view it as finite. I’ve only got this life to get it right.”

Entire blog reposted below. It’s a great short but effective read. Thanks Sunny!

Reposted in entirety without permission. Stop by shakespearessister and say hello soon.

Although the new Banana Boys video is amusing in its ham-fistedness, I want to be serious for just a moment about its inclusion of one my particular bailiwicks—the claim that god-belief/religion/god(s) is the singular genesis of morality.

Sayeth Kirk Cameron: “Only God can take the sinful heart of a man or a woman and cause them to love that which is right and just and good.”

Sayeth Melissa McEwan: Utter fuckery, that.

I’m certain there are people in this world who are better people because of their belief in God. In fact, I’m sure there are denizens of this very community who would say that very thing—and more power to them. I don’t begrudge anyone their own experience.

My point is only this: It is not the universal fact so many religious people assert it to be. You see, I am a better person as an atheist than I ever was as a Christian.

Much of that is about religion, rather than strictly God-belief itself, but the two are inextricably intertwined for most people (and they certainly were for me). Religion made me self-loathing (no amount of bullshit about equality in God’s eyes can undermine the message of refusing to ordain women), but, worse than that, it forced me to label and categorize people—believers, non-believers, sinners, saints, good, evil, redeemed, condemned, us, them—to see the world in black-and-white binaries that closed off half my heart.

And it made me reluctant and unable to admit my failures. Despite all the emphasis on forgiveness, there was never a clear pathway to fully own that for which I was meant to seek absolution. I confessed my fuck-ups to God every week in a monotonously recited plea with the rest of the congregation, and I meant it—but I didn’t know how to apologize to the human beings I’d hurt, not really. I didn’t know how to accept criticism, or make amends. And I sure as shit didn’t know how to examine my privilege.

God may have loved me, and sent his son to die for me, and forgiven me—but he taught me diddly-shit about being a privileged person with internalized prejudices. Love one another. Well, swell. Except loving someone doesn’t always prevent me from hurting them. And getting right with God didn’t get me right with the people I’d hurt. The message of the savior was that I could sit back and be saved with minimal inconvenience, not to mention negligible self-reflection. I could be stingy with my willingness to admit to anyone other than God my wrongdoing, my mistakes. If it was selfish to let other people live with the pain I caused them, it didn’t matter: I needed God’s forgiveness alone.

I was learning how to get into Heaven. I wasn’t learning how to be a good person.

I wasn’t kind; I was judgmental, which is the poisonous soil in which a lack of kindness grows. Giving myself permission to let go of the judgment that was such a fundamental part of god-belief has been one of the greatest gifts I’ve given myself, and the people around me.

Where once I had judgment, I now have compassion. Where once I was creating distance from other people, I now create connection. Where once “being good” meant following rules for personal reward, now it means something very different: I value life, and the humans living it, much more strongly because I view it as finite. I’ve only got this life to get it right.

That’s not everyone’s experience, but it is mine—which I share only to make clear that no one, no one, can rightly claim to have the market cornered on what elicits goodness in humankind. God did not take my “sinful heart” and make me love, or even know, “that which is right and just and good.” Walking away from God did that.

Many atheists will say that walking away from God opened their minds; it did that for me, surely, but walking away from God also opened my heart.

18 thoughts on “Shakesville: Your Truth is Merely Truthiness

  1. “God did not take my “sinful heart” and make me love, or even know, “that which is right and just and good.” Walking away from God did that.”

    I wished someone would explain the dynamic involved in walking away FROM a model of behaviour that says love your enemies and your neighbour as yourself, TO a paradigm that says make up your own moral and value system and becoming a better person because of it.

  2. I’m glad you’ve responded.

    If it’s not clear that this isn’t a criticism on your model, but merely a different take, then perhaps you might not make such statements.

    Clearly, you don’t get it, if you say things like, “make up your own moral and value system and becoming a better person because of it.”

    If you have no idea what you’re criticizing, please make a better effort not to criticize. For until you understand atheism, you will continue to make statements as poorly thought out as the one you have written.

