Jump to content

Do Some People "need" Divine Help?


DanInPA
 Share

Recommended Posts

This quote from a christian on another thread reminded me of something:

 

People have testimonies to help encourage others to reach out to God and see the truth for themselves. I am not talking about a "feeling" or "trust it because the bible says so". I am talking about real, tangible experiences.

 

Not long after my deconversion, a group came to church to give their "testimonies". They were from New Life for Girls.

 

These girls/women had horrible lives, drug addiction, homelessness, teenage prostitution, abusive relationships, you name it. And they all turned their lives around thanks to Jeeeezusss!

Of course I knew that it wasn't any imaginary deity that helped them, but the compassionate help of members of this organization. I also don't know what the success rate is for these people, but at least some of them had stayed straight/clean/whatever for 20+ years.

 

I wondered to myself: Would I want to yank their delusion out from under them, when it had had such a powerfully positive effect on their lives?

 

That was two years ago, and I still don't know what the answer is.

What are your thoughts?

 

Thanks,

Dan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wondered to myself: Would I want to yank their delusion out from under them, when it had had such a powerfully positive effect on their lives?

This seems to me to be the crux of the the thing. When a believer comes to the broken and downtrodden and says something like, "The Creator of the universe loves you personally and has a wonderous plan for your life" what does a non-believer have to offer in comparison with that? Further, what is a non-believer to do when believing this seems to have a powerful and positive affect on someone's life?

 

That's pretty much why I've decided not to challenge the beliefs of many. If having an imaginary friend can help, if the placebo works for some who desperately need it, then who am I to come along and try and screw around with that? I say that for some, if not many, they should be given the space and time to grow out of it (or not) at their own pace.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree. For some NOT to have a belief would be damaging especially if they are forced to look at the issue before they're ready. And some will never be ready.

 

I think deconverting is a very personal issue. I would like if it wasn't and more people could do it, but realistically, we're talking about a very emotionally charged issue. For myself and I know a lot of others, there is a grief process that you go though that takes a lot of time and patience. :scratch:

 

Some can't face death without a heaven, etc. It's sad, but in so many ways, religious folks' meaning of life and everything they do is wrapped around the idea of a deity.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I guess I wouldn't mind it if it were as simple as "having an imaginary friend" as some people put it. Kids have imaginary friends. Do they try to convince the entire world to worship the thing? No. You can nod politely and maybe interact a bit and the kid is happy. Not so with an adults imaginary friend. The adult isn't happy until their friend is your friend and you are both on your knees in front of it.

 

So while I see the "positive" side of the "imaginary friend," there is also an ominous side as well. Because as we all known, most of these testimonies are "If jesus can help someone like me..." and the hook is set.

 

mwc

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This seems to me to be the crux of the the thing. When a believer comes to the broken and downtrodden and says something like, "The Creator of the universe loves you personally and has a wonderous plan for your life" what does a non-believer have to offer in comparison with that? Further, what is a non-believer to do when believing this seems to have a powerful and positive affect on someone's life?

 

That's pretty much why I've decided not to challenge the beliefs of many. If having an imaginary friend can help, if the placebo works for some who desperately need it, then who am I to come along and try and screw around with that? I say that for some, if not many, they should be given the space and time to grow out of it (or not) at their own pace.

 

I agree. Let each person move along toward or away from religion. (Or sports, or money, or sex, or any of the other gods.)

 

Working with inmates who have lost everything, many this (I'll substitute invisible for imaginary) Invisible Friend helps more than you'll ever know.

 

-CC in MA

 

I agree. For some NOT to have a belief would be damaging especially if they are forced to look at the issue before they're ready. And some will never be ready.

 

I think deconverting is a very personal issue. I would like if it wasn't and more people could do it, but realistically, we're talking about a very emotionally charged issue. For myself and I know a lot of others, there is a grief process that you go though that takes a lot of time and patience. :scratch:

 

Some can't face death without a heaven, etc. It's sad, but in so many ways, religious folks' meaning of life and everything they do is wrapped around the idea of a deity.

