“Explore God” and you’ll explore existential despair


Hey everyone, Martin here. Nice to see you all again.

HT to my buddy Amy Angela on Facebook for the heads up on this. Nothing quite illustrates the hopelessness and futility that having a deeply religious mindset inculcates quite like the Explore God movement. A recent post on their Facebook page asks the basic question “Do you believe things in our world are getting better or worse, or both?”

Virtually without exception, the Christians are wailing “WORSE!” — despite generally being folks living in conditions of privilege where they have access to technology, employment and modern conveniences — and pleading for the sweet release of heaven, and atheists are pointing to general improvements in quality of life, while acknowledging the real problems that still need addressing. QED, if you have a rational outlook on life rooted in a respect for science and human ingenuity, you will be a lot happier and more optimistic than those soaked in Biblical belief. And yet they’re the ones who don’t think (hello Oprah Winfrey?) we can be positive and experience wonder and awe. Show me the awe in people who see a world of bleakness and despair.

Here’s a reply I gave to a young woman who needed a perspective check. What are the odds she’ll take my reply as encouragement and food for thought, do you think? (I won’t post the screengrab, as I’m always reminded there are people who use readers that can’t read images. I’m a derp.)

Liliana (So-and-So) Worse! Wish the Lord would come tomorrow!

Martin Wagner Liliana, without I hope being offensive, let me give you some perspective, and perhaps a clue as to how your religious beliefs have skewed your answer here. Your profile’s cover picture is a banner for “Breast Cancer Awareness.” Here is what I found from the American Cancer Society on breast cancer survival rates:

“After slowly increasing for many years (0.4% per year from 1975- 1990), breast cancer death rates decreased 2.2% per year between from 1990-2007. The percentage decline was larger among younger women. From 1990-2007, death rates decreased by 3.2% per year among women younger than 50, and by 2.0% per year among women 50 and older. The decline in breast cancer mortality has been attributed to both improvements in breast cancer treatment and early detection.”

So clearly here are facts and figures demonstrating something that is getting better and not worse (except for certain demographic groups who don’t have as good access to health care). Now, it seems to me there are two ways you can approach something like breast cancer awareness. You can support the scientific research that makes survival rates even better. Or you can do what religion has taught you to do, which is throw up your hands, give up, and beg for the lord to come tomorrow. Which is DEMONSTRABLY the better choice?

Comments

  1. says

    I like what J.T. Eberhard says about people who pretend to ignore scientific progress while they embrace faith:

    “Technology is a testament to the uselessness of prayer.”

  2. says

    Martin, this is such a complex topic, and the scope is too broad. I could argue both sides of the argument, but for the sake of brevity, I’d say it is possible for individuals on either side to be more pessimistic, than individuals on the other side of the theological spectrum. A person’s mindset is more important than their theology.

    Cheers!
    Steve

  3. says

    “…the hopelessness and futility that having a deeply religious mindset inculcates…”

    Well, I hope you’re not one of those atheists who gets annoyed when a religious person makes broadbrush and silly statements about atheism.

  4. says

    I don’t think this is so surprising a mindset, really. If you believe in an all-powerful sky daddy, why work for an answer to things? When things go bad, why wouldn’t you ask for help from the all-knowing, all-powerful, benevolent creature in the sky? After all, if he wants the problem solved, he can solve it (y’know, all-powerful). And if he doesn’t want it to be solved, well, doesn’t he know best? When you don’t believe that someone can magic away your problems, you work for an answer, which is what leads to real progress.

    When you’re a kid and you have a problem, you look to mom and dad to fix it. When you’re an adult, you look to fix your own problems. I can’t help but think of this as analogous to a theist vs. atheist worldview.

  5. says

    People are generally optimistic or pessimistic based on their current life situation. The thing about Christianity, though, it that it teaches you pretty much from the moment you first set foot in church that we are all wretched sinners, that this life is a miserable vale of tears, and that all we really need to spend this lifetime doing is getting right with Sky Daddy, so that we can enjoy true happiness and contentment with the Lord… after we’re dead.

    While a Facebook comment thread can’t exactly be called a scientific survey sample, it’s still revealing, in a practical way, that not one of the Christians who commented there had a single positive thing to say about the condition of the world and our lives in it.

  6. says

    You mean like good old Oprah?