    Please feel free to respond accordingly.

  3. Postscript: The very reason why you can write that the model of behaviour that says love your enemies and your neighbor as yourself, followed by such limited knowledge of atheism (and your own faith) is the very reason why McEwan wrote her piece.

    How are you exhibiting how you want to be treated? Is loving your enemies and treating them as you would like to be treated, telling them their way doesn’t make sense to you? Your way doesn’t make sense to us, but most of us, understand why you think it makes sense to you.

    Also, how is loving your enemies and loving your neighbor exclusively NOT atheist? It is very Atheist, almost more so. Jesus’ words of the golden rule were ripped off from earlier scholars, namely Rabbi Hillel and Buddha.

    You say that atheism makes up its own morals and values? Like I said above, you obviously don’t understand atheism. Atheists are usually humanist, compassionate, giving, monogamous, selfless and honest. We have high standards of morals and values and encourage it in others.

    What sets atheism apart is that we don’t say something like, “I love you,” with any ounce of condition. We don’t say, “I love you but the words in the bible say you’re going to hell. Sorry.”

    We say it. We mean it. And we love it.

    And I love you, Makarios! Thanks for reading!

  4. “You say that atheism makes up its own morals and values? Like I said above, you obviously don’t understand atheism. Atheists are usually humanist, compassionate, giving, monogamous, selfless and honest. We have high standards of morals and values and encourage it in others.”

    Easy boy. I never said atheists weren’t moral beings. I’m just saying that of necessity, atheist moral, values and dutes and subjective, relative to the situation and built upon desire, opinion and wish. Christians and atheists may share the very same moral outlook. Christians however will say that our morals, values and obligations are objective in nature.

    1. Makarios, I finally had a hot minute to take a look at your blog. I thought you were much younger. Don’t ever refer to someone you don’t know as “boy” again.

      I definitely defer to my last response. You spend a lot of time saying atheists aren’t really all that “bright” or intelligent. It’s just as pompous to say you’re right about something impossible for you to prove.

      And you obviously don’t have a handle on the basic ideas of the big bang and evolution (two completely different things).

      And finally, as an adoptee, I encourage you to open your mind to all things possible with your children. My parents are much like you, conservative, not accepting of evolution and science to many degrees, and they put a lot of pressure on me to be a “Christian”.

      As much as you want to think of your views as loving, it comes across hateful.

      Fortunately, I can say that my parents and I get along better now than ever. But the things they taught me about hell and heaven were abusive and improvable.

      My father is the smartest guy I know. He’s very well read and I would only pay him due respect in that way, and he returns that favor to me and is very complimentary of me. So while you’re out there painting those who don’t agree with you as ugly idiots. Thank “god” there are people like my dad who aren’t damaging relationships, but building them.

  5. The very notion that you might have to say, “Christians however will say that our morals, values and obligations are objective in nature,” really does nothing to help your cause. Just like saying “loving neighbor” and then coming here to this blog and expressing confusion instead of a neighborly approval negated your original response.

    You want to be right, right? You want to go away the victor?

    If you believe in Christ, apparently you’re victorious. Yay! for you. You will win. We’re all happy for you. So what is it that you must understand, again?

    You have posthumous guarantee of a beautiful afterlife. That’s awesome! Isn’t that awesome enough to say, “You know, I don’t agree with you, and man, I’m a happy person because I’ve got GOD and JESUS! But because Jesus told me to love my neighbor as myself, I’m going to say, you’re missing out, but good for you for being happy about your station in life.”

    Is that too much to ask for? You’re ultimately the victor! Done and done. Clap hands. Pat ’em dry on my shirt.

    It’s really bizarre to non-theists that you could have the ultimate prize at the end of your life waiting for you, but you still have to attempt to convince the non-believers they’re wrong. What do you care if I roast in an eternity of fire? No skin off your teeth, right? You’ll be living it up, bowing to Jesus and whooping it up with all those cool Christians.

    Thank god there will be no diversity there, right? Yuck, that would be gross! No muslims, zoroastrians, Buddhists, hindus. Just clean Christian fun, exclusive forever holiday because you asked Jesus to come into your heart and you believe he died for your thought crimes and skin sins.

