We Don’t Need “Saving”

This post is in response to an email I received a few weeks ago. I’m changing the name but the email, in its entirety, can be found below my response.

Dear Christian,

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I was inspired to write, in large part, because you said in your email, “I feel that your blog runs people in the wrong direction (quickly) whether you know it or not.”

I will talk as openly and as forthright as I can. People who read blogs like this are searching for their “own kind,” for others who question, who have doubts, who think that something just isn’t right with the whole religion thing. This is one of the many places we hang out.

I am not writing to tell you that you are wrong. In the end, you cannot prove your god any more than I can disprove her. However, is God likely? No. Probable? Of course not. Possible? Sure. And so are flying pigs. If God *is* possible, I think it is sheer arrogance to speak on her behalf, seeing that she isn’t present…and hasn’t been for billions of years. I know, I know, you have the “word of god,” which somehow entitles you to be a mouthpiece for this supernatural being who has shown an awful lot of dislike for the creatures she supposedly created. Well, I have an old book, too, and it says nothing about Adam, Eve, and the other fantastical characters in your bible.

Seeing that atheists do not show up in your church and try to talk your congregation *out* of belief, I’m not quite sure why you folks show up where we gather and try to talk us *into* belief, unless, of course, you think there are brownie points to be earned in saving “souls.”

I believe in the concept “live and let live,” so if you want to believe in your fairy tales and superheroes, and you are not hurting anyone, then good for you. Belief is your security blanket, and I will not try to yank it from you. You have books to recommend? That’s so funny. Everyone has books for us to read, and yet, we are probably the most well-read bunch on the planet.

You say that you keep coming back here, that you find these conversations fascinating, even though you’re not comfortable. May I suggest that you’re energized by the intellectual honesty of these discussions? Perhaps, like us, you recognize the fact that god doesn’t make sense but you’re afraid, so you hold tight to an ego that says, “I am human. Special. Chosen. Loved unconditionally by God. Therefore, I will never die.”

The parents and other folks who read here are brave. It’s not easy to face and accept mortality, that there’s no “big plan,” that we live and die here, on this planet. If we’re lucky, we appreciate this fact and enjoy the short time we have. Sure we could sweep reality under the rug and pretend, but are you really living if you have to lie to yourself, if you have to live in fear that this invisible, deaf and mute god might reject you or harm you at any moment (think great floods and fires)? Do you find it rewarding to argue a position that is indefensible? To hold tight to religious dogma that has brought so much trouble throughout the world and throughout history?

You pray for me? Don’t waste your time. It’s silly. You think it’s going to get you into god’s good graces? Can you prove that? Can you show even a tiny sign that your heaven is “out there”? Of course not. Why don’t you do something for your fellow man instead? With that time you’d use for prayer, volunteer. With the money you give to a church, help others. We put our money where our mouth is. You should, too. The meme to the right explains it all: “God is for you,” meaning god is literally a thing for you and for your emotional neediness.

_____________________________________________________

Hi Deborah,

I wanted you to know that your blog is exceptionally hard for me to read.  Personally I feel that your blog runs people in the wrong direction (quickly) whether you know it or not.  Regardless of my discomfort though I keep coming back to it.  I find the “other side” of the Religious (?) discussion fascinating.   I’m not really sure if Religious is the right word to use in this context.  Anyway my real reason for writing is to recommend 2 books for you:
1) Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes – By: Nancy Pearcey  (the fact that you’re mentioned in the book makes me believe you probably already own a copy.  It’s the reason I found your blog to begin with )
2) The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing, and Why – By: Phyllis Tickle
Finally I wanted you to know that I’m praying for you.  I do believe in a Heaven, and for admittedly selfish reasons I hope to have conversations with you in Eternity.  Which is a really funny concept because eternity encompasses everything (including now).  I hope this isn’t our only correspondence.
Thanks,
Just Another Christian
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37 responses to “We Don’t Need “Saving”

  1. amen. wish I could compress that all I to one sentence in response to people who “pray for me” and have the gumption to inform me day after day after day. it’s so damn annoying!

    • A possible response is “If your prayers really work, there’s people who need them a lot more than I do, like wounded veterans and cancer patients. Please go pray for them instead.”

      • yes, that makes sense, but mostly They honestly feel that their prayers healed my cold, or my sprained ankle, or found my cat…I cannot argue the fact that yes my cold is gone, my ankle is better and my cat came home…. but they Expect that those facts alone should be reason enough to compel me that I should be a believer. After all their really believe their prayers made it happen. How can you argue that? I wish I could just say, stop praying for me, it’s not going to change my mind. But that would be rude. What rankles me is the double standard that religious behavior in our society allows for, they don’t see how rude their behavior really is.

