My Conversation with Summer M. and Tammy B.
This conversation started as either Summer or someone else posted something on Facebook about some church corruption involving political contributions or the like. I don’t recall why I felt compelled to speak up as the germ of the conversation almost completely escapes me, so it must not have made any real impact. No matter as the conversation quickly turned. My text is in italics. Summer’s and Tammy’s are in bold. Comments are in plain.
Summer M. See it all the time here in America In different ways. Wrong priorities. God’s church is not a building it is His people.
Though I never brought this up with Summer, I find this idea interesting and perplexing. If God’s capital-C Church is His people, then why do so many of those people build so many churches? Why not just meet in parking lots or each other’s houses? I know that happens with things like Bible-study groups. I imagine one reason is space and a sound system for the pastors to preach, but couldn’t that be done in parks? Isn’t that what was done during the great 19th century revivals? It just seems a bit of a false sentiment the whole “people” part.
Summer M. The whole world is corrupt not just churches, take politicians for example… If politicians really cared about our country they would use all those funds they are good at raising to build the economy up instead of building themselves up with advertising. Imagine if Mitt Romney and Barack Obama chose to use the money they raise to help people. But that will never happen.
It really bothers me when people say shit like “politicians are corrupt.” To me, it’s the negative equivalent of saying “babies are cute.” Yes, your statement usually is true, so what’s your point?
Anton Hill This is no surprise. Churches, like governments and corporations, exist to perpetuate themselves. Not too different from organic life.
I wish I’d gone into more detail on this as I think it was actually a pretty good point, but I just let it sit there in its underdeveloped, no-examples-cited glory.
Anton Hill @Summer Political campaigns cost money. How are politicians supposed to get elected?
Summer M. Believe me if they gave their money to help people it would make the news everywhere, if they truly gave with their heart people would notice. I know I’d vote for them. Think about how drastic of a thing it would be. Instead of talking abou…
She didn’t say anything further that would knock your socks off.
Summer M. Yes I do live in a fairy tale of dreams haha lol
Anton Hill @Summer I understand your feeling, but in modern society, it simply isn’t possible to get enough attention as a candidate without spending money. While using a fresh tactic of raising money and giving it away might make temporary headlines, I doubt it’d win a campaign.
I actually think Summer”s argument was even more problematic than that like, why would people donate to a campaign only to have that campaign donate to a charity? Why not donate direclty to that charity and cut out the campaign middle man?
I’m all for churches selling their property, but I’m more for them being taxed like the rest of us.
Or God could just make poverty vanish. 🙂
Summer M. Unfortunately it isn’t a perfect world and God gave us the free will and well…. a lot of people make stupid decisions on their own. Lol
It’s not that this was a stupid thing for her to say; it was. But it’s just so… oversimplifying? What, God couldn’t be bothered to make a perfect world? Oh, that’s right. Original sin. But wait, isn’t that doctrine entirely based on the notion of the Adam/Eve story being literally true which, per DNA evidence, we know it isn’t? Yeah, I know. Reality’s a bitch.
Too, the “stupid decisions” argument is fundamentally flawed. What, people investing in their retirement was a stupid decision? Or was it Wall Street executives blowing that cash on various things I won’t go into now? But wait, a Wall Street executive’s decision is independent of an individual investor’s decision to invest. So who’s decision, and thus free will, is more important to God?
Tammy B. As a pastor who has seen my share of plates passed for building funds while people both inside and outside the doors of the church go hungry or homeless or without health care it is more than hmmm………so much more than hmmmm.
What the fuck is wrong with her congregation?? They voluntarily give up their money to build a church, money which could be used to feed themselves? What, is it the First Stupid Church of Stupid People?
Anton Hill @Summer The doctrine of free will makes no sense in a universe created and controlled by an omnipotent, omniscient god. Such a god would know everything: every thought and feeling we’ll ever have, and every action we’ll ever take, thousands (or billions) of years before we’re born. Thus, we never have a choice in anything.
Besides, free will isn’t applicable to a child born into poverty. Such circumstances aren’t a choice.
And many poverty-related circumstances aren’t a choice. It wasn’t my mom’s choice to get MS and thus be unable to work.
And aren’t we talking about the same god who supposedly personally showed up over and over in human affairs to tell us what to do?
I wish I hadn’t started so many sentences with “and.” Very sloppy. Kind of how I end every fucking sentence with “so…” when speaking.
Anton Hill @Tammy Why doesn’t God just drop manna and houses? They say he’s done it before.
Tammy B. never responded, which was a real disappointment to me as, presumably, she was an authority on the subject and so feasibly could’ve answered my questions. That was honestly a tough one to let go. I kept hitting “refresh” on my iPhone with the hopes that Tammy B. would respond. No dice. 😦
Summer M. @Anton I hear what you’re saying. But knowing what someone is going to do, think, or feel and forcing them to do it are different things. But you are right a child born into poverty didn’t choose that but somewhere along the line someone chose something that put them in that situation… if not someone back in his family line or someone in the government, etc. What we choose to do affects the lives of not only us but others too. And I understand how you feel about your mom’s MS. I said the same thing when my dad got cancer. I don’t believe God caused his cancer to happen, I believe in all things God works for good. We may not understand it but I guess that’s where faith comes in. God still works miracles today but people don’t recognize it happening. I remember being in the ambulance jet with my dad leaving Venezuela and going to the US for open heart surgery. The doc said he was like a time bomb about to go off. I sat as his feet crying and praying at 8 years old while he layed in a stretcher thousands of feet above the air. When we arrived at the hospital in the US the doctors took him in and hours later came back out and said they couldn’t understand it but what was there wasn’t anymore and his heart was perfect. I know that had to be a higher power. God wants his people to have faith though…. to believe without seeing. But that doesn’t mean God isn’t working in our midst everyday. That is what I believe at least.
Anton Hill @Summer Yes, knowing and forcing are two different things semantically, but if a god knows all our thoughts, feelings, and actions before we’re born, just that simple fact that those things are foretold before our awareness of them means that they exist without our input. From our perspective, we may be making a choice, but our perspective is irrelevant to the experience of an omnipotent, omniscient, eternal god who knew what we’d choose before we were born.
Why do you think that the alleged value of free will should outweigh the consequence of a child born into poverty? Why shouldn’t a child be protected from another individual’s poor decisions? Certainly, an omnipotent god could figure out a way to accomplish free will for the individual while protecting the child from undeserved suffering.
My only point with my mom’s MS is that free will doesn’t apply in her case, so the citation of such being an acceptable explanation for what you called corruption isn’t so. The consequence of her being impoverished is a direct result of her disease which she didn’t choose and no one chose for her.
How did God not cause your father’s cancer? God supposedly created those who led to your father, genetic mutations and all. Even if you