    The parade route will be crowded so claim your spot early!

  6. “What do you care if I roast in an eternity of fire?”

    I care because, like it or not, you’re my brother. We share the same earth, the same air, the same Creator.

    If you came onto my land in early November when there was just a thin layer of ice on the pond and told me that you were going skating, I would try to warn you to not do that. I might even grab you and try to physically stop you.

    And you could tell me to mind my own business, that it’s your life and you’re entitled to believe that the ice IS thick enough. Would it be loving to just allow you to go your own way? What would you do if you were in my position?
    ==============

    “Thank god there will be no diversity there, right?”

    That shows quite a profound ignorance of what Jesus taught. The Bible tells us that there will be people “from every nation, tribe and tongue.” So many people in fact that we won’t be able to count them. You could be one of them, but for some reason you find the offer of forgiveness, the freedom from real guilt and possession of genuine love worthy of mockery.

  7. You would tell me to not go on the ice because of evidence. Physical evidence. There is no physical evidence for hell. None. None for heaven either. It also assumes I wouldn’t be smart enough to test the ice on my own. And before you point out my ignorance on “proof” for heaven and hell …

    Your “profound ignorance statement” shows a reversed profound ignorance. Why is it that you would assume you know me? My knowledge of scripture, while not nearly as superior as yours, is impressive. My parents sent me to over 12 years of strict private schooling at a Wesleyan Academy in High Point, North Carolina and intense years of a Dutch Reformed inspired home life and discipline. I have a bachelors of arts from a “Christian” college called Montreat right in Billy Graham’s back yard. I even went to his house once with his grandson (touch me!). I don’t say this to wow you. Only that you haven’t begun to know who you’re talking to, so why would you make such a “profoundly ignorant” statement?

    Point of clarification on what you saw as ignorance: I was pointing out the lack of diversity in thought, not skin color or language variation. The church I went to growing up was a missions church, and that kind of diversity was no mystery to me. Oh, yes, there are lots of Christians with a varieties of thought. I know. But it’s boring and 2/3s of the world couldn’t be wrong about what you think you’re right about. Yawn.

    I imagine you’re a smart person and a good father. My friends and family are great because they accept me. I accept you. I don’t agree with you. I think your view is inadvertently hateful. And I feel sorry that you don’t see it, just like you feel sorry I don’t share your views, and somehow you see my views as inferior.

    You will not win converts by telling people they’re stupid or ignorant, I guarantee that.

    You will not convert me based on words of scripture or based on any promise of an afterlife. I guarantee that.

    You could bring me to Jesus’ feet and let me finger his wounds, and I still wouldn’t believe that he died on a cross to save my soul.

    The promise of unconditional love that includes a major condition negates the idea of unconditional love. And if I have a choice to believe and not believe, but the choice bases its condition on the threat of eternal damnfire if I don’t, there is no choice, but to choose Jesus. That’s really not a choice. It’s a threat. No thank you.

    My atheism has nothing to do with rebellion. I lead a strict moral life, thanks to the disciplines imparted on me by my religious parents. I lead this life for natural reasons and not for supernatural ideas I cannot begin to test. I’m an atheist to all religions, just like (and you’ve probably heard this) you’re an atheist in regards to Islam, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism and every other religion that’s not yours.

    I choose not to have a relationship with a person who abuses people. Why would I have a relationship with a god who would allow abuse on its people? Why should I believe that El Shaddai could pull a Job, and let the “accuser” (השָׂטָן) destroy my life and family for no apparent reason except for the whims of the unseen? I would help a friend out of an abusive relationship, but when it comes to religion, helping a friend out of that kind of awfulness proves very difficult.

    Thankfully, I’ve helped more people to non-belief than the handful of people I led to Christ as a believer. There’s no evangelism or telling people they’re too stupid to check the ice for themselves. It’s more of a conversation or two. Sharing some book titles. I don’t threaten hell or heaven. It’s just seeing the world for what it is, all we have and there will be for everyone.

