This is heartbreaking stuff. If you haven’t been following Nate’s deconversion story at Finding Truth, I highly recommend it. Read the whole series. Nate seems like a decent, humble, caring person, but because of his family’s and former church’s strict beliefs, they have “withdrawn” from him. Yesterday, at the conclusion of Nate’s series of posts, his father commented, in part:
I know this has been a painful journey, but even more so for your family who loves you more than life itself. It is obvious from many of the comments that quite a few people who have a belief in God think God requires nothing of them. However, if one believes that God is, and that Jesus is His son, and the Bible is the Word of God, the guide for our lives, then withdrawal is not a choice, but a duty. Submitting our will to God’s is sometimes difficult, but we must do it if we are to be pleasing to God… I would rather forgo this short time on earth with someone I love and cause them to rethink their position and circumstance and hopefully return to God, thereby spending all eternity in Heaven with them….
I understand that the great majority of Christians would not go this far. But based on Nate’s writing, I take this man at his word that he truly loves his son, and that he feels that the logic of his beliefs requires him to do this.
My point in linking to this is that I think it demonstrates, as tragically as anything could, the moral abomination of a deep, consistent faith in a judgmental god. It’s a good thing that most believers–even those who believe in hell and that unbelievers will go there–are too weak in their faith and too unconsciously humanistic to apply the logic of their beliefs in this way. Thank goodness for make-nice hypocrisy!
And it is one of the perversions of religion that its most dedicated believers–the people who are sincerely committed to doing the right thing regardless of personal cost–are the ones most likely to inflict this kind of needless misery on the people around them.
In order to be a believer in faith-based claims, you must elevate faith to the arbiter of what’s true. Only in this way can you overcome how reality operates in order to impose on it claims that are contrary to the evidence it provides of how it actually does work… evidence we otherwise trust with our lives on a daily basis… except when it comes to issues of religious faith.
For example, not one of us has ever found compelling evidence that dead cells can reanimate, correct the damage incurred while degrading, and return to a state of full, unimpaired function. Yet this is exactly what needs to be believed in order to have faith in the claim of Jesus’ resurrection. The belief stands contrary to the reality all of us share. Yet we can accept it as true by imposing a ridiculous explanation on it: that a ‘miracle’ happened, and – POOF! – a three day old corpse reanimated. We exempt this claim from arbitration by reality and substitute a position of faith as if it were equivalent to the overwhelming evidence that such a thing does not happen. Ever. That’s why amputees never regrow a lost limb.
I say all of this because the only way a father who loves his son can justify such despicable and selfish emotional blackmail is by paying no mind to the harm caused to a real person in real life in reality; rather, by substituting a position of faith such a mean-spirited person excuses such a willful act as an expression of piety and, therefore, it’s somehow okay! By this action we know that he loves his faith-based belief in POOF!ism more than he loves his son, and there is no anti-venom to be extracted from reality that can counter this kind of intentional poison.
Putting the fear of hell into a son to conform to your faith is not a father loving a son. He actually wants the family disassociation to bring his son round to his point of view.
Let us call this what it is; emotional blackmail.
Absolutely! That’s why I tend to not have a big problem with religious moderates. Religious fundamentalism is incredibly dangerous.
Thanks for writing this.