Tag Archives: atheism

Two-fer Tuesday: Spiritual Healing by Deacon Blue

As Miz Pink pointed out a few days ago, I had a small issue with some comments some folks were making at Deus Ex Malcontent. No flame war or anything like that. Not much brawling. No hard feelings (at least not that I’ve noticed so far, though I think there is some lightly gnawing irritation among certain parties); in fact, I think the discussion that was sparked was a good one on both sides of the issue. But as I thought about the whole affair and the comments back and forth about whether religious folks just “haven’t grown up and joined the 21st century,” I started to realize where there is a major gap between the atheists and the theists.

I mean, other than that God guy…which of course is the primary gap between us.

Now, I’m going to confine myself to atheism vs. Christianity specifically, partly because Christianity is predicated on God’s plan to save souls from damnation, and because this ties into today’s topic on spiritual healing, at least for my take on the topic. (No, as much as you might have thought otherwise from the title, I won’t be posting on faith healing or anything like that.) And I realize that some folks, like Votar, who has been vocal in the discussion I noted above at Deus Ex Malcontent, don’t necessarily think of themselves as atheist. Humor me. I’m already about to use a metaphor, so let me deal in extremes, too. And don’t jostle me. This is volatile stuff and I don’t want it blowing my head off.

Basically, I see a large part of the atheism vs. Christianity debate like this: We see the problem of making people (and the world at large) healthier a lot differently.

Being Christian doesn’t necessarily make you a good person. There are some real losers, assholes and arrogant folks within the Christian ranks. But what gets Christians knocked by atheists almost as much as the hyprocrisy we often show as a group is our desire to “save” other people spiritually and to keep focusing on spiritual right and wrong.

This is, I think, part of why atheists often want to write off Christians as being stuck in a 2,000-year old program of supersition. The atheists don’t like the idea that Christians think they need saving. They feel (or so I think) that we are labelling them as deficient. And so the reflex is to label us as deficient for believing in the “invisible man in the sky.” And it works the same way in reverse: Christians don’t like being made to feel like fairy-tale-believing rubes, so they often label atheists as inherently arrogant, mean and tunnel-visioned.

As I see it, though, we’re both often missing the big picture. When trying to make people healthy, there are two major things a truly great physician will do: Relieve the symptoms and locate and treat the main underlying problem that lead to the ill health to begin with. (See, finally I get to my spiritual healing theme and my metaphor)

Problem is, atheists and Chrisitians don’t see the disease state the same way when it comes to human nature and human dealings.

To atheists, we Christians are ignoring the problems of this world. They think that we are only focused on souls and praying for deliverance to the exclusion of trying to fix economic, social and geopolitical problems (and many of us really do behave this way, frankly, so they aren’t all wrong in their belief).

To Christians, atheists are ignoring their souls and their eternal salvation by being so focused on believing only what can be proven that they don’t even consider the possibility that there is a spiritual realm as well.

The truth is (coming from the Christian perspective which is, of course, my own) that the real disease is sin. The basic underlying problem is our sin nature and our rejection of God’s way. And the result of that disease is some nasty consequences in the afterlife and some here on Earth too. So what Christians try to do is to get people to realize their sin nature and deal with it so that they are set for eternity.

Problem is that we sometimes forget that there are very real wordly problems that also need to be dealt with. We forget that we need to be good stewards of the planet. We look toward the bye-and-bye and the fact that all our problems will be solved when we leave the planet and kind of fuck around too much while we’re still in the flesh.

And so, in focusing only on the core disease, too many of us Christians forget to alleviate the symptoms and just go for trying to administer the painful cure. We also forget to treat the “co-morbid” conditions that were either created by the sin nature or that were exacerabated by it. In trying to get to the heart of the problem, we leave the patients still suffering a host of other ailments that we refuse to acknolwedge and we give them no pain relief. In other words, we may save the patient, but at what cost? Certainly, it puts our bed-side manner in question, if not our basic human decency.

Atheists, on the other hand (again, in my humble opinion) are so focused on the most obvious and visible diseases and in relieving the painful symptoms that they ignore and fail to recognize the core problem (sin) and leave the biggest disease untreated. And so the biggest threat is left unresolved, but the physician and patient think they’ve dealt with all the problems. Folks feel better, but are still sick.

Metaphors are always an inexact science of course, and leave out many subtleties. So this post is hardly going to put any nails in the atheism vs. Christianity debate. Just some thoughts, though, in terms of ways to view our respective persectives, by using the medical model, with which I am well acquainted as a healthcare and medical journalist for a number of years.

Of course, I also thought my post on atheism as a religion was harmless, and look what trouble that got me into…Lord only knows what this one might spawn.

(Miz Pink’s post on today’s topic is here.)

Notes from the battlefield

armor-of-god021.jpgThis blog is very young still…and while visits are growing, I’m still a pretty modestly visited destination compared to a lot of blogs. I think I’ve done better than most in getting traction early, but there’s still a long way to go. Still, while I’m early in this journey, I think I see signs of what is to come. I’ve hit a tipping point of sorts, with some folks who are atheist (or at least very seriously skeptical agnostics) having found me and presenting some very fine arguments for their side.