 

I think you are quite right. This is a very personal issue and I don't think either side should try to convince the other. We should try to understand each other, not convert each other -- in either direction.

 

Regarding death, I definitely will be looking for the Light when my eyes close the last time. If it's not there, I'll never know, but I sure will go out confident that I'll be blinded by its beautiful brilliance.

 

-CC in MA

 

So while I see the "positive" side of the "imaginary friend," there is also an ominous side as well.

 

That's right. It's the ominous side that we have to address. I think the upcoming generation of believers will be much less intent upon coercing the world to embrace their views.

 

-CC in MA

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I guess I wouldn't mind it if it were as simple as "having an imaginary friend" as some people put it. Kids have imaginary friends. Do they try to convince the entire world to worship the thing? No. You can nod politely and maybe interact a bit and the kid is happy. Not so with an adults imaginary friend. The adult isn't happy until their friend is your friend and you are both on your knees in front of it.

I can see this also. I've heard it said that wisdom resides in knowing which battles to fight. One of the battles that I think are worth fighting is the issue of whether or not ID should be taught in public schools. I strongly feel that it should not. I think that it shouldn't even be taught alongside our various theories of evolution as a serious alternative.

 

So I do feel that some believers cross the line and when they do their views should not be given a free pass but rather they should be firmly challenged.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I honestly have very mixed feelings about the whole "live and let live" thing, as far as religion and belief goes.

 

The reason why is largely because the religion that permeates the society and culture I live in just can't leave everybody the hell alone about it. I wouldn't care what people believed in, if folks would stay in their churches, worship as they saw fit, and didn't try to mold things like government policy or science education, or run around picketing at gay people's funerals about how "god hates fags".

 

If people didn't kill each other over the subject of religion - and if their religions didn't support them in doing so - I wouldn't have much objection to people's choices of religious belief, because such things aren't really my business anyway. However, belief can shape action, and action can end in violence and oppression - something at which religions excel.

 

I dunno, maybe a lot of people do need the psychological security blanket of belief in a deity. I have to wonder, though - what if someone who bucks an addiction because they "found Jesus" understood not that it was the hand of a supposed deity that helped them, but the support of other people - and their own inner resources and abilities?

 

It's certainly an emotional high to believe wholeheartedly that there's a big god out there who loves you personally and wants your life to be happy and fulfilling, and is in support of you doing so; how is that high any different from a drug hit? Is being addicted to Jesus any better than being addicted to alcohol? It's still an addiction, I think, and it's still a block to knowing who you are as a person and what your real pain is. It's still a tool for numbing a pain you can't face.

 

So, I don't know. Yeah, I think probably a lot of people do "need" a belief in deity or a given religion to get through life. I don't think it's a particularly good idea, but I'm more interested, too, in learning what reality is and working with that.

 

But that's just me.

 

Anyway. Thanks for reading my ramble.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I honestly have very mixed feelings about the whole "live and let live" thing, as far as religion and belief goes.

 

The reason why is largely because the religion that permeates the society and culture I live in just can't leave everybody the hell alone about it. I wouldn't care what people believed in, if folks would stay in their churches, worship as they saw fit, and didn't try to mold things like government policy or science education, or run around picketing at gay people's funerals about how "god hates fags".

 

If people didn't kill each other over the subject of religion - and if their religions didn't support them in doing so - I wouldn't have much objection to people's choices of religious belief, because such things aren't really my business anyway. However, belief can shape action, and action can end in violence and oppression - something at which religions excel.

 

I dunno, maybe a lot of people do need the psychological security blanket of belief in a deity. I have to wonder, though - what if someone who bucks an addiction because they "found Jesus" understood not that it was the hand of a supposed deity that helped them, but the support of other people - and their own inner resources and abilities?