    It’s a lot more beautiful than you seem to think.

    But again, you’re welcome at this table. I will continue to serve the best food and the best ideas that I can find to all who sit down. Please stay as long as you’d like. You’re welcome here.

    Completely, without condition.

  8. “And before you point out my ignorance on “proof” for heaven and hell …”

    My proof for heaven and hell is Jesus.
    ==============

    “Your “profound ignorance statement” shows a reversed profound ignorance.”

    The reason I thought you were referring to skin colour is your reaction to my use of the word “boy.” A phrase like “Easy boy,” has zero positive or negative meaning in my culture. It’s just a phrase. The only thing I could think of for what feels to me like a gross overreaction on your part, is you were taking it as having racial connotations. Are you saying that’s wrong?
    ==============

    “I even went to his house once with his grandson (touch me!).”

    That’s funny!
    ==================

    I was pointing out the lack of diversity in thought, not skin color or language variation.

    So, are you saying that there should be many paths to God?
    ==================

    “I think you’re view is inadvertently hateful.”

    Because . . .?
    =================

    “there is no choice”

    There obviously is a choice because you and I have both made it.
    ================

    “I choose not to have a relationship with a person who abuses people.”

    Well, a couple questions come to mind. Why do you presume to know everything that you need to know before finding fault with your Creator?

    Why would you be more outraged at God than Job was?

    On the other hand, I think that God uses hardship and abuse and sorrow and tragedy to draw those to Jesus who are going to accept His offer of salvation and to push away from Jesus those who are going to refuse His offer of salvation.

    What do you think of Plato’s statement, “God gives us just enough evidence of Himself so that those who are looking for Him can find Him and just enough evidence so that those who don’t want to find Him won’t be able to find Him accidentally.”?

  9. “My proof for heaven and hell is Jesus.”

    I’ll bite. What’s your proof for Jesus, apart from the bible? If the bible is proof, please explain how it’s accurate since you weren’t there when it was written and there are thousands of inconsistencies. If your response is that there are no inconsistencies, I beg you, I implore you: explain the following few examples of inconsistencies:

    Genesis 7:1 Noah was righteous.
    Job 1:1,8, JB 2:3 Job was righteous.
    Luke 1:6 Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous.
    James 5:16 Some men are righteous, (which makes their prayers effective).
    1 John 3:6-9 Christians become righteous (or else they are not really Christians).
    Romans 3:10, 3:23, 1 John 1:8-10 No one was or is righteous.

    Genesis 6:4 There were Nephilim (giants) before the Flood.
    Genesis 7:21 All creatures other than Noah and his clan were annihilated by the Flood.
    Numbers 13:33 There were Nephilim after the Flood.

    1 Samuel 15:7-8, 20 The Amalekites are utterly destroyed.
    1 Samuel 27:8-9 They are utterly destroyed (again?).
    1 Samuel 30:1, 17-18 They raid Ziklag and David smites them (again?).

    Matthew 12:5 Jesus says that the law (OT) states that the priests profane the Sabbath but are blameless. (No such statement is found in the OT.)

    Mark 6:52 The people were so unimpressed with “the Feeding of the Multitude” that they did not even understand the event.
    John 6:14-15 They were so impressed that they tried to force Jesus to be their king.

    Romans 2:12 All who have sinned without the law will perish without the law.
    Romans 4:15 Where there is no law there is no transgression (sin).

    Mark 4:11-12, 11:25 Jesus says that he uses parables so that the meaning of some of his teachings will remain secret to at least some persons. He explains the meanings of the parables only to his disciples. He thanks God for hiding some things from the wise while revealing them to “babes.”
    John 18:20 Jesus says that he always taught openly, never secretly.

    Matthew 26:74 The cock crowed once.
    Mark 14:72 The cock crowed twice.

    Matthew 26:52 Dispose of swords. All who take the sword will perish by it.
    Luke 22:36-38 Buy swords.

    Don’t forget: you could lead me to Jesus’ feet and let me finger his wounds, and I still wouldn’t follow him.