        • Absolutely correct.

          You have a headache, so you take an aspirin. And you say a prayer. Your headache goes away. Do you credit the aspirin or the prayer? It’s like these people who say their wife survived very dangerous surgery. It’s a miracle! Thank God! No, the patient beat the odds, and you should thank the doctor.

          • @anonymous Exactly! And you should point out all the folks who didn’t survive that same surgery. Were they less deserving?

      • @ubi So true – and don’t you know that all those folks on EgyptAir were praying for help as the plane was going down.

  2. Greg LeMunyan

    Deborah,
    I really appreciate your clarity, honesty and kindness. One thing that has turned me off in the Athiest community is the tribal way we look to demonize the religious. I strive to be on the right side of history and one of the items I have learned is who I am is one of us. And so are all the religious folks. I suspect your kind, straight talking and questioning in your response will have a big impact.
    Thank you,

    • Hi Greg – I like what you said here: “I strive to be on the right side of history and one of the items I have learned is who I am is one of us. And so are all the religious folks.” I need to remember that we’re all on the same team no matter what we believe.

  3. Hi Deborah, good to read you again. Ugh, these people. I know they are good people and, although their intentions are misguided, I know they are not trying to do anyone any harm. Yes, we are, in fact, the most well-read people on the planet. We also happen to be the ones who know the most about religion, though we are also the least represented group in US prisons.

    I think Christians write emails like this because they are afraid of being wrong and somewhat upset that we find living without gods to be quite easy, even liberating. Remember the old Bob Marley line, “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.”

    As for the “I’ll pray for you” bit, I just say thanks. It does no good, but it does no harm, and I won’t waste my time trying to argue with them. However, in the back of my mind, I’m hearing anothe song, this one by Bring Me The Horizon: “The faceless can’t save you, the clouds won’t hear your fu**ing prayers.”

    Hope you’re well!

    • Hi Deo! Great to hear from you – hope everyone is doing well in your neck of the woods!

      Members of my extended family seem particular bothered that I don’t believe — (as you mentioned) it would strengthen their position if I did. For the most part, it is just not worth the time and energy arguing or making a statement about prayer unless our rights or those of our kids are affected.

  4. JustAnotherChristian didn’t write that for you, Deb; S/he wrote it to feel better about him- or herself… offering nothing of any real merit or consideration but a kind of ‘correction’ as if from a concerned position of guidance and ‘proper’ direction… followed immediately by a mewling offer of prayer as if from a position of humbleness.

    The disingenuous approach is a dead giveaway of yet another religiously befuddled person donning the mantle of a towering arrogance cloaked by deep ignorance masquerading as ‘interest’. The very best I can think of is that writing such nonsense to you kept this person for a time from knocking on doors. A small consolation, to be sure, but thank you if that was my door that was missed.

    • @tildeb Yes, it’s odd to me that people send these emails trying to offer “guidance” or “correction” for I would never think of approaching someone to talk them out of their belief.

      I lol’d, “…writing such nonsense to you kept this person for a time from knocking on doors.” If sending emails would stop the JWs and Mormons from knocking on my door–or anyone else’s–every month, I’ll set up a dedicated email! haha.

  5. Funny when he/she says “I feel your blog runs people in the wrong direction”. That in itself tells you how ignorant this individual is. People willingly seek out this type of blog because they feel the need to express themselves with like-minded individuals. The same reason why folks like this individual go to church. Everyone has the desire and need to feel they belong to some sort of group. We on this blog have read plenty of the types of books he/she is recommending and it is why we have come to the conclusions we have and is why we became non-believers.

    If by chance this person comes back to read this current post of yours I think we should all do some recommending of books to him/her. I’ll start with Sam Harris’s “End of Faith”, “Letter to a Christian Nation” and the many others he has written. One of the first books I read before these was Dan Barker’s “Godless”. I was intrigue with why a person who was raised in a religious household, was a preacher for 19 years and wrote several Christian Children’s songs would change his way of thinking after all those years. And then there is good old Christopher Hitchen’s “God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything”. I could go on with the recommendations. Too many wonderful reads out there! 🙂 I find it interesting that this person also finds themselves coming back to your blog. Could it be that intellectual stimulation is needed?

    One way to look at the fact that you were mentioned in Nancy Pearcey’s book just may lead others to check out your blog as well, which in time just may help change the mindset of a few if not many.

