Bad Faith

DISCLAIMER: I am not writing this to try to convince you that what you believe is wrong. I am not going to attempt to debunk any claims. I am not a science communicator. I am not an evangelist. I am writing this for myself more that anyone. I don’t really care if you agree with me or not. I am not trying to start a debate (Though, I am open to questions or friendly discussions).

There are many reasons why I no longer consider myself a Christian. I had actually stopped calling myself “Christian” long before I left the church. It was a decision that was not made suddenly or lightly, and it is not one I expect anyone else to make. It was a long time coming and there were a lot of factors that all came together and built to a tipping point. For me, when the tipping point came, everything went. Not just a disownment of the more radical parts of the Christian religion, but a disownment of every aspect of belief in God. At this point, I hold no religions beliefs because I am not able to justify faith in anything to myself. To some this may sound like a dark place to be, but I’ve never felt more clear in my mind or my purpose. I have found that joy, love and peace still exist without faith in God.

Growing up in Baptist churches means being taught to believe that the Bible is true in its entirety. This includes the creation story. There are entire organizations devoted to spreading Creationism. There are Creation Evangelists who travel the country teaching Creationism. There are programs to teach children Creationism. The creation story is being taught as fact in private Christian schools. As a child, I trusted the people behind the pulpit or at the head of the classroom to be telling me the truth. And so I believed the creation story.

What has had the largest impact on my faith is realizing that much of what I was taught about the origin of the universe, the earth and humanity is simply not true. Realizing that I had been provided with incorrect or partial information was a revelation. I do not know if these people that I trusted were lying or if they actually believed what they taught, but in my mind there is no denying that they spoke in bad faith.

Any child should be able to trust that people in a position of leadership will give them the most accurate information available, but information is regularly twisted or omitted in the teaching of Creationism. Truth is dismissed as biased conjecture in favor of biased conjecture passed off as truth. Reality is distorted shamelessly. If contrary theories are introduced, they are merely straw man arguments—built up with half truths only to be knocked down by falsehoods.

While this has been my experience with Creationism, I am not asking you to just trust me and forsake everything that you believe. I am asking you to do this: If you encounter a Creation Evangelist or are confronted with the teachings of Creationism, listen with an open mind. Then, with an open mind, consult trustworthy sources. Explore what is being claimed and what the latest scientific research says about it. Examine the motivation of all your sources, and evaluate their veracity. Acknowledge your own biases and know it is OK to question what you believe and why.

I believe that a Christian can have an honest and open mind about science and hold onto their most vital religious beliefs. Many questions answered by the Bible are not answered by science, and in many ways they are not contradictory. When you do encounter a contradiction, though, the best thing you can do is search for the truth and be honsest with yourself.

If you are able to do that and remain devout, good for you. Literally, it probably is good for you. There was a study published recently that indicates religious people live longer than atheists on average. (Source: The Independent )

OUR HOPE THROUGH THE STORM

In the summer of 1997, a small charter vessel was caught in a violent storm that sprung up out of nowhere. Before there was even time to put out a mayday signal, lightning struck the ship and fried the emergency radio. The little boat was a mere speck in the midst of mountainous waves with no land in sight. Everyone aboard believed they were doomed.

There were three passengers in addition to two crew members. The captain and his first mate were excellent sailors, and, with great effort, they were able to ride out the storm and successfully navigate back to harbor. Each did his share to protect the ship from the dangers of the storm. They drew upon years of experience and vast knowledge, and technology provided by countless brilliant sailors who came before them.

After their safe return, the story quickly spread, reaching national news outlets in a matter of a few days. The sailors were modest men who naturally downplayed the extent of their heroism.

The captain was quoted as saying: “I was just doing my job. I did what I had to do to get those folks home safe. I’ve trained for a situation like that my whole career, and when the time came for me to use my training, everything fell into place. We were all very fortunate to make it back safe.”

One of the passengers said: “If it wasn’t for the bravery and quick thinking of our crew, I have no doubt that this story would have been about a recovery mission to find our bodies.”

In every interview this passenger continually expressed her respect for the sailors who saved her life.

There was something strange happening though. When the two other passengers of the charter boat were interviewed they talked about something completely different. One of the men who had been on board recounted the horrific details of the storm, then said to the news anchor he was speaking with, “You know, I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you today if it wasn’t for the grace of Cthulhu. He reached up and guided us home, you know. I just can’t say enough about how incredibly grateful I am to Him.”

“It’s obvious Cthulhu reached up and took the wheel of that boat and saved us all. His tentacles guided the captain’s hands to bring us home safe,” The third passenger had stated.

What had been a story celebrating the amazing abilities of a humble captain, had turned into a ludicrous lauding of the fictional Great Old One.

The first mate of the ship stated this: “I begged Cthulhu to save us. I called out into the waves knowing he would hear me. Cthulhu had been there the whole time, protecting us, and he carried us safely through that storm.”

The captain had not saved those people to receive praise and honor. He had done his job to the best of his ability and was proud of that fact, but he stayed quiet on the subject of Cthulhu. When asked about whether he believed Cthulhu had any influence on the outcome of that night, he would simply state that he had not seen or heard Cthulhu during the storm. He modestly said that he did not believe in Cthulhu.

“I’m not looking for recognition,” the captain reiterated, “There are men and women in the Coast Guard who save people at sea every day and deserve more recognition that me.”

The captain accepted the short lived praises and honors with grace and was soon out of the public’s eye. He went back to spending his days taking people out to sea on his charter boat, but whenever he happened to hear another statement acknowledging Cthulhu as the hero of that story, he felt a twinge of sadness and frustration deep in his gut. However, he needed only to remember that he had played an integral role in saving his own and four other lives, and a flood of satisfaction would wash over him.

*****

Three months later, the first mate was interviewed on a cultist radio show.

“Of course, I am grateful for the efforts of the captain.” Said the sailor to his fellow cultist, “But you can’t deny Cthulhu was there guiding him and is the reason we are all alive today. Cthulhu was our hope through the storm, so to speak. This experience really just brought me closer to Cthulhu, and I am actually grateful to Cthulhu for letting me go through that. It is something that I will never forget. I am even thinking about writing a book about this experience to relate how Cthulhu can help you with the storms of everyday life.”

“That sounds like a wonderful read,” The interviewer replied. “I’m sure cultists everywhere will be looking forward to seeing that on the shelves of their local bookstores.”