    ==============

    “Are you saying that’s wrong?”

    I am saying you’re wrong. Every time you refer to someone you don’t know, refer to them as their name, and in no way attempt to use euphemism that might degrade them.

    ================
    “So, are you saying that there should be many paths to God?”

    No, I’m not saying there should be many paths to god. I’m saying that because your bible says, “No one comes to the father except through me,” you think you have the right to claim that idea, but so does every other cult or religion that claws its ideas into its followers.

    ==================

    “I think your view is inadvertently hateful.”

    Because . . .?

    It is inadvertently hateful, because you think you are being loving by attempting to “save” me, but what I see is that you are blindly telling me that your love can save me from torment. When you say you can save me by loving me, you’re saying that if I choose otherwise, I will go to hell. This equals hate speech. The threat of torment can’t POSSIBLY exist, because of all I have said above. If it does exist, I never saw the book written by Satan in which he formulates a proper reaction to the bias of the bible.

    You have nothing to stand on. You assume you’re standing on solid ground, when you have no idea what it is you’re recommending to me as truth. Of COURSE you say you understand it. But really? Do you?

    =================

    “There obviously is a choice because you and I have both made it.”

    My point exactly. There is a choice. But when the choice I have chosen equals “hell” to you, the choice is really quite trite and doesn’t really exist. So when you say there’s a choice, none really exists.

    Regardless of your response, I still choose not “believing” in Jesus. It sounds “ignorant” and un-“bright” to you. Crazy! But true.

    And because of your first dense response to the original blog post, I don’t think this is ever going to be understood by you.

    ================

    “Well, a couple questions come to mind. Why do you presume to know everything that you need to know before finding fault with your Creator?”

    I do not presume to know everything. I am satisfied with science and moving forward not knowing everything. That way my mind is ready for new information and not locked into something that could hurt myself or others in any purposeful fashion. You presume much without proof.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++

    “Why would you be more outraged at God than Job was?”

    I am not outraged at God or Job. Neither are proved to exist. How can one be outraged at what never existed?
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    “On the other hand, I think that God uses hardship and abuse and sorrow and tragedy to draw those to Jesus who are going to accept His offer of salvation and to push away from Jesus those who are going to refuse His offer of salvation.”

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    That’s precisely why I don’t follow Jesus or worship god. I don’t worship anything that uses “hardship”, “abuse” or “sorrow” to draw us nearer to him/her/it. If you “abuse” me to make you love me, I will choose NOT to love you every day of the week. That’s the biggest load of hogwash you could ever attempt to convince anyone of.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    “What do you think of Plato’s statement, “God gives us just enough evidence of Himself so that those who are looking for Him can find Him and just enough evidence so that those who don’t want to find Him won’t be able to find Him accidentally.”?”

    Wow. Now I’m feeling like a big piece of dense rock. Are you worthy of discussion? Plato never said this quote. What is your intention in all this? Is this how you discuss your “faith”? Do you quote philosophers and have no idea that the quote is not attributed to that person? How do you expect to be taken seriously?

    I’m ready for a discussion. but this kind of tomfoolery is damn near ridiculous.

    Please explain yourself. Complete ignorance is not welcome here. That’s where I draw the line.

  10. I got this far and felt this needed to be dealt with first.

    “Don’t forget: you could lead me to Jesus’ feet and let me finger his wounds, and I still wouldn’t follow him. ”

    Hmmm. Sounds big. Would you be willing to let me know what happened? I won’t use it against you later. That’s a promise.

  11. I’ll bite. What’s your proof for Jesus, apart from the bible?”

    Why does it have to be apart form the Bible? Do you judge those documents differently than other works of antiquity?

    Anyhow, if you think you’re up for it, and I’m sure you do, you can start with this. http://makarios-makarios.blogspot.com/2009/09/why-would-that-be.html
    ————-

    “I implore you: explain the following few examples of inconsistencies:”

    And when I do, what do I win?
    —————–
    “but so does every other cult or religion that claws its ideas into its followers.”