 

It's certainly an emotional high to believe wholeheartedly that there's a big god out there who loves you personally and wants your life to be happy and fulfilling, and is in support of you doing so; how is that high any different from a drug hit? Is being addicted to Jesus any better than being addicted to alcohol? It's still an addiction, I think, and it's still a block to knowing who you are as a person and what your real pain is. It's still a tool for numbing a pain you can't face.

 

So, I don't know. Yeah, I think probably a lot of people do "need" a belief in deity or a given religion to get through life. I don't think it's a particularly good idea, but I'm more interested, too, in learning what reality is and working with that.

 

But that's just me.

 

Anyway. Thanks for reading my ramble.

 

Great questions. For me, the line is crossed when negative beliefs/thoughts become negative actions. One can believe in "yelling 'FIRE!' in a crowded theater," but one better not do it! One can believe "god hates fags," but one better not spraypaint those words on the gay couple's home.

 

Religion is a drug. So is chocolate and coffee and sports and sex and everything else, probably. I know I feel a lot better when I'm eating pistachio ice cream!! But as long as no one is injured while one is consuming the religion, the sex or the sports, or the pistachio ice cream, I see no problem with this.

 

-CC in MA

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest dot_is_cute

I wondered to myself: Would I want to yank their delusion out from under them, when it had had such a powerfully positive effect on their lives?

 

I remember reading something years ago about a mentally ill woman who woke up every morning convinced that she'd just given birth. She would tell the doctors treating her "Doctor, I've just had a baby" and she was so delighted and happy.

I remember one doctor said that if he could use some amazing technique to cure her of this baby delusion he wouldn't do it. She was happier as she was, he said, it would only hurt her to convince her of the truth.

That's always stuck with me - because I think he was right.

I think it comes down to whether or not the person is dangerous to anyone else, and what effect it would have on them if they realised the truth. Sometimes it's cruel to tell someone the truth.

However, if one of the vulnerable people were inciting violence and hatred then I think they need to be confronted.

If someone like that is trying to reconvert you I find a simple "Well that seems to be working for you - I'm very happy for you." does the job. It's slightly patronising but if you repeat it over and over again you make it clear that you're not interested and they get bored.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If someone like that is trying to reconvert you I find a simple "Well that seems to be working for you - I'm very happy for you." does the job. It's slightly patronising but if you repeat it over and over again you make it clear that you're not interested and they get bored.

 

I don't think that's patronizing or rude. I think such a response is a very appropriate answer to someone trying to reconvert you.

 

-CC in MA

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest dot_is_cute

If someone like that is trying to reconvert you I find a simple "Well that seems to be working for you - I'm very happy for you." does the job. It's slightly patronising but if you repeat it over and over again you make it clear that you're not interested and they get bored.

 

I don't think that's patronizing or rude. I think such a response is a very appropriate answer to someone trying to reconvert you.

 

-CC in MA

 

I remember that happening to me when I was a fundie - I was trying to tell this woman I knew about Jesus *cringe* and what he'd done for me *cringe some more* and all she kept saying after everything I said was "Well that seems to be working for you - I'm very happy for you."

I felt a bit patronised but I got the message - I didn't bother her again. That's why I use the same line now!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can see this also. I've heard it said that wisdom resides in knowing which battles to fight. One of the battles that I think are worth fighting is the issue of whether or not ID should be taught in public schools. I strongly feel that it should not. I think that it shouldn't even be taught alongside our various theories of evolution as a serious alternative.

 

So I do feel that some believers cross the line and when they do their views should not be given a free pass but rather they should be firmly challenged.

And so the battle lines are indeed drawn...

 

So it's not okay to challenge someone on psychological/emotional grounds but it is okay to challenge them on scientific grounds? What happens when those two worlds collide? ID/creationism is not something my mother thinks about often but when it is brought up, well, "I am NOT a monkey" she says. It is very much an emotional and not a scientific discussion at all. She doesn't understand nor does she wish to understand the scientific side of things.