    Well, maybe if I’d seen some positive and optimistic responses from these “Explore God” Christians, rather than an endless litany of “Everything is horrible and pleeze I can haz the Second Coming nao?”, I’d have a reason to think I wasn’t pulling a conclusion out of my ass, like she was.

  7. vgerdj says

    “Evidence of god” Darwin > eye > EPIC FAIL. This site is a compilation of oft refuted religious blurbs. It’s a polished website but nothing new.

  8. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Isn’t treating cancer just cheating patients out of a trip to heaven, plus making them continue suffering this awful awful world, plus giving them more chances to be tempted into sinning?
     
    For that matter, why wish for the return/rapture/apocalypse on everyone instead of a more plausible quick death!?
     
     
    More bizarrely, I recently had a conversation with a school teacher who repeatedly insisted that it’s good to stab children and set them on fire: “It’s moral to kill people if you think God won’t let them stay dead.”
    (re: binding of Isaac, but he generalized it)
     
    He had the gall to end with “Well, we just have to agree to disagree and respect each other’s opinions. I really enjoyed this conversation. You want to have lunch sometime?”
     
    But not without first comparing me to a drug-addled fornicator he supposedly met the other day who produced 25 pages of refutations, came to his house for dinner, then admitted it was just his lax morality that dictated his theology.

  9. gwen says

    I love how they say how everything is so much worse…as they talk on their cell phones, driving down the street using their GPS, go home to eat a wider choice of foodstuffs ever known to humankind, turn on a tap to clean water, and turn on the TV to an endless choice of viewings while they sit comfortably on the sofa with the heat or A/C on to keep the temperature of the home cozy. Yes, isn’t life just terrible.

  10. mond says

    For many xians the world is getting to be a worse place.
    Just to cherry pick some of the issues that they seem care about.

    1. Teh gays getting equal marriage rites (sic)
    2. Non belief on the rise.
    3. Womens reproductive autonomy.

    If a hot button xtian issue going the wrong way for them then by definition the world is becoming a worse place.

  11. dutchdelight says

    Calm down Igor, are you 12?! What makes you think you can barge in, go off topic and demand attention for your crank cause?

    Not only that but she disabled all ratings and comments on all of her videos like the sleaziest creationist.

    What an ingenious tactic, not only could you not express your one true opinion right under her video. She managed to prevent *ANYONE* from publicly commenting on her work and ideas. I tell you, she might be a witch! BURN HER!!!@!111one

    I lost all respect for him.

    Well Russel, you did it this time, this sad troll’s feelings were hurt. What will you do to win back the MRA vote?

  12. dutchdelight says

    Are you saying that you are against men’s rights?

    Tip: When told you’re trolling, don’t respond with more trolling.

    I’m against emotional MRA trolls whining about their plight and putting their privilege on display when nobody asked for it and it’s not even close to on-topic.

    Now act like a rational person and stop trolling.

  13. steele says

    Gwen,

    Material comforts aside, society isn’t actually on a glide path for some future utopian dream land you humanists think of. Moral decay is exhibited all throughout society. Having a stupid Iphone doesn’t mean things are getting better. There are plenty of surveys across all religious/secular divides that say things are getting worse not better and for you to try equate happiness with material comforts is just ignorant.

    Just like Martin where he says:

    “People are generally optimistic or pessimistic based on their current life situation.”

    Many rich people commit suicide and many poor people are the happiest people on earth. Martin wants to quote breast cancer statistics but chooses to ignore statistics that show people think things are getting worse is typical of atheist propaganda….despite claiming to follow the evidence you clearly ignore the evidence that conflicts with your world view.

    I truly wonder as atheist how you can be happy when in the end you are going to die and the whole universe is marching towards death and your whole life objectively has no meaning? Martin is right I think atheists may be happily ignorant and more optimistic then someone who knows the truth of the human condition as Christians do.

    2nd Timothy 3:1-7

    1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

  14. mond says

    “…someone who knows the truth of the human condition as Christians do.”

    Bald assertions of “the truth” and quoted bible passages don’t cut any ice here.
    You will need to raise your game.