    Hinduism doesn’t claim that, B’hai doesn’t claim that. UU doesn’t claim that. I’m sure there are others. But so what? Atheism / Scientism DOES claim to be the only way yet you seem to be a willing follower regardless. Is that a pattern in your life, being kinda gullible?

    Rather than taking offence that Jesus said that He’s the only way, if we’re aware of the huge breach between Creator God and ourselves (as you say you are), shouldn’t we be surprised that there is ANY way for our relationship to be restored.
    ==================

    “but what I see is that you are blindly telling me that your love can save me from torment.”
    . Why is it that atheists find it impossible to focus on the reward?

    . Why are atheists so obsessed with what they will lose instead of what they can gain?

    . Why do atheists reject the only offer of hope, and goodness and love that they’ll ever receive and then rant on and on about being denied hope and goodness and love?

    Does that seem logical and rational to you?
    ===========
    “This equals hate speech.”

    Pfft! Your picture looks like that of a man. Be one.
    =============

    You said: – “if I have a choice to believe and not believe, but the choice bases its condition on the threat of eternal damnfire if I don’t, there is no choice but to choose Jesus. That’s really not a choice.”

    I said: – “There obviously is a choice because you and I have both made it.”

    You said: – “My point exactly. There is a choice. But when the choice I have chosen equals “hell” to you, the choice is really quite trite and doesn’t really exist. So when you say there’s a choice, none really exists.”

    Are you intoxicated when you write this stuff?
    ——————-

    “I do not presume to know everything.”

    You presume to know enough to judge your Creator of doing wrong.
    ——————–

    “How can one be outraged at what never existed?”

    That is such a typical atheist response. Rant, rant, rant and when you get called on it, “Well, I don’t even believe that He exists.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    “If you “abuse” me to make you love me,”

    God doesn’t use hardship to make us love Him. He used hardship for two reasons:
    . That’s all He has to work with. Life is hard. I’m not going to play the game of who’s been hurt more but I’ve had my share of loss, disappointment and hurt. That’s life and whining about it doesn’t change anything.

    Having a life free from pain is not an entitlement.
    You sound like someone who thinks otherwise.

    . Hardship and only hardship is what gives us the opportunity to grow and change. In this world you’re going to suffer. You can either suffer with Jesus or without Him, but in my mind, only a fool would go it alone.
    ——————
    Plato never said this quote.

    So who did?

  12. Oh dear I think *someone* is falling back on the usual Christian ” you HAVE to beleive” tract.

    It’s funny when you’re free of the shackles of religion you get accused of ranting. Atheists don’t rant we just have to shout a little bit harder to be heard above the deluded hordes who get pandered to every day on TV, Radio and most other media – they forget that as the sort of status quo that other voices exist and luckily the Internet is a place where atheists can speak for ourselves.. But then we are strident and rant because in their heart of hearts Christians know that most if what they peddle is sanctimonious bullshit and they’re now running scared that their rich little hypocritical house of cards is starting to fall. You’re entitled to beleive in your sky fairy who doesn’t seem to have made my brothers best mates leg grow back ( which he lost in Afghanistan fighting the heathen hordes (that’s sarcasm BTW) even though his mother has prayed every day for months. I don’t ! I’m happy that way and I’m happy to accept everyone else – but religionous delusion should be practised behind closed doors for those over 21 please !!

    1. And I was just about to serve you breakfast.

      Whichever way. Thanks for your insight and ideas.

      I look forward to the explanations about the inconsistencies in the bible that you promised.

      I searched high and low for that Plato quote. I couldn’t find it anywhere. I’d be delighted to get a reference citation from you when you get a chance. I find it helps scholarly discussion to have the ability to cite the source.

      It’s interesting how talking to you, you’ve repetitively aimed criticism at my person, and shied away from directly responding to my criticisms of “belief” or of the “bible” or plainly asking where you found a quote that Plato never wrote.

      I won’t lose any sleep over waiting for your response, as I realize you haven’t any.

      Vooden, I expected you to be fachadick about your faith. Thanks for stopping by.

      You’re welcome here any time.

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