Thursday, December 6, 2007

What Do You Know?

If you have ever heard a non-believer prattle on and on about their denial of God, one thing quickly becomes painfully apparent: They have no clue what they are talking about.

It is not at all odd for people to not so much know what they know but rather to think what they know. Indeed, the entire American political system is based upon playing off this weakness of the human psyche. We all have pre-conceived notions and we attach very strong emotions to certain power words to the extent that these biases color our belief systems. So, for instance, if you ask a Democrat why they belong to that party they will likely say something along the lines of "Because the Republicans don't care at all for the poor, and I do," or if you ask a Republican the same thing they may say "Because the Democrats just throw money at problems without trying to solve the real issues." This habit extends to most aspects of human endeavor (ever try to get a logical reason why someone hates a particular football team?!!) but the political example shows it the best.

This habit shows three very important aspects about what people know and what they think they know. First of all, people are inclined to accepting what others have told them about something when they already have a certain leaning (such as being Democrat if they are naturally liberal), or by stitching together certain aspects to create one overall whole. However, no one takes the time to logically examine the details to see if there is any truth to the allegations. Do you think a Democrat has really ever thought deeply about Republicans hating the poor, or a Republican thinking about Democrats purposely wasting money? Regardless of what the tiny bit political truth may be in these statements, they have been exaggerated and inflated to the point that they, themselves, become reasons for what they believe, rather than explaining a belief system itself.

This also suggests the second aspect, which would be that people typically know what they think they know because it stands against something rather than standing for something. Most people of the either party I know belong to that party because it stands against the other rather than representing something they fully and deeply believe in.

The final aspect this suggests is the tendency for people to take what they think they know to the extreme, to exaggerate truths, to defend their point. If all Republicans truly do hate the poor, then isn't it the moral, the just, the good person who would want to be a Democrat? Wouldn't it suggest that only the evil would want to be Republicans? Using extremes to bolster one's arguments is certainly not new, but rather a very typical human excuse for ignorance.

So what does all this have to do with what I'm talking about? This isn't a political blog, so what's my point. My point is that when engaging non-believers in discussion I have come to realize that they are far more often like the Democrat or Republican who only thinks they know what they know rather than knows what they know. And, this habit is far more important when it screws up people's beliefs about the Almighty then when it merely interfers with one's political thoughts.

People will defend their non-belief by saying the Bible says this or the Bible says that, when it simply does not. They will say Christianity stands for this, when the Bible and the early church history prove otherwise. They will say the Christians did this or did that, all of which are historical truths, but which relate in no way to what Christ himself taught, and so are therefore invalid arguments. More often than not, their arguments are based on what they think they know about the Medieval Catholic church rather than what the Bible says. In essence, they think they know a lot, when in fact they know nothing at all.

I'm always amazed by the arrogance of this. Would they feel comfortable commenting on the plot development and literary techniques used in War and Peace if they had never read it? I don't think they would, yet they feel comfortable in taking jabs at a Bible they have never read. Would they feel justified in pointing out the mistakes inherent in quantum physics when they are in no way qualified to do so? Would they feel comfortable jumping to the conclusion that all black people are criminals and publicly call them all "dangerous gang-bangers" because a few do match that description, but feel free deriding all believers as mindless and calling us all "religious zealots"? I think not.

Allow me to point a few things about myself out. I have taken the time to read the Bible, so I know what it does say rather than what I think it says. If I'm not sure, I know where to look rather than making it up on my own. I have also taken the time to become knowledgeable regarding the Koran, as well as the working of numerous other religions. When I speak about these other belief systems, I know what I'm talking about. I am educated and have taken the time to become at least acquainted with scientific thought and belief, and so I also know what I'm talking about when I discuss that belief system's -- and yes, it is a belief system -- failings.

Perhaps more importantly, I was not raised in the church, nor was I raised as a believer. I was, in fact, raised by an atheist and an agnostic in a thoroughly scientifically-minded household. The beliefs I now hold I hold because I challenged my beliefs and took the time to find the truth. I don't hold these beliefs because I was indoctrinated, nor do I hold them without having ever thought about them. I believe them after having tried to find fault in them, and failed.

So I know what I'm talking about.