  15. says

    Timothy 2 3:1-7 is your usual propaganda from a book of propaganda in which Steele like the rest of the narrow minded Christian’s draw their conclusions from. It’s just a scare tactic used to induce a certain amount of fear so the church can continue to manipulate the ignorant into giving them more unearned money that’s tax excempt. This kind of crap has been preached long ago in the past and it continues today.

  16. Monocle Smile says

    What ignorant people think has little bearing on reality. This has been true for as long as humanity has existed. So it really doesn’t matter one jot whether people “think” things are getting worse.

    This might be a slightly different tactic, but I wonder how YOU can be happy knowing that you live in a world where an all-powerful deity wills cancer upon children and there’s nothing you can do about it. You live in fear of the boogeyman that you can’t fight and you go along with it because you’re a coward. Christianity relies on Stockholm Syndrome by proxy, and you’re a shining example.

  17. steele says

    Monocle Smile,

    What is your objective standard for if things are getting worse or better, other than your own opinion? How do you define things getting better. Martin here uses breast cancer statistics to show things are getting better, how about more people on food stamps then ever before, less disposable household income? Give me an objective standard and lets compare otherwise your own ignorant opinion is just as myopic as the rest of “ignorant” people as you describe them.

    Thanks for calling me a coward, I have been called worse by better people so I appreciate it, lol.

  18. trj says

    Hm, hadn’t thought of that. If you want to ensure Christians get to heaven you should kill them at the time when they have the most belief in God (provided your doctrine tells you it’s faith rather than works which gets you to heaven). You’ll forfeit your own salvation but you’ll be doing a good deed to all your victims. So get stabby.

    It’s amazing the twisted results you can get if you follow Christian doctrine to its logical conclusions.

  19. says

    Yeah, I strongly suspect that Anita disabled comments on her videos because she didn’t feel particularly inclined to listen to the likes of “Igor” and thousands of his fellow MRA Brave Heroes telling her how they hope she gets raped to death by water buffaloes with chainsaws. Not like they’d have the intelligence to employ such creativity in their insults.

    Anyway, flailing spittle-flecked misogynist rage will pretty much get you shown the door here right off, even if it weren’t completely off-topic to the thread it’s in. But at least Igor will be happy I’ve given him another chance to wail in some forum for butthurt whinging dudebros about how he was censored and bullied into silence by fem-fasci-nazi-stasi tyrants. Doesn’t sound like much of a pleasant life, but you can’t fix some people and shouldn’t try.

  20. says

    I agree it would be better if there were more jobs and less people on food stamp assistance. Too bad that the politicians who could do something about it, most of them conservative Christians, are refusing to pass or even introduce any jobs bills at all. Maybe they’re just waiting for the Lord to fix it.

  21. jdoran says

    Yet assuming their friendly space wizard would want to provide us with evidence of its existence that we’d find convincing is somehow presumptuous.

  22. steele says

    Martin,

    Yea I know the evil Christians don’t want to feed people, lol, what tripe….but you expound it so elegantly! Where does it say in the constitution about feeding people? Oh wait it doesn’t but it is in that evil bible where Jesus said feed my sheep but good thing we are keeping that out of our schools wouldn’t want the kids to learn compassionate and conservative ideas.

  23. Raymond says

    Clearly you are so enamored of your pet god that no one can change your mind. This has, unfortunately, led you to some major oversights in your logic. Since “better” is a subjective term, each person identifies if things are getting “better” or “worse” from their own perspective. Thus anyone who states things are getting better is correct. But anyone who states things are getting worse is correct also. A man can lose everything he owns and think things just got better; and a man can win the lottery and think things are getting worse.

    We are living in an era of huge changes. We have become less tribal. We have popularized specialization. We have access to information from around the globe. The average human life span has more than doubled now. Some might call that better, some worse. The truth is that things are different than they use to be; no more, no less. Whether you call it better or worse is only a testament to your mindset. That is the point that Martin is trying to make, I think.

    Now the repercussions of the evolution of societies has led to a relative decrease in self-sufficiency; and the corresponding increasing dependence on the greater population for basic needs. This is, again, not a good or bad thing. It just is the way it is. As we have progressed, here in the U.S., there has been an increasing disparity between the poor and the rich. Our society is set up so that the charismatic and the conniving are rewarded with a more lavish lifestyle. It just is the way it is. Any one of us could go out and develop those skills, to different degrees, and get that life-style too. We make personal decisions about what we are willing to do to achieve those things. So, mostly, everyone is where they are because they are unwilling to do what is necessary to be somewhere else. That is neither good nor bad. It’s just a decision.

