My reaction to the introduction of ‘Before You Say ‘I Don’t Believe”.
Sorry if it’s a bit wordy.
When I first picked this book up, minutes after singing a series of some of the vilest hymns I have ever had the misfortune to utter, all because I had been dragged to a wedding I had no desire to go to, I didn’t believe in God. I thought of Him as a delusion, an excuse and an answer to a series of questions only those of a weak constitution, of a pathetic mentality, needed answering.
The very second paragraph of this book’s introduction claims that it is ‘trendy’ to claim that one is not a ‘person of faith’. It says that it has become fashionable for the ‘movers, shakers and celebrities of society to ridicule both the Christian faith and those who profess to trust Christ’. I think I knew, then, that I had to try and answer the questions put forward by the author myself.
I am not a ‘mover’, a ‘shaker’ and I will never be a celebrity. I will never be trendy, or fashionable and, to a degree, I even take issue with the idea that it is trendy to malign faith. What the writer seems not to realise is that to be ‘trendy’ nowadays, one cannot even care whether there is a God or not. The fashionable ones are those who seem to reject thought as an entity and, instead, focus themselves entirely on an even greater mass consumption.
Consume has become the new hymn, and the fact that there are still people like us claiming that ‘There Is a God!’ or ‘There Is No God!’, or ‘God Has Lost Faith In You!’ or ‘God Is Dead’ doesn’t really matter. For the young, for the ‘trendy’, God does not enter into their consciousness. This ‘tide of unbelief’, as the writer calls it, is a strange thing. I think I am firmly in the centre of this tide, though it has washed around me as though I were a rock, or an island, if you will forgive the somewhat narcissistic continuation of his metaphor.
In the introduction, I find it fascinating that the author claims that society’s vehemence to the scorning of other faiths besides Christianity is quite right, and the reason that Christianity is targeted is because of that specific religion’s history of ‘turning the other cheek’.
I don’t want to take an oppositional view simply because I am not a Christian and the writer is, and I hope I will agree with him at points within this reply, but at this I feel somewhat irritated, if irritation can be considered the right word.
Christianity is targeted with such precision in western society, particularly in Europe, because our history is plagued with the religion. This ‘tide of unbelief’ was long preceded by a ‘tide of belief’, when the religion swept across every country, taking their previous religions and obliterating them, destroying them, burning them from the face of the world because of one of the many paradoxes the Christian faith preaches, ‘Love of one’s enemies’.
Even if we are to ignore such a proven paradox as that, because this is simply the introduction and I’m sure I will have plenty of opportunities to argue that particular point, I will bring up a few historical events in its place : The Crusades, including the Albigensian, the Aragonese and the Northern Crusades, not to mention the horrific failure of the Children’s Crusade; the witch-hunts (which have been estimated to have caused the deaths of 70,000 to 100,000 innocents in Europe alone), and the initial comings of Christianity to pagan lands, which were long, bloody years when a system of belief attempted to strike out the long-standing beliefs through a mixture of political pressure, propaganda (i.e. the ‘bravery’ of Saints and Martyrs like St Alban) and the continued abhorrence of any belief system which stood outside of the established Christian norm (from ‘differing’ religions such as Hinduism and Judaism, to simple differences of opinion within the Christian community itself, such as Pelagianism, Adoptionism and even the now widely held ‘Americanism’, which many still tie into the Christian faith).
Though this is merely a response, I have decided to entitle this collective of answers as ‘Thought Over Belief’; no matter what kind of connotations that title may hold, I think that it contains the basic ideologies I hold close to my own chest, as I am sure the author of ‘Before You Say ‘I Don’t Believe’’ mirrors the intentions of his book.
I do not want dogmatic agreement, I don’t want to shatter belief or reinforce disbelief, or the other way around. But I do want people to think, just think, even if such thoughts fail to result in action. Just consider the opposite opinions to your own, argue on their behalf against yourself, and always, always, take pleasure in the existence of your freedoms, however limited they might be.
Don’t Believe; just Think.
A Further Note; As I have read through this book I have noticed a careful use of language, if an obvious one. Whilst openly admitting that he is attempting to offer some information to answer those questions he has conjured up, the author often slips, either by accident or, as I fear, design, into formats of language designed to encourage agreement. This is, of course, an obvious tactic, and I have no doubt that, at times, I will find myself slipping into a similar language as my own opinions take sway over these words I am typing.
Be aware of my use, and his, of certain adjectives which are designed to persuade you to one side or the other, or the structuring of sentences which might lead you along a certain belief system, or lack thereof, and don’t let yourself, necessarily, be swayed by my opinions, or his.
In his book, the author quotes the Gospel of John; 20:31 – ‘these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.’ Whilst John writes as propaganda, the author here at least claims to encourage the consideration of Christ over today’s Secularist agenda. Bear in mind that he is strongly of one opinion, whilst I am strongly of the other.
Think for yourself and, please, read either the book I am arguing against; Roger Carswell’s ‘Before You Say ‘I Don’t Believe’’ or other examples of religious literature which might take a similar question and answer format before taking a stance of mindless agreement or disagreement. As I have said before, and I will no doubt continue to say, question yourself, question me; question everything as much as you can without allowing your opinions to get in the way.
My opinions are my own and I do not want them replicated without argument and thought, and I would state that anyone whom does follow anything which relies wholly on opinion, such as a religious belief with no evidence, any absolutist political or societal beliefs in some fails in the definition of ‘Human’ which I, personally, hold.
It might also be useful for you to remember two things; that I am not a good man, I have never been a ‘good’ man, I thinkthat good as an absolute concept does not exist, and that ‘Believe’ has much stronger connotations than thought does so, please, take that into your analysis of my answers.
Though there is little to argue with in this introduction, if you do take offence or agree with any points I make (or if I my facts are incorrect in some way, which is entirely likely), please let me know.