The Elephant in the Room

I love the conspiracy basis behind many discussions about faith (or lack thereof, which I still maintain is faith of a different stripe).  Those who believe differently don’t simply believe something different, they have an Agenda.  Their belief can’t truly be belief, it must be something else, something more sinister, thereby justifying the moral indignation and outrage of those whose faith is contradictory to theirs.  

Consider this essay about how Christians force atheists to pretend they’re Christian.  
The author’s conclusion is that religion requires reinforcement and indoctrination in order to sustain itself, therefore Christians must force others to pretend to believe the same way they do in order to maintain their own faith.  Forcing unbelievers to pretend to believe is the sole crutch supporting religion, and if we knock that crutch away, religion will collapse and disappear.  Christians (though I presume the author would be equally vitriolic against Jews or Muslims or Buddhists, even if it’s not politically correct to use such examples) are therefore selfish, fearful, malicious people inflicting intentional harm on those who disagree with them.
Well, glad that’s all been cleared up.  Guess I’ll hang up my collar and my torture tools now that I’ve been exposed.  Sheesh.
This ‘argument’ is so ridiculous on so many levels that it’s laughable.  After all, Christianity has been systematically targeted for eradication in large parts of the world for decades (consider the former Soviet Union and China, most obviously).  The result has not been the forecast elimination of Christianity.  Instead, Christianity is found to be alive and well when harsh government edicts and punishments are removed.  Systematically removing any and all cultural supports for religion and punishing people who exhibited religious beliefs and behaviors did not cause Christianity to disappear.  If anything, it seems to invigorate the faith so that it explodes into view again as soon as possible.  
But there’s a more important aspect of this ‘argument’ that bears a lot of examination, hopefully by the author as well.  The argument essentially demonizes every Christian (or again, any other religious person).  Christian parents are bent on torturing and warping their children.  Christian educators are bent on doing the same.  All motivations are selfish and cruel.  There is nothing admirable or good involved here.  It is the gross perpetuation of a sham.
All of which denies, ignores, or is grossly ignorant of the basic tenets of the Christian faith (and you could make the same argument for other religions).  I don’t doubt that there are some malicious parents, teachers, priests, drill sergeants, employers, whatever out there who enjoy making others suffer and wield their religion as a way to cause suffering.  Those people are broken and I’ll grant the author’s outrage as justifiable to a degree.
But the rest of those Christian parents, educators, pastors, drill sergeants, employers?  What do they believe?  They believe in a God who created everything and is restoring everything and that the choices and beliefs we espouse in this life make a real difference not only in this life but for a very long time beyond it.  As people who love the people around them, they want nothing more than for these people to be ‘in on’ the blessings of proper relationship with this God.  In other words they want the best for their children, students, congregants, soldiers, and employees.  They’re trying to pass on to them the very best and most important and valuable thing they own, their faith and understanding of the world and this God.
If I didn’t believe with every fiber of my being that the Biblical describes the world and myself and our predicament and the beautiful solution that has been provided to my own screwed up nature, I wouldn’t ‘impose’ it on my children.  But I do believe it completely.  It matches the world around and within me more perfectly than any other religion or philosophy or science.  I want my children to be able to see and experience this for themselves, and as the parent charged by God, nature, and (for the time being at least, the State) with raising a healthy child, I will continue to bring them up in the faith until they are no longer my legal or real responsibility.  
That means they will come to church.  We’ll pray together.  We’ll talk about the mysteries of the faith.  We’ll examine life through this lens of faith together, in the hopes that when they no longer are required to go to church simply because we are their parents, they will do so because they know this God and his love for them.  
According to this author, this makes me a monster.  Yet I’m only doing what I presume this author will/would do/does with their own children – seek to teach them the best that they can, to give them the best that they can, to equip them the best that they can for a life that will, by the grace of God, extend beyond their own.  
I don’t have to call atheists evil.  I can disagree with them (and I do).  I can pray for them (and I do).  And I can seek to share, inasfar as they will let me, why I believe and why I pray they will someday as well, as I would hope they would seek to constructively share with me, rather than just call me names.
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s