Friday, April 18, 2014

Facebook Faith #43 Look Kids, Big Ben!

The American Atheist association is in town this week for their annual convention.  I was able to attend a discussion/debate between David Silverman (Atheist) and some local Mormon professors.  One point the professors kept trying to underscore, and which they kept coming back to, was the uniqueness of their faith. I recognized their thought lines because I felt the same way about the uniqueness of my faith when I was an evangelical.

I run into this problem regularly of Facebook.  Either on my page or a friends, a believer comes in to instruct all of us about "the true religion".  The common element in conversations like this is that many believers enter with a bagful of assumptions that they hold, and because they spend so much time in their own circles, they assume everyone holds those same assumptions. They start from a place where their god, scriptures, and practices are a GIVEN.

The skeptic insists they back up and first legitimatize their claims. The apologetics that worked so seamlessly for the believer while in church, doesn't tend to translate so well outside. Believers often mistake the reaction of others as stubbornness or rudeness.  The reality the believer struggles to see is that their claims have no more validity than any other religion.... and believers hate it when you lump them in with every other religion (because everyone should KNOW that THEIR religion is different!)

So conversations often sound a bit like this:

Believer: My Faith is the one true faith.

Skeptic: Yeah, but the guy down the street says that about his faith.

Believer: But mine is REALLY the one true faith.

SkepticThat's what he says!

Believer: But my faith has miraculous signs.

SkepticThat's what he says!

Believer: My faith has revelation!

SkepticThat's what he says!

Believer: My faith has holy scriptures!

Me: That's what he says!

Believer: My God speaks to my heart!

SkepticThat's what he says!

Believer: You are just going to have to believe what I am telling you on faith!

SkepticThat's what he says!

and so it goes....

If you get this far into the conversation, a believer of this stripe will then return to the top of the list - rinse and repeat - just like Clark Griswald in the roundabout. There really is no choice for this believer. The only alternative is for the believer to admit the claims of his or her religion are more or less identical to every other religious claim out there.... and that simply will not do.

So into the roundabout we go!

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