Unbelief

[I wrote this months ago, finished it today.  Gotta get this thing going again because I need an outlet!]

I was reading the blog of a friend from high school today– actually, I suppose I was browsing it, because she’s heavily involved in Christian ministry and having babies, neither of which I can particularly relate to… In any case, right at the top of the blog she had a quote from a Christian pastor:

Unbelief is safe because it takes no risk and gets what it expects. – Bill Johnson

My first thought was, “Are you kidding me??  Unbelief is the scariest fucking thing in the world!”   Now, I realize I don’t have the context of this quote; and I certainly don’t know whether he is talking about the “sin” of unbelief, as far as Christians doubting God, or whether he’s talking about unbelievers in general.  He may very well have meant the former.  But I react pretty strongly against this Christian idea that non-believers [a] choose their unbelief [b] because we decide it is better or easier to live our lives this way.  This idea especially focuses on how we atheists think we are free to sin without guilt, but really we are slaves to our sin nature; and we believe we have no lords and masters but ourselves– but really, God will send us to Hell one day for our rebellion.

I disagree.  Having no gods or afterlife or easy answers is not fun, and it’s not comprehensively freeing, and it certainly doesn’t feel safe. It feels lonely, the world seems dark and unfriendly… and after a person loses faith in gods, religious people (that’s pretty much everyone) seem sad, or stupid, or dangerous, or like liars.

If you’re not at least slightly optimistic by nature, your whole outlook on life takes a serious beating.  I’ve considered antidepressants just because I’m tired of it– and I used to consider myself optimistic.

Yes, there is wonder and beauty and majesty and stuff that is just freakin awesome.  That’s another post.

But I once was Christian, and now am not; and growing up with that belief system shaped me.  I’m not sure I’ll ever recover.  And some days, I think that if I could take a pill to make myself believe again, I would take it.

Belief that God is good, and has a plan for me, and has chosen a husband for me, and gives me employment and income and every good thing, and wants to be with me forever… believing that is safe.  There is no risk there– if you die in your belief, you only die, and that’s all.  The only risk in believing is in the risk that you will get something, and expectations always carry a risk of unfulfillment.  But even a Christian can be safe from disappointment because God had a reason for that, too.

Belief is safe.  Belief offers comfort and assurance and an eternity of bliss.

Belief can be very risky, depending on the instability and extremity of your beliefs, and the risk grows the longer you have your belief, because to lose it becomes more of a loss.

Belief always gets what it expects, because to believe in something is to believe in something.  It may not be tangible, but it is technical and precise with just enough mystery to keep it interesting.  It is flexible; you can always be satisfied… if you believe you should be.

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One Response to “Unbelief”

  1. Ericka Craven Says:

    I know you wrote this over a year ago, but your sentiments reflect mine so similarly, that I just HAD to post this comment. I was raised in a strict fundamental Christian background. I didn’t have something “happen” that made me lose my religion, I just one day realized it felt “empty” and I was talking to Santa Claus. I long for those days of comfort and security where I could “turn my cares” over to God and have him “take care of me”. Now, I’m on my own and it’s very lonely. I WANT to believe. But, how does one MAKE themself believe something they don’t?! Thanks for sharing such candid and insightful thoughts. It feels good to know there are others who feel the same way.

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