Wed, 19 October 2016
Cass Midgley and Dr. Bob Pondillo interview an ex-Christian, and now police officer, Mark Stephens. Mark’s story has a lot to do with him noticing that much of his Christian way of thinking—the “logic” whereby Christians made choices, for spouse, for President, for where to live, what college to go to, just life choices in general, were flawed. When he ventured outside reliance on scripture or prayer for making decisions and trusted his own skills of deduction and reason, he found that he made wiser choices and reaped better outcomes.
We taped these conversations on October 1st, 2016. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, give it 5 stars, and/or leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms. Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated. Our Indigogo fundraiser is here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ea-podcast-equipment-upgrade#/
Thanks for listening and be a yes-sayer to what is.
The insert I put in the middle of the interview:
I’m stopping the tape here to enter a footnote regarding this issue of the Christian notion of the Fall or what Mark is calling here Sin. I didn’t fully understand the gravitas of Bob’s question in real time, but after listening back to it, I realized that there is something here to elucidate. We’re talking about the problem of evil and how the fact that an alleged good, all-powerful god doesn’t heal amputees or intervene in any measure of suffering is a big problem. It’s important to understand how Christians get around this and maintain their allegiance to and a loving image of a good god, despite this evidence. To most Christians, God created everything perfect. And there are actually several Falls that ruined God’s perfect world—the two main one’s being the Fall of Satan from Heaven as he questioned God’s authority and wanted be like God, and second, the Fall of Adam of Eve, which was prompted by Satan as the serpent to do the same—question God and desire to be like God. Now being like God, in this context, would mean being knowlegable—knowing stuff—the knowledge of good and evil for example, but also being free. The rebellion to want to eat from any tree I want to. The desire to think for one’s self, etc. It’s important that we understand that to the Christian, God is the only source of goodness. In the Biblical narrative, humans have always messed things up and God is constantly disappointed and frustrated with our ineptitude. This is pounded into us over and over. Eden was only the first time we fucked things up. The flood was God giving his creation a do-over because our disobedience and rebellion led to debauchery and ruin. The same with Sodom and Gomorrah, the same with the Tower of Babel. This is what is drilled into the Christian mind—humans always ruin things when they ignore God. These narratives keep God’s reputation squeaky clean and human’s reputation hopeless. This is why they are so quick to assume malice when we misbehave, this is why’s it’s easy for them to demonize humans, and have ZERO reservoir of hope for humanity. They already walk around with a presupposition that humans are evil, hopeless, and incapable of turning things around. “Only God can save us” is there goto answer for everything. In fact, when they hear some of us saying that we trust our own ability to think and reason our way out of problems and don’t need God to fix this, THEY HEAR SATAN. They hear the voice of the Serpent. They hear Adam and Eve. They hear the stomping footsteps of a wrathful God approaching. Atheists, naturalists, secularists, scientists scare them and anger them just like their blind ignorance and allegiance to their non-existent savior angers us. We both think the other’s ideology leads to more suffering. Eden represents the perfection of God’s world before humans got prideful and disobedient and rebellious. To the Christian, restoring the Kingdom of God, represented here by pre-Fall Eden, is their main agenda. Why, because they hate suffering too. They want to end racism, poverty, famine, and war. They too want social justice, equality, civil liberties, but many of them only see it possible by way of humbling ourselves before God and crowning him King of the World. But I think it’s helpful to keep in mind that we both want the same things (at least for the earth). Now the after-life is really another layer of this altogether, but I think all humans, especially as were born into this world as children, pre-tainted by fears and prejudice, want the same good things—food, water, and shelter for everyone, peaceful relations, joy and laughter, fun and freedom, etc. We just see two very different means to those ends. They believe that the invisible third-party Maker of everything is the only hope of that coming to fruition. In fact, God will thwart the efforts of humans who have not called on His help first. This is what would lead Newt Gingerich or Mike Huckabee to say things like whoever’s president should be first and foremost a man of prayer. Christians want the good life too, but they frame it as wanting to get back to Eden. They want the kingdom of God to come on earth as it is in heaven which will only happen when every nation, tribe and tongue bows the knee to Jesus. This is why they do missions around the world. And they’ve added a loophole just in case that’s impossible here on earth (and they fear it is), and that is that God will create a new heaven and earth populated only by Christians and that’s when they’ll get their Eden back. And then God will have his way. Because finally, He’s got a bunch of obedient people around him. They see me and my atheism as rebellion and disobedience to the God who wants to bring it about. I see their fictional narrative as a brainwashing that impedes us solving these problems ourselves. And here we find ourselves.