Being Raised Baptist

During my upbringing, I was raised in 3 separate Baptist churches. Theists would argue that my atheism is a result of not being exposed to "the word", but I actively sought out Christian knowledge, listened to Christian reasoning for arguments posed by the scientific community, and, despite my disbelief, tried to blindly accept trans-rational thinking in order to "accept Jesus as my lord and savior". So, to say that I never gave it a shot is simply not true. My problem with religion has nothing to do with not understanding it. My problem with it is the very opposite. My over exposure to the Baptist faith, the Pentecostal faith, and Catholicism, from essentially birth to the age of 15 is what did it for me.

During my last 5 or so years of attendance, I realized that not believing was not my problem, but rather the problem was my family's for believing in something that isn't there and can't be proven. I witnessed the teaching of circular reasoning to our congregation being passed off as "logic". I witnessed the dismissal of scientific evidence and history. I witnessed the abuse of children and the abuse of adults.

When you go to a place like Planned Parenthood or anywhere else they may offer resources for battered women, you'll see signs of phrases indicative of psychological and emotional abuse. These phrases are generally things along the lines of "you're not good enough for me", "you're nothing without me", "you will always fall short of my expectations", and "you can't do anything right". These phrases were not considered abusive to the congregation because god is supposed to be infallible and by definition (god is good), he can do no wrong. In this manner, terms that would generally be considered abusive coming from another human being were considered acceptable coming from god. It wasn't that god was insulting who you are and minimizing your value, it was that he's right and you just can't *see* how he's right because you have a limited scope of logic. Conveniently, as the creator of the universe, god gets to decide that this is not abusive, but rather, loving.

We were taught circular reasoning and all of our examples of errors within atheism (which they considered to be "a faith"), the Pentecostal faith, and the Catholic faith, were pointed out using straw man arguments. In this way, the preacher taught the congregation that these were acceptable argument points to make in an intelligent debate. They didn't tell you that a straw man argument is the kind of thing that will get you laughed off the stage. Rather than demonstrating how their faith (or even the existence of god in general) could be reached with the use of critical thinking skills, the preacher taught the congregation to use circular reasoning to dismiss all counter arguments to the faith. How do you know that god is real? Because it says so in the bible. How do you know the bible is true? Because it says in the bible that the bible is the true word of god. The bible talks about god, therefore god is real. This sleazy reasoning was peddled as acceptable, deeply philosophical, moral, and intelligent ( of all ******* things). Those atheists claim we came from monkeys, but my momma was a human being just like god made us! It didn't matter to the preacher or the congregation that they were both completely misunderstanding and misinterpreting scientific theory; they taught us that this straw man argument was valid and witty. The atheists must be the dumb ones, they think we came from monkeys! At no point was an attempt made to understand modern science and to use the knowledge we have of it to frame the argument in reality. Belief in god exists outside of reality.

Perhaps the most insulting part was that basic history and science was being denied and branded as conspiracy. It was not historically accurate that dinosaurs existed and roamed the earth before we humans were here. Dinosaurs at worst did not exist, and evidence of them was created by the devil/Satan to tempt us into accepting an alternate history of humanity and the earth. At best, the dinosaurs existed alongside man and went extinct while we did not. The science we were taught in public schools (especially relating to evolution) was considered to be liberal propaganda created to fill us with hate and question our faith. The contradictions between what we know about the history of the Earth and the creation mentioned in Genesis were all the result of a conspiracy. In this way, the members of the congregation were actually separating their children from the rest of the world. We didn't live in a world where science helps us explain what we previously didn't have the tools and methods to understand, but rather the true history of the world was being twisted up by those who were denying the bible.

Pretty ****** up when you really sit down and think about it. When I speak to theists, they have this assumption that my distaste for their belief system is out of jealousy or ignorance, but really it's out of pity. I don't want for kids to have to grow up believing that the scientific community is conspiring against god. I don't want for kids to have to believe that there's this invisible war going on that they're caught in the middle of. I want for humans as a whole to be free of these antiquated belief systems so that we can move on to the next great thing. If we're wasting our time arguing about if tongues are kosher or not when really the entire bible is worthless, we're not getting anywhere. There are bigger, more real problems out there. Here are a few: world hunger, child hunger (even in the U.S.), the growing gap between the rich and the poor, uneven education opportunities among humanity, HIV( and improper contraception techniques being taught in impoverished countries), the fact that malaria and polio are still around in some places despite the fact that we've had cures for years. The list goes on and on.
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2 Responses Jul 7, 2012

Well said. I think the demonizing of science and lack of critical thinking when it comes to the bible is because reality demonstrates that the bible is not inerrant. And when one claims that something is the inerrant word of god, then if one little bit of it is false, then it all is false.<br />
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You see that in creationist thinking - they believe that if only one aspect of science is shown to be in error, then all of it must be false. Sad - such ignorance about the enterprise of science - and, that ignorance is deliberate, too.

You make the same error as many do, thinking that science is trial and error and that theory is the same as speculation.

Science is not trial and error, it is empirical (factually observable) and deliberative. Scientists formulate a hypothesis and test it with empirical observation. The model that develops when observation supports the hypothesis is the theory. A theory is about as close to reality as science provides. Like the theory of gravitation. It is not speculation.

Unlike the enterprise of science, the bible is a bronze age text of superstitious ramblings. And, in fact, much of the new testament was written several hundred years after the fact.

I myself have no problem with Christians if they are moderate or liberal. I do have a problem with the conservatives saying that dinosaurs never existed. I also have a problem with conservatives who bash minorities. I was raised catholic, but I come from a very liberal family.