  6. I think everyone starts out pretty much the same. Kids are born with no beliefs one way or the other, as I wrote in “Atheist by Default.” Then they encounter religion at church and science at school and gradually draw their own conclusions. What was it I read somewhere … everyone is told the same story; they just draw different conclusions. Or something like that.

    Anyway, it’s good to hear from you again, Deb. If Just Another Christian keeps coming back here, maybe s/he will eventually understand.

  7. …and she drops the mic and walks off the stage.

    Fabulous response. So good to hear from you.😊

  8. I just read in the paper about 2 children beaten to death by their parents and the worse a couple years ago about a father who threw boiling water on his eighteen month child and let it suffer in extreme, excruciating pain for 3 weeks until it died. Where was the caring, loving, compassionate god when these poor babies needed her/him.

  9. It’s been a while since my last response, I’ve been really busy with work. I think one of the biggest issues with humanity is we are always trying to fix each other instead of concerning ourselves with our own lives. You’re not a Christian let me proselytize you. Sometimes atheists attempt reverse proselytizing Christians. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Let’s accept each other for who we are and let’s respect each other.

    • You can respect people without respecting some really bad ideas they might have. In fact, going along and accepting without any criticism some of these really bad ideas in the name of respecting the people who hold them is itself a really bad idea.

    • Good to hear from you dqfan2012. I do agree that we should accept each other, but I don’t think people are “always trying to fix each other.” I think they’re mostly trying to save themselves or feel better about their position in life. It’s not that atheists are proselytizing, they’re merely pushing back against an old, somewhat blind establishment.

  10. A thoughtful, intelligent, and kind answer, Deb. I wish you’d write more often, but it makes me cherish the few blog entries we do receive. Hope you and your boys are well.
    K.

  11. Nicely said. I’m fond of this general response:

  12. Deb, you always know how to put into words what I think about religion. Thank you for that. I relish your posts and agree with the person above who said that they wished you could write more frequently again but because you can not, we are so excited when you do reach out to us. I save your notes to read over and over to remind myself, thank goodness, there are others who think with their brain like I do.

    • @Betsy Thank you for the kind words. It’s an honor to be part of the team and to have these conversations with everyone.

  13. Gary Thompson

    I would like to also say thanks for putting our thoughts into such effective words. On a separate note, I have been marveling (as perhaps many of you have) how so-called “Christians” are flocking to Donald Trump’s hate and divisiveness, especially in the South (where I am from). This makes me see more clearly than ever the hypocrisy of Christianity when it comes to the real message of Jesus of Nazareth the person, which emphasizes love and peace and tolerance above all else. As Inigo Montoya might say of “Christianity,” addressing Christians, “you keep using that word, I don’t think it means what you think it means.” Meanwhile, I see atheists and agnostics doing so much good in the world, seemingly in correlation with the extent to which they DON’T belong to a religion.

    • Hi Gary Thompson – Good point about Trump and his followers. The irony.

      I had not heard that quote by Inigo Montoya, but I love it!

      • It’s from the classic movie The Princess Bride. The book is about 2/3rds court fashion but the movie skips all that and the story much better for it. The character Montoya is a scoundrel out for revenge but hired as a sellsword with his sidekick Andre the Giant. Their boss keeps using the phrase ‘Inconceivable!’ that the hero of the story overcomes all the obstacles the boss and his henchmen throws in his way and each time the boss utters the same exclamation… enough so that eventually Montoya keenly observes that the Boss’ use of the term really doesn’t apply.

  14. Actually, I think they do believe they get brownie points for “saving souls”. Several months ago, I made the mistake of sending my older sister a copy of an opinion piece I wrote for the local paper. I had found out that it might be printed in a future FFRF newsletter (not sure if it was or what issue as I don’t get the publication at this time) and my sister was curious about it. I had hesitated sending it to her to begin with because I knew she was religious and might have an issue with it. It was on the 10 Commandments.

    WHOA. Yeah, bad reaction. Interestingly enough, she never talked to me herself. She called my younger sister up at 3:30 in the morning and went on and on about how I was going to go to hell and therefore needed an intervention. While she herself did not at all speak to me, her husband blew up my Facebook page. He deleted the post but then posted some passive aggressive stuff from an anti-atheist page. I had to delete and block both of them. On one hand, I feel bad because it hurt my oldest daughter who was close to her aunt. On the other hand, I deal with far less drama having done what I did. I’m married to a religious fundamentalist, that’s enough drama on its own.

    • Hi Janeen – It’s hard enough when family outside your home criticize and try to convert you, but it must be really tough living day in, day out, with a religious fundamentalist!

  15. Who was it that said in response to “I’ll pray for you”… ” well I’ll think for you”

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