Why rain on their parade?

Personal responsibility and why the right should consider losing their faith

Common wisdom tells us that republicans and libertarians put a lot of stock into the virtue of personal responsibility.  For instance, most would agree that the recent housing market crash was a glaring example of the ills of irresponsibility.  I would venture to guess that, if given the chance, most would gladly go back in time and warn of the terrible toll our country’s financial irresponsibility would take (In fact, one need not go back in time to see this kind of warning taking place; it does currently by many on the right).  This is because personal irresponsibility when compounded by many becomes collective irresponsibility, which is corrosive and dangerous.  If you happen to agree with the previous statements, congratulations: You may already have an atheist mindset.  How are these seemingly disparate concepts intertwined?

I’ll start by saying that we atheists tend to get a bad rap.  The most common ending to a theological debate is where the theist concedes that most religious beliefs are a bit far-fetched, but “that’s why it’s called faith and hey, if it makes people happy to believe it, what’s the harm?  Why would you want to rain on their parade?”

Well let’s think about some other far-fetched ideas that make people happy to believe.  How about the idea that they can afford a house that is, in fact, outside their price range?  I imagine it is a nice feeling for them to believe that they have the money and can afford a nice place, and who are you to rain on their parade?

See, when taken individually, little suspensions of reason don’t seem that troublesome.  What’s the harm in one person believing they can afford a house they actually cannot or one person following religious dogma based on claims that are a bit far-fetched?  Very little, I suppose, but when compounded by many, these little suspensions of reason become collective irresponsibility, and as we agreed earlier, that is corrosive, dangerous and precisely “the harm”.

And if you’re religious and reading this, I know what you’re thinking: Irresponsibility?  Is that how you’re choosing to characterize those of religious faith?  As irresponsible?” I would argue it is the exact correct word to use.  Religion trades in absolving their followers from personal responsibility.

Most Christians believe that sins can be wiped clean through prayer and belief in Jesus.  This is the quintessential example of absolution of responsibility for one’s actions.  Also, gay marriage is not allowed in most states because many believe God doesn’t approve of it.  It’s not up to us!  We’re not responsible. The big guy upstairs is, and he doesn’t like it!  Those who target and kill doctors who provide abortions do so because they believe they are on a mission from God, that they are simply the messengers (as were the 9/11 hijackers). They are also not responsible; they were just following God’s orders.  People have and will continually absolve themselves of responsibility if they believe they have divine permission.

But what’s really the harm?

With financial irresponsibility, we know how bad it can get.  When collective financial irresponsibility became corrosive to the point that the bottom fell out in 2008, people lost a lot of money and many lost their homes.

When it comes to religion, we have yet to truly find out.  Though when considering the idea that most religions believe that the afterlife is more splendid than our earthly life, it paints a very dangerous picture in a world with nuclear weapons.

So consider forgetting God, religion, and every other little suspension of reason and live exercising complete personal responsibility.  After all, if you warn of the dangers of irresponsibility when potential loss of money is at hand, how about when the stakes are higher?

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6 thoughts on “Why rain on their parade?

  1. Ward Altman says:

    You said that you created this blog for people with doubts. I had a faith crisis in college and understand that feeling. I began to wonder if I was a Christian because I was born into a Christian home. Over the next few months I researched science and apologetics. I finally came to the conclusion that the universe could not have popped out of nowhere on its own. I realized something eternal created the finite and something outside of what we could see created the visible. I could not believe the leading scientists’ claim that the universe sprung from nothing without a cause. My faith in a creator became grounded.
    I also spent time reading all the major religions of the world. Some were easy to eliminate such as Wiccan because they worshipped creation and I believed in a creator. Confucianism only concerned itself with wise living in this life. It did not directly address the implications of a creator God.
    Of religions concerned with more than this life, the uniqueness of one Christian attribute shone through. Just like you mentioned, Christians believe that only God has the power to forgive sins and we must put our trust in Him rather than ourselves for salvation.
    All the other religions believed living a “good enough” life could set you in right standing with God or the higher power which goes against the very heart of the gospel. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph 2:8-10). The rest of the world says we can be good enough to earn the eternal one’s good favor. Only Christianity relies completely on God’s mercy to be made right with Him.
    I looked at my life and I saw so many flaws. I can’t remember if I knew fancy words like “total depravity” but I believed I was a sinner. I couldn’t imagine that a sinful man like me could earn his way to heaven. “Now, my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” By God’s grace, my faith was strengthened from this crisis. My intellectual assent became founded on the solid rock and has remained strong ever since.
    However, this intellectual assent did not increase my love commitment. It wasn’t until years later that I fully devoted my life to Jesus … but that’s another story.
    Now, my faith is based more on relationship. He’s answered prayers and I’ve experienced His presence in worship and quiet times spent with Him.

    In the end, accepting Christ is more personal than logical. The Best Sermon I’ve heard on the personal nature of faith is by Andy Stanley. Check it out below if you’re interested.

    Hey Santiago! I love my logical husband and I also want to point out that faith is an emotional relationship as well. I struggled with doubt too and would pray to “give God a chance.” He has loved, provided for, and revealed Himself and I will be forever thankful.
    Your wife is beautiful! I wish we lived closer so we could hang out and have these heart to hearts 🙂 Love, Jamie

    • sarchila says:

      Oh wow. Thanks Ward and Jamie for responding! There is so much here, and this is a big reason why I feel like this blog is worth doing; because there IS so much to say about it. I feel like I have ideas to discuss for the next few blog posts! hehe

      I didn’t know you were having a crisis of faith at the time during college. So was I, in a way. Well, truthfully more like a crisis of non-faith. See, I never really “felt it” going to church growing up, but during college was when I became to accept that it really was okay to cross that “threshold” -so to speak- into non-belief and atheism, and that’s what this blog is about to me. As a way of helping others accept that there is absolutely nothing wrong with deciding to hold your own self personally responsible for your actions (this particular blog post’s topic), and doing right, not because of a promise of heaven, but because it is the right thing to do. I will touch more on this in my next post…. Stay tuned! 🙂

  2. Brandon R says:

    Santiago, does this mean you are no longer a member of the Church of the Inoculate?

  3. Alex Kennedy says:

    Santiago,

    I have enjoyed reading through your posts this afternoon I find I share your views. Though I would contend that the housing crash had a lot more to do with the greed of a few and ignorance of the many. If you haven’t already I suggest reading “God is not Great: how religion poisons everything” by the late, great Christopher Hitchens. I think you will find it an entertaining and informative read which goes in depth on some of the points you brought up above in your post. Anyway, keep up the good work.

    • sarchila says:

      Thanks man. I’ll have to read that book sometime. I’ve seen videos of Hitchens debate, and he does make some really strong points. Thanks for the support!

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