    The overall point is that things just are what they are. You color that fact with your own perception. So someone who says that “things are getting better,” has colored the facts with a positive perception based on personal bias. And someone has said “things are getting worse,” has colored the facts with a negative perception based on a personal bias. In doing so you reveal your general frame of mind at the time, generally positive or generally negative. These things are like a Rorschach test for frame of mind. No more, No less. It just is what it is.

  24. says

    And yet the “compassionate conservatives” are the ones steadfastly against (among many other things) benefits and health care for the poor.

    Compassion…ur doin it rong.

  25. Raymond says

    I’ve always wondered why people do that. People must realize that, in our society, presentation is the key to getting your point heard. So why do people try to make arguments that are so poorly expressed, as Igor did above? We are typing into a blog, not arguing face-to-face. Take the time to present your information intelligently.
    Just wondering if there is a physiological or psychological explanation for that type of behavior.

  26. says

    Also, what the religious consider “moral decay” is often a very different thing from what secularists do. In the humanist world, we champion the advent of such things as LGBT marriage rights and increased opportunities and rights for women and minorities as victories for equality and social justice. Believers see those things as evidence of “moral decay.”

  27. Raymond says

    Why would you say that an atheist’s life has no meaning? We don’t have our meaning given to us, but we do have meaning in our lives. In fact it is the people who believe that they will live forever who have no meaning in their lives.

    Some unknowable being who can only communicate through an old book gives you meaning in the form of some promised utopia. What kind of meaning is that? In fact I guarantee that you give your own life meaning, independent of your god. You might have a song that has special meaning to you and a loved one. You might have a secret place that has meaning because of it’s proximity to a major life event. You might have a special talisman, of sorts, that has meaning because it reminds you of a lost love.

    None of these things are spoken of in your bible, but they have great meaning to you. I have these things in my life too. And I don’t detract from their importance by attributing them to a god. I acknowledge that the people who are represented by these artifacts, gave them to me of their own volition, because they loved me. Not because some sky-daddy forced them to give them to me. So rather than one 1600 year old book about a middle eastern pagan storm god telling me what I should care about, I get my meaning from a thousand different places that are personal and special.

  28. says

    The constitution may not say anything about feeding anyone but then it doesn’t promote slavery or bigotry either like the bible does. May be Steele if you actually read the bible in an objective manner as opposed to having it read to you, you might just start to realize that this god is not worth your or anyone elses time.
    You’re believing in superstition mumbo gumbo not reality!

  29. steele says

    Sir Real you state:

    “The constitution may not say anything about feeding anyone but then it doesn’t promote slavery or bigotry either like the bible does.”

    Have you ever heard of the 3/5ths clause??? Jim Crow Laws? Over 70 years of enshrined slavery and bigotry.

    Oh by the way this is from the constitution as well which I’m sure you atheists hate

    “done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independance of the United States of America the Twelfth In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names….”

    I wonder which Lord that is….hmmmm

    Atheism is a road to no where and for a group that can have no objective morality atheists sure like to preach what others should believe.

    Lastly Raymond….uh I already basically said that and that was my main point, try to keep up.

    Thanks

  30. Narf says

    You’re grasping for the dating convention of the time period in order to validate your vapid desire to proclaim this a Christian nation? Seriously?

  31. says

    Good question when you said which Lord that is. Lord and Master are terms used by a slave for the one who owns them. So in other words if you except Jesus as your Lord and Savior then you have aready submitted to salvery. Besides if you choose one god over the rest then your the one who is discriminating. Unlike atheists who remain objective. So if you what to live in a theocracy where there is no freedom of religion, there’s always Iran. Nice try though Steele.

  32. says

    Your correct about Christians not being positive because being a Christian means that you are a slave to Sky Daddy and you better not piss him off like Satan pissed him off or else he will torture you forever. Who wants to piss off a god who is a megalomaniac who never forgives his enemies.

  33. says

    ” Atheism is a road to no where and to have a group that can have no objective morality atheist sure like to preach what othes should believe.”

    The next time you use the word objective first make sure your not being unreasonably biased, other wise your just being a hypocrite and a bigot.

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