Do honest Christians exist? By honest, I don’t mean Christians who pay their taxes and keep their promises and choose not to steal or lie. What I mean in asking the question is whether or not there exists a Christian who honestly believes in Christianity.
There are, undoubtedly, many who claim to be Christians. They insist, often loudly and angrily, that there is a god and that religion is the answer for virtually all human pain and suffering. The ultimate reality, so they say, is supernatural. Physical reality, whether brains or fossils, whether dna or atomic decay rates, is not all there is. Not everything can be explained or accounted for in terms of the existence and interaction of material substance of one sort or another. In other words, there must be more, a spiritual realm. There are angels. There is a soul in man, and above all, there is a god and his kid and a ‘holy spirit’ of some sort.
So I’ll ask again: do honest Christians exist? You may think that to be a silly question given the notoriety of late among such prominent professing Christians as Rick Warren, William Lane Craig and Ray Comfort, just to name a few. But the operative word here is professing. Yes, many profess to be Christians and make a pretty good living writing books about it or appearing on talk shows or teaching in our universities and colleges. But my question is again whether or not these people, in the depth and quiet of their own hearts, honestly believe Christianity.
I contend they do not. I contend that they are living and speaking in denial of what they know to be true. I contend that they are labouring to persuade themselves of what is indelibly and inescapably obvious: that there is no god and that they are morally accountable to themselves and the rest of humanity, all humanity.
No one has made the case for the non-existence of honest Christians (albeit inadvertently), with greater clarity and force, than John Calvin. ‘There is within the human mind,’ said Calvin, ‘and indeed by natural instinct, an awareness of divinity’, and one’s awareness and subsequent interpretation of the will of this divine being supersedes the written word of this god (ie – the Bible). With his secret will of god invention, you can pass off any personal desire as the will of your god, even if it directly contradicts the Bible.
Before we turn to his guiltless atrocities, let’s hear him make his point again. This impetus to action ‘is naturally born in all’ and ‘is fixed deep within, as it were in the very marrow.’ No matter how vocal their denials or sarcastic their laughter or loud their derision, ‘the worm of conscience, sharper than any cauterizing iron, gnaws away within.’ It’s nothing divine which prompts one to deny others equal rights, to subordinate women, to harm or kill those who disagree, to threaten the educations of children, to seek vast wealth and prosperity at the expense of others and/or be blindly dismissive of their calamities and misfortunes, or to impose your beliefs upon others. ‘There is within the human mind,’ sadly, these baser drives and one must wrestle with whether to indulge them, and if so, how to justify them. One can cherry pick the Bible, but when the branches are bare, what then? Thanks to Calvin, no longer are you so restrained.
But how do we know everyone knows god belief is a ruse? On what grounds do we refuse to honor their claim to being Christians? Calvin points us in two directions. “You can tell what they are by what they do” (Matthew 7:16) but if you can say that what you do is the secret will of your god, well, nevermind that Bible. Also, thanks to his other invention of predestination, you can wipe away the guilt of harm to others by believing you’re predestined, as a good Christian, to do what you do and they, who are not, are fair game, which no doubt Calvin told himself as he had people burned and beheaded and tortured in Geneva. But can ‘the worm of conscience’ be truly squashed in this way? Can one, through these means, dismiss what they know is wrong? For ‘it is not a doctrine that must first be learned in school’, to be aware of the realities of one’s actions and motivations, but one of which ‘each of us is master from his mother’s womb and which nature itself permits no one to forget.’
I can’t emphasize strongly enough that such knowledge is inescapable, and that countless burning lamps shine for us in the motivations and repercussions of our actions, not to mention the rest of the realities of the universe. These things are plain to all, rendering all without excuse, but are there blinders or entire blindfolds to shield one’s eyes from such illumination?
The problem is that some despise what they see. The problem is that they hate what they know. The problem isn’t that they look upon reality or contemplate the conviction of their own conscience and turn away saying, ‘It’s ok; my god says it’s ok; he’s real and revealed his will to me.’ The problem is that they wilfully and selfishly and knowingly loathe the reality they see and know to exist and would rather indulge their own fleshly lusts and worship their own selfish desires and hatreds than to honor and care properly for themselves or the rest of humanity.
Calvin didn’t give a crap about Christianity, and no Christian buys any of it, from divine crackers to walking zombies, from 6 day creation to Noah’s ark, from magically multiplying fish and bread to wine from water. There is no such thing as an honest Christian. There are those aplenty who with their mouths scoff at the notion of atheism and formulate their arguments to ‘prove’ atheists don’t exist. Perhaps there are even some who from years of wilful rebellion and self-induced hardening of heart have anesthetized their minds to reality. Perhaps there are some (many?) whose minds have simply given over to the deeper cultivation of their self-delusion, some (many?) who have degenerated to such a degree that they’ve rendered themselves impervious to the clearest and most persuasive of evidence. But in any and every case, they are still without excuse. The plea of belief will not suffice at the final bar of judgement.
Do not go in search of an honest Christian. You won’t find one. Instead, look to such pearls of wisdom such as “distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires” (Susan B. Anthony), “you know your god is man-made when he hates all the same people you do”, that “faith is believing something you know ain’t true” (Mark Twain), that “the way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason” (Ben Franklin), “men never commit evil so fully and joyfuly as when they do it for religious convictions” (Blaise Pacal), and that perhaps “on the first day, man created God.”
And then share these glorious pearls with a ‘professing’ Christian and direct them to reality, to the gnawing by that worm they so desperately try to suppress and hope that the light may shine out of the darkness they try to shroud it in, to the greater glory of themselves and the rest of humanity.
This was in response to this piece of crap forwarded to me by the Chaplan.