Let me ask you now: What do you know? Do you really have a clue about what you are speaking? Have you ever taken the time to read the Bible so you can comment on it intelligently? Or are you just another mindless robot thinking what the society has told you to think? If this is the case, I can gladly show you the error of your thoughts. And if you do read it, are you reading it with an open heart and an open mind, or have you already formed an opinion and are trying to find fault? If this is the case, I can again gladly show you the error of your thoughts.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Do You Fear Him?

I've been thinking about this whole Christmas/Holidays thing. Approaching it from a logical angle, its only fair to wonder why people want to wash the name Christ away from everything having to do with Christmas, even to the point that they'd be happy for it to be known only as "The Holiday." Why? What is it about this name, the person -- and the idea -- it represents, that people find so objectionable?

I've come to the conclusion that it is fear, pure and simple. These people, these anti-Christians, anti-theists, non-Christians, and all others, are simply and purely terrified by the name of Christ and what He represents.

I came to this conclusion after thinking about and hearing a few things. First among these was a statement by someone which had nothing to do with this but was actually more directed towards political repression: "People hate that which they fear." I started to think about that statement in relation to this thing, and it started to make sense.

The unrepentant sinner knows they are sinning, and knows that its wrong. However, with this touchy-feely, anything goes world in which we now live, they are rarely, if ever, confronted by people about their sin. No one has the quality of character to say, "This is wrong, brother, and for your own sake, you need to live a different life." No one, that is, but Jesus Christ. He alone stands before them, with is arms open in a hug of pure love, inviting them to come to him.

But they fear this embrace. Taking that step and receiving that hug is tantamount to saying "I'm a sinner, I'm wrong, and I need to live different way." Oh, my...change. We can't have that, can we? We all know people would rather kill themselves than make a positive change in their lives. Change is terrifying, change is hard, change is hard and cold and uncomfortable, so its much easier to just fester in this warm, soft bed of sin we've been in for so long.

Think I'm exaggerating? Think of it, for a moment: Actions that are unhealthy and unhealthful, but not sins. Do you know anyone who refuses to get out of a bad relationship because they fear change, refuses to stop drinking because its too hard, refuses to eat sensibly and exercise because they don't want to make the effort, who is killing themselves with their thinking errors yet won't seek help, knows they will get killed because of what they do but just can't give up the life? I'll bet you do.

These are all habits, learned behaviors picked up somewhere along the line. Most of these are external actions, and people can't kick their habits because of fearing change. Now imagine the need for people to continue in their sinful ways, or being forced to tear down an entire lifestyle, an entire self-image, a whole definition of what their life means and what its all about. They need to not only give up one habit, but change an entire life.

Still think I'm exaggerating?

In addition to this there is the ever present person of the Devil himself. He wants nothing more than for Christmas to become nothing more than a pleasant winter festival, full of over eating, over drinking, indulgence, sloth, and greed. One should easily be able to see his hand in all of this.

I came to this conclusion by thinking about other religions' sacred holidays and how they understand them. Ask most 100 people what Christmas is about, and I will be surprised if two of them say "the birth of Jesus." Ask 100 Muslims what Ramadan is about, or 100 Jews what Hanukkah is about, and you will get a religious answer.

Should we be surprised? Think of all the other junk that interfere with Christ during Christmas. There's Santa, the elves, decorating, buying gifts, getting trees, holly, Frosty, bells, balls, and booze. And that's really just scratching the surface. I was struck by the fact that there are fictional characters and non-Biblical traditions for both Christmas and Easter that diminish the sacred nature of both of these holidays. Why is there no Ramadan Rabbit? Or Hanukkah Hooter? Or any other such nonsense. Because the Devil doesn't care if people practice Islam or Judaism properly because these religions are already separating people from Christ. It his most earnest wish to get people as far away from Christ as possible, and separating His name from the holiday named after Him is a great way to do it.

So let me ask you this: Do you fear Him? Do you have reason to fear his holiness so much that, rather than take a hard look at your own life, you turn your inward facing fear to outward pointing hate? Are you allowing your fear and hate to separate you from the only one who can save you? Or are you of those silly, foolish pawns in the hand of the Devil who allows themselves to be used in his war against God?

Which ever you are, the only way to save yourself is to turn to Jesus now, ask him to come into your life and forgive your sins. Turns out the Christmas season is the perfect time to do so.