 

It has been said many time before...religion is emotional. Plain and simple. Even if you can manage to get a rational discussion going it will always boil down to emotions eventually. So when that happens do you have to stop and concede? That is what everyone currently does, to some degree, it seems (if if it is a weak "agree to disagree" position which essentially elevates fairy tale to fact). The person with religion "trumps" those without.

 

To add briefly to my original point. The xian religion stipulates that you need to go convert people to this belief system. It's built in. So, unless that is dropped from the system you will never see it truly kept to oneself.

 

mwc

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So it's not okay to challenge someone on psychological/emotional grounds but it is okay to challenge them on scientific grounds?

I think everyone must choose for themselves what battles they are going to fight. The fact is, I have not the power nor the desire to quench the beliefs of most Christians. However, personally I feel that it is worth it to try and keep religious agenda and desire from influencing our hard won knowledge of biology. Biology above and beyond any of the other sciences is about us (that's the most inclusive 'us' that you can imagine). That's why, in my opinion, there is such passionate and heated debate around it.

 

If someone says to me, "I couldn't live without Jesus" then I don't feel compelled to try and rob them of their crutch. However if someone says to me, "we didn't evolve" then I feel compelled to act. Who is to explain it? It's just the line that I've drawn. To me it seems worth it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it's a matter of personal development. A reason filled existence makes the most sense for someone who is personally in control of their emotions and who prizes intellectual honesty.

 

Those who may be an emotional wreck, on the other hand, may find the rational argument offers them only a sense of meaninglessness and nihilism. Stories of fantasy may be easier for them to attach themselves to.

 

I do, however, think that a fantasy filled life will eventually disappoint and the initial power of persuasion that caused them to make their changes will many times lose it's power over time. This is what Christians would refer to as back sliding.

 

If a person doesn't come to grips with their own strengths and weaknesses and learn to stand on their own knowing that it is only they who are in control of their lives, they stand a much better chance of living a content and balanced life. Again, IMO

 

I remember reading something years ago about a mentally ill woman who woke up every morning convinced that she'd just given birth. She would tell the doctors treating her "Doctor, I've just had a baby" and she was so delighted and happy.

I remember one doctor said that if he could use some amazing technique to cure her of this baby delusion he wouldn't do it. She was happier as she was, he said, it would only hurt her to convince her of the truth

 

This story illustrates my point. The doctor was correct, I think, in letting this woman live her life of delusion in peace. However, who of us would argue that this was a mentally healthy woman? Who of us would argue that her existence is ultimately the preferable way for the rest of us to live?

 

This was a woman who was an emotional mess and compassionate people refused to destroy her illusions. Those same compassionate people would no doubt not wish her condition on others more healthy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it's a matter of personal development. A reason filled existence makes the most sense for someone who is personally in control of their emotions and who prizes intellectual honesty.

 

Those who may be an emotional wreck, on the other hand, may find the rational argument offers them only a sense of meaninglessness and nihilism. Stories of fantasy may be easier for them to attach themselves to.

 

I am not Catholic, never have been, never will be, but the talk of reason reminded me of JPII's encyclical Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason). It's an enjoyable read. Here it is, if interested:

 

Fides et Ratio

 

-CC in MA

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wondered to myself: Would I want to yank their delusion out from under them, when it had had such a powerfully positive effect on their lives?

 

That was two years ago, and I still don't know what the answer is.

What are your thoughts?

 

I'd say that as long as they don't bother others in whatever way, they are free to believe into whatever they want. If I had a totally fundified cult just around the corner, I would probably not like that... but as long as they don't ring their church bells constantly when I need sleep, or ring my doorbell trying to talk me into joining every 30 minutes, I'd let them. It's their right to be happy their way, and my right to not like it. ;)

 

Unfortunately, sharing the bullshit gospel with others et al is too often at least dangerously close to harming these same others. Same goes with trying to replace science with cretinist dogma et al. This stuff harms or at least bothers others... not directly maybe, but nonetheless. :Hmm:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.