conversation- not debate

I had lightbulb realization this morning. When talking with believers about my questions and doubts, I have a very specific list of things I want and don’t want in the conversation.

  1. I do not want you to try to save my soul. I do not want you to try and convince me of your viewpoint. Please stop. It sounds desperate, and irritating.
  2. I do want to hear why you believe what you believe. I am interested. I would not have asked otherwise. 
  3. I want to know specifics about why you think what you think, and how you came to draw these conclusions. Give me something tangible, measurable, concrete.
  4. I do not want to hear catchphrases and churchy platitudes. They are not well thought out. They are not real. They are not your words. Use your words.
  5. I want you to listen when it’s my turn to talk. I don’t want to debate you. I am not Christopher Hitchens. I want to have a nice conversation where we share our ideas and remain friendly and courteous.
  6. I do not want to convince you that you are wrong. Really. I don’t. 
  7. I do want you to acknowledge the times when faith does not make sense. I want you to honestly examine your faith and see the holes in it that I see. That doesn’t have to change your opinion, maybe you are still capable of faith at that point. But I am not. Can you just acknowledge that faith isn’t easy to have, it isn’t reasonable, and not believing is not a flaw in me? 

That doesn’t seem like an unreasonable list.

Evolution vs. Creationism?

Evolution vs. Creationism?

I was reading the religious section of the Huffington Post, browsing for something to inspire or anger or enlighten me. I found this gem-

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/23/evolution-god_n_3640658.html?utm_hp_ref=religion

It says in this article, that only 21% of the people in the U.S. think that humans evolved without divine intervention. Hmmmm. Not really surprising since this is a predominately Christian (or religious in some way) country.

What struck me was a couple of things. Firstly, 37% of people think that God created humans in their present form. Really? REALLY?? Come on! There is so much evidence to the contrary! I can’t imagine the amount of time and energy it must take to stick your head that deeply into the sand. Willful ignorance is the most irritating thing I can think of.

Secondly, 40% of people favor teaching creationism in our schools, and 29% were unsure how they felt about that. This is really disturbing to me. Even now, as I am systematically questioning everything that I have ever thought to be true, as I am questioning my life, my society, my faith, my upbringing- even now I can say absolutely that creationism should NOT be taught in schools.

My reason should be obvious, but just in case it isn’t let me spell it out. Public schools are entities that are funded by the government with money from everyone’s pockets. They are not a platform to spread any kind of pseudo-scientific information or agenda which cannot be proven… which is why it would be pseudo-science.

Even as a person who believed in God, I never believed in creationism. And intelligent design should stay out of schools too, because really, it is no better.

Tim Minchin (yes, I am a bit obsessed with him right now) said it so well- “Their defense is always, ‘But evolution is only a theory!’ Which is true. I mean, it is a theory. And it’s good, you know, that they say that. Because it gives you hope that they may feel the same way about the theory of gravity and they might just float the fuck away.”

Miracles?

Miracles. Hmmmm. This has been a concept I have had problems with since I was a child. The general definition is some sort of event that serves as helpful or beneficial for a person, and is viewed as either inexplicable or as an intervention of the divine.

Intervention of the divine. Right. Cause God wants me to escape a fender-bender, but has no miracles for the billions of people in the world who are starving, dying, or oppressed by forces outside of their control. Sure. That makes complete sense.

I know that sounds snarky, but think about it. I profess to believe in a loving and just God. I profess a belief in the power of prayer to intercede on the behalf of someone, that prayer can capture the attention of God (who is always watching) and move him to act in a miraculous way on my behalf.

And yet… yet… women are burned alive by their potential husbands who want to pay a lesser dowry. Men have been protected by law so that when they rape a woman, as long as they marry her later, they face no legal action. Which is great because once she is ruined it is way easier to get her as a wife. Children, innocent, blameless children, sit dying in streets all over the world for a variety of reasons- illness, starvation, exposure. And this… this God does not miraculously fix.

So all of the prayers that I have sent up for all of these people, did they not work? Where was God? Oh I know that pat answers. Humanity introduced evil into the world and now it is a burden we must bear. We must be responsible for lifting people out of oppression. We must help and aid those people by bringing them the message of Christ- and presumably clean drinking water. 

But I don’t like those answers. I think those answers are a cop out. I think it is horribly horribly duplicitous to say, “Well, evil exists in the world and we can’t fix that, but I am sure God has a plan.” And then to claim that God blessed you with a promotion, or a new car, or maybe you were healed of a disease, even though you have insurance and doctors and a fighting chance just because of your geographic location. 

Yeah. The idea of miracles bothers me. Because eventually, no matter which line of thinking you follow, you either end up with a God who micro-manages the lives of a select, special, privileged few; or you have a God who is so completely hands-off that he serves no purpose other than as an architect of some sort. Maybe I am missing something, but neither of those gods suits me, or my view of justice and love.