29 October 2008

The Alpha Course is Pissing Me Off

One thing that is surprising me about my participation in the Alpha Course is that my anger boils to the surface at very odd provocations.

For instance, it’s not the terrible doctrine discussed during Day 4 that pisses me off (that the vast majority of humanity is condemned to eternal torment in hell through no fault of their own) . What pissed me off was the uncritical 180 degree turn the people in my group made, a turn they made without realizing or acknowledging it. They have suspended their critical faculties. In return, I get angry.

Again, another example is the repeated claim that the historical evidence for Jesus’s life is as strong as for any person in history, with Gumbel using the Julius Caesar analogy in an earlier sermon and the lawyer guy using Alexander the Great yesterday. What bothers me is that it’s such a weird claim to make. I’ve repeatedly pointed out to my group that I don’t need evidence for Jesus’s life to be as strong as for Caesar; just provide SOME good evidence that he was as advertised (which they haven’t done, but I don’t really begrudge them that). But what they do is keep making extravagant claims about how fantastically well historically supported Jesus is, "As much as anyone else in history," despite all evidence to the contrary. Frankly, that just hurts my brain and tremendously pisses me off.

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9 Comments:

At October 29, 2008 10:31 AM, Blogger C. L. Hanson said...

Wow. I've been following your Alpha Course series, and while your posts about it are interesting, I'm glad I'm not sitting through this myself...

 
At October 30, 2008 9:03 PM, Blogger King Aardvark said...

I wish I wasn't sitting through them myself. Too much like being back in my old catholic highschool, listening to the droning masses or sitting throuh awful religion classes. Thankfully, it's a good environment so I don't feel too stressed out except by the stupidity.

Thanks for reading :-)

 
At November 01, 2008 3:11 PM, Anonymous Annie said...

It's been interesting. I think your standards for the other folks are too high. They want to believe. They have personal reasons for needing to believe. Failure to believe means they will have to deal with their own mortality, and their own sucky lives and who wants to go there?

How much more of this do you have to endure for the blow job or whatever the payoff was? LOL

 
At November 02, 2008 6:42 PM, Blogger King Aardvark said...

Is it too much to expect that these people would exhibit some degree of rational, adult thought? I would like them to address their own beliefs, but really, this is about me and not them. I just can't stand the sorry excuse for a discussion these people are responsible for much longer.

Hmm, I should have held out for a payoff.

 
At November 08, 2008 12:06 PM, Blogger Mephitis said...

Not to mention it's a lot of tosh; there's _much_ more evidence of Julius Caesar's existence: nice solid things like gold coins with his face & name on 'em, buildings he commissioned and so forth. It's not all paperwork.

While, obviously, you couldn't expect those sorts of confirmations for an itinerant rabbi/rabble-rouser/magician/messiah type of chap, it makes you wonder. It's an argument based on what: a lie? a misconception? lack of knowledge of the real life artifacts? omission of those as important or relevant?

Essentially, Jesus has nothing like the same level of evidence that Caesar does.

 
At November 08, 2008 12:10 PM, Blogger Mephitis said...

Sorry if that came over 'granny suck eggs' ish, I just started ranting away. :)

 
At November 11, 2008 1:48 AM, Blogger King Aardvark said...

mephitis, that was essentially my point. It's a false and shitty comparison. Not exactly damning to the historicity of Jesus, but the fact that his followers are either really dumb or intentionally lying hurts his case as well.

 
At November 19, 2008 9:57 PM, Blogger Tom Foss said...

Sorry for the thread necro; I've been reading through this series the last couple of days, and there's a bit of synchronicity going on. The last couple of episodes of The Atheist Experience have featured a caller who is in a similar spot to the folks in your class--their moral standards are better than God's. They're up against a dilemma--they believe that God is the author of morality and that God is all loving and all just and so forth, but then they're faced with doctrine which is clearly not loving and not just--and they recognize this because their moral values are superior to those of the Bronze Age tribes who wrote the Bible.

In order to deal with the dissonance, something has to give. So they discard the bits of the Bible that contradict their personal morality and assume that God's morals are in-line with what they know to be moral.

It wouldn't be unfair to call them out on this, I don't think. How do they know which parts to ignore? How do they reconcile the all-loving, all-just God with infinite torture, or the stories of Jephthah and Elisha and the various genocides and where God orders the Israelites to kill all the Midianites except the young girls, who they should "keep for themselves"? Why is it that when faced with proof that their God is a sadistic bully, they cannot come to the conclusion that he doesn't live up to his own hype? If your father told you that if you don't love him, he'll lock you up in the basement and torture you for the rest of your life, would you assume that you just didn't understand his morals and that he probably had your best interests in mind?

At least speaking for myself, though I wasn't ever much of a staunch believer, it's the cafeteria Christianity that helped lead me away from theism entirely. Eventually there's a tipping point where I realized that I was ignoring so much of what the Bible said about God because it didn't fit my idea of what a God would be like, that my God clearly wasn't the God of Christianity or any other mainstream religion. It took a few years of vague spiritualism and agnosticism, but eventually I took the plunge, and I've never been more at peace with my beliefs.

Sorry for the long post and tangent there; my point is that these questions, this discomfort, could be the first step for getting these people to actually think about what they believe, and what a terrible tyrant their religion promotes.

 
At November 23, 2008 3:54 PM, Blogger King Aardvark said...

Hmm, Tom, I think you're right here. I have been losing my zeal, but I could certainly discuss this in the group (I had once before, but I hadn't made it into a key part of my arguments). Actually, I've noticed that people are having a problem with their morals being better than God's at the Retreat weekend. However, they don't seem to think that it's a problem with God as they just think that God just has ethical loopholes that he didn't bother to tell us about in the bible.

 

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