For those who don’t know, John Zande of superstitious naked ape fame is a militant atheist I sometimes chat with. He’s written a book and his latest theory is that God is malevolent, evil, based mostly on teleology. Teleology is “a reason or explanation for something in function of its end, purpose, or goal.” In short Zande theorizes that based on the condition of the world around us, we have a malevolent creator, one unworthy of our belief.
Over at Silence’s place he left me a comment that I simply must elaborate on because it so perfectly encapsulates the kind of psychological abuse and brainwashing that I experienced as a child, at the hands of…. you guessed it, militant atheists.
I don’t want to lament this fact, I simply want to acknowledge that there is a heavy cultural meme going on right now that tries to claim Christian parents brainwash their children and that the very nature of faith is psychological child abuse. Along with this meme comes a few studies trying to suggest that children raised by non believers have higher morals.
I can tell you right now that’s a bunch of bunk. Non belief can become an ideology that often takes on a mind of it’s own and can also do a whole lot of harm to children.
Cultural memes, also known as social engineering, fascinate me, partially because I have a keen eye for deception. Due to my childhood, I don’t like mind games and brainwashing, so those little antenna always pop up when I spot a social engineering trend. Or someone trying to game me.
So first off, the purpose of this post is just to make people aware of a meme that is currently being bantered about, that faith is now being alleged to be psychological child abuse. Second of all, I wish to make it known that atheists and non believing parents sometimes engage in some pretty horrendous psychological abuse themselves. My story is proof of that.
But most importantly I want to celebrate Christ’s victory in my life, His steadfast patience and unwillingness to leave me behind, His amazing healing. I want to remember where I came from, only for the purpose of noting how far He’s now taken me, how whole and complete He’s made me. These things do not trigger me anymore, there are no open wounds, and I am full of forgiveness and reconciliation. Christ doesn’t just hand us beauty for ashes, He can replace what was stolen, ten fold over.
The jist of Zande’s comment is something I heard nearly everyday as child, a rather persistent and insidious attempt to try to convince me that God was evil. The idea being that if someone can just grasp that God is evil they will naturally reject Him as being non existent.
It’s an ugly thing to do to adults, but it’s far worse to do to children who have no defenses. It is also a form of psychological abuse. One’s own needs to destroy God take precedence over the well being of the one you are targeting. Think about it, you are trying to convince someone that the Creator of the universe, the one who made them….is evil. It is not unlike what some parents in custody battles try to do, where they bad mouth the other parent. Hidden behind that is the thought that if the one who made you is evil…than you must be evil too.
Moral ambiguity still distresses me, when too many people start calling evil good and good evil. Welcome to the world of today.
So, on to Zande’s comment which I am compelled to pick apart, with much gratitude and appreciation for the work that Jesus Christ has done within me. Blessed be His name.
“Believe me, I appreciate the tremendous internal conflict that storms inside you. The contradictions are enormous, but know that your torment is a sweet pleasure for the Creator. The prevalence of religious belief pleases Him. He wants you to believe in some alternative scheme, and He celebrates that you’ve invented pantomimes that try to explain the degenerate shape of things. Your self-harming brings delight to Him.” -John Zande
“Believe me, I appreciate the tremendous internal conflict that storms inside you…”
Most of the time I am truly filled with His peace that surpasses all understanding. (Phillipians 4:7) Sometimes there is a bit of angst, misery, and woe, but even these things I have come to love, to celebrate, to rejoice in. There is something worse than feeling a full range of human emotions and that is not feeling anything all. That happens some times when we shut down completely and it really makes one appreciate even the uncomfortable feelings, like grief. Grief hurts, but grief is a sign of life…and an indication of one’s ability to love.
“The contradictions are enormous, but know that your torment is a sweet pleasure for the Creator.“
This made me chuckle. Hey, no pain, no gain! God does not delight in our suffering at all, in fact sometimes he may actually collect our tears in a bottle. (Psalm 56:8) There is another kind of torment however, the productive kind, where things are uncomfortable, but purposeful. I think of the pain of childbirth or perhaps training for a marathon. Certainly uncomfortable at the time, but such productive results, such fruitful results, such “sweet torment.”
“The prevalence of religious belief pleases Him. He wants you to believe in some alternative scheme, and He celebrates that you’ve invented pantomimes that try to explain the degenerate shape of things..”
That is heartbreaking in it’s sadness because I think I am surrounded by people who perceive the world as degenerate, who do not see their own worth and value, who dare not hope. That kind of learned helplessness, that fear of ever focusing one’s eyes on whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, is gut wrenching and painful to watch. It need not be like that.
The truth of the matter is that the good things in life are no more of a pantomime than the alleged “degenerate” things are. The world is full of good and evil and we all have to chose where we are going to place our eyes. How we “see” the world is not just a matter of the data our eyes take in, but in how we process and perceive it, and what our attitude is when we receive it.
Teleology from a scientific perspective is pretty much nonsense, because genuine scientists recognize the limits of human perception and judgment. We don’t conduct experiments to decide if something is “good” or “bad,” because those are subjective moral values based on the experiences of individuals. Gravity is “good” because it keeps us from floating off to space, but gravity is “bad,” because it dashes us upon the rocks when we jump off cliffs? You can see the problem with teleology, science, and human morality.
It strikes me as amusing however, teleology, that “reason or explanation for something in function of its end, purpose, or goal,” does speak loudly to the existence of God, to a kind and loving Creator, to the existence of Christ Himself and our need for redemption and mercy.
The only way we can logically label God evil, is by attempting to create Him in our own image, proceeding to find Him guilty, and condemning Him to our eternal rejection.