I don’t shy from this, and I don’t begrudge them being here. If you click through my blogroll and “other places I like to visit” links in the sidebar, you’ll see that I am encouraging people to go to all kinds of sites, some of them authored by people who are very critical of religious faith. I’ve never promoted ignorance or narrow-mindedness among the faithful or the unsaved. The people who have come to my blog so far to question my stands have been very articulate and interesting.

But it does remind me that however civil it may be, I am waging a battle here on a field that is littered with souls thanks to an ongoing battle on Satan’s part against God. To be more clear though, I am not in battle with atheists or people of other faiths though. While there may be discussion, debate and even arguments/fights around here, I am not at war with individuals. I may have to defend myself and my faith against some of them, but my fight is not with them. My biggest enemies are the world itself and the guy who still pulls a lot of the strings: Satan.

The simple fact is that the day-to-day world we live in is a creation of us flawed humans. Flawed out of the starting gate and born in the image of Satan. Few people think they are bad, but that’s because the “badness” isn’t something obvious. It isn’t evil so much as it is a desire to be totally a part of the world and not a part of God. It’s insidious and we can do good things while still being pretty dirty inside.

Now, I’m sure many atheists and agnostics would argue that with so many people who have religious beliefs in the world, I am obviously mistaken that the vast and overwhelming majority of people are of the world rather than being about religion. But how many people are seeking spiritual growth in those religious systems as opposed to simply doing what they were raised to do or doing what they are told to do or going through the motions because it looks good to be in church, or synagogue, or temple, or wherever?

Most people are derailed both from spiritual growth and evangelism because they get caught up in the world. And that’s the way Satan likes to keep things. And he stays in the background, doing very little directly, and letting people (including many Christians) believe that he either doesn’t exist or is a funny looking red guy with a pointy tail.

The early Christian church, the one the apostles were forming, did it right. What it stood for, what it taught and how it promoted a spiritual community was spot-on. But it existed in a world where people have agendas and desires. The Word of God became something that would ultimately be used to keep people in line or derive power and privilege, and it got misused. The religion of Christianity got tainted and while it still holds something powerful and good at its core, there is a constant desire by many folks to keep it in the realm of control and power instead of people gathering around it to become more godly and spiritual and useful to the world.

So too does the temporal and carnal world around us give us many reasons to be distracted and weak. We live in a world where generally speaking, you measure success by money or power or prestige or a combination of them. How many people are lifted up and held as a positive example because they spread the Word of God? Very few. How many religions start drifting from their core to begin preaching rewards instead of service and humility? Probably all of them eventually. Let’s take the virgins promised to Muslim men in the afterlife in certain strains of Islam or the prosperity ministries in the Christian faith as just two examples.

And then there is pressure from academia against religion. Even if you go back to more “god fearing” times like the 1800s or first half of the 20th century, you will see that scientists and researchers and teachers were rewarded for what they could bring to the world to advance it monetarily, technologically or in other material ways. Nothing wrong with that, of course; I like progress as much as the next guy. But how much encouragement was there, really, to focus on research or defense of things spiritual? Much less. And so, once again, the ways of the world helped to reduce religion.

People see Christianity as something in decline and say this is because “reality” is rendering it irrelevant. But I see it more as people who are focused on almost everything but God (a tragic element of the human condition) increasingly marginalizing spiritual matters and thus creating the illusion that it is nonsense…or misusing religion for their own ends and damaging its reputation.

And so, I stand with others in the faith who know that what we know is right, but who don’t have the ammunition that the temporal/carnal world has. I’m a guerrilla fighter, not a soldier in some organized army, and that’s a hard way to fight the good fight for God and win people’s hearts and souls over to His side.

People will no doubt continue to challenge my beliefs here in the comments, and that is a good thing. Keep it coming. But I will be honest up-front that I am not going to always be able to counter their deep research and logical theories with something that seems equally ironclad. In other words, my ass will get kicked sometimes. My recent blog suggesting that atheism was a religion had some good points, but even I have to concede that there were logical flaws in my arguments and some stretching of words’ meaning. I am a writer, and I like to think critically, and I have a lot of generalist knowledge…but I’m not an academic and I’m not a debater. I’m not even much of a fighter. But I will continue to do what I must to raise up the Lord Jesus Christ here. I hope that my heart and my love and my spirit will shine forth, because those are my key weapons in this war. Because it’s all about faith, and while I can spew out logical and scientific and historical evidence to back up some of what I talk about, there is only so much that such things can be applied to spiritual matters.

Anyway, back to the trenches, folks. War is hell…and the guy at the top of the heap in Hell no doubt would like to see me lay down my armor and weapons. My words may be crass at times and my weapons not always as sharp as they could be, but I didn’t come into Christianity with pollyanna beliefs and an expectation for things to be easy. Being on the right side isn’t always the comfortable thing. I don’t doubt people in general and Satan himself will get some good shots in at me, I don’t doubt that I will be wounded…but I’m not ready to give up.

(Image from Hellgate: London video game from Flagship Studios)

Blinded me with science

da-vinci_man2.jpgBeen a bit busier this week than normal with the kind of work that pays me cash as opposed to spiritual dividends, so I’m a bit more spotty than usual with my posts. Might go for two today to make up for lost time, but we’ll see.

Some of the blogs I like to frequent, especially ones dealing with politics, arts and social commentary, are authored by folks who either don’t want to deal with church or God, or who flat-out don’t believe in any kind of higher power. (You didn’t think a guy who swears while spreading the word about God would just go to religious sites, did you? The Christian Coalition would have a collective seizure if they saw my Favorites on MSN and YouTube.) And something hit me recently, and maybe I’m crazy, but I don’t think anyone in this world lacks a religion, not even atheists. Bear with me a moment on this. Maybe I’m just spouting nonsense, but I think I’m on to something.

A lot of folks seem to think that somehow the world is a game of science vs. religion. I disagree completely. Plenty of great scientists have believed (and continue to believe) in God or some other deity. And science itself has provided support for events and people in the Bible, like the existence of the Hittites, whom a lot of Bible critics claimed were just made up, and the existence and destruction of those rockin’ capitals of sin, Sodom and Gomorrah.

So, we cannot say that science and religion are mutually exclusive. If that’s the case, what separates atheists from theists (Christian or otherwise)?

It’s the god we worship.

Yes, atheists have a god of sorts. And in most cases, their god is science. Science and faith don’t cancel each other out, but when God or any other spirit-based power is taken out of the equation completely, science (or pure reason, or some other similar thing) becomes a god. Atheists look to science to answer all the questions. If something cannot be seen, detected, measured or inferred from existing scientific knowledge, it generally isn’t worth considering its existence. Even love becomes a biochemical reaction, not a spiritual connection. Sure, it’s a damned fine-feeling biochemical reaction, but its just a product of hormones ultimately.

Yeah, that’s right, I believe atheism is a religion. It is a religion that lifts up science and intellect above the unseen world of the spirit. For most religions, their God or gods are essentially spiritual and that doesn’t wash with the atheists. Anything that puts an unseen entity above what atheists see as the pinnacle of evolution (humans) is utter dog crap to them. They see it as some comforting delusion that people would have faith in something unseen and unmeasurable. To them, it is as freakish as people who used to not believe in germs because they couldn’t be seen. Or who thought the world was flat as a damned pancake.

The thing is, I understand where they are coming from. I don’t even knock atheists for feeling this way. Truth be told, I think it takes a lot of faith to be an atheist. I’m serious. And isn’t that what religion is about? Faith. A hardcore atheist would probably whup my ass in a dark alley for saying that, because of course we can see the fruits of science, and they would say they are logical or rational, not faithful.

But what about that part of the human nature that seeks spiritual things? It seems odd that if evolution is such a wonderful process that keeps making creatures better and better and more adapted to their environment that it would give us all this intellect and reasoning and install some freaking flaw that has us looking for the divine. Just as the non-atheists have faith in the existence of spiritual things, so do atheists cling to a faith that such feelings are flawed and that no spiritual aspect exists. No soul. Nothing but a really advanced collection of water and trace minerals in a two-legged sack of skin.

Shit, that’s some serious faith. Because humans long for spiritual connection. I think that’s because the connection was broken by the first two real spiritually developed humans (I touch on this a little in my post Who Really Blew It In Eden?). God had to let us stew in our own juices for a while and work through the world and his “chosen people” the Hebrews to get us Jesus, who would restore that connection. Not everyone accepts that Jesus is that spiritual missing link, but then again, no one agrees that we’ve found an evolutionary missing link yet bewtween apes and primitive humans either. But atheists have to write that spiritual longing off as a flaw, just as I, as a man of spiritual faith, have to deal with the fact that God wants me to approach Him with faith and not show Himself to me in some rational, physical way. We all have our crosses to bear in maintaining our religious faith, whether theist or atheist.

Sure, you have atheists who believe in unseen and unmeasurable stuff, like psychic powers, the idea that extraterrestrials built the pyramids and stuff like that. But I think of that no differently than misguided Christians, for example, who insist the earth is only something like 7,000 years old and that the Virgin Mary actually remained a virgin after Jesus was born. And then, owing to a shared delusion, some people in both camps hold to the concept that Sarah Jessica Parker is actually sexy, but that’s a whole other story.

And I guess this is why I find the most ardent atheists both fascinating and at times frustrating. I and many other Christians I know don’t try to disprove science. So, in an odd way, I feel like Christians, at least those who maintain some critical thinking, are more well balanced overall. We don’t deny either the rational or spiritual aspects of ourselves. Yet atheists often won’t give an inch and will not be convinced at all that spiritual things could be real.

So, I guess what I’m saying is that the most fundementalist religion on the planet is atheism. Ain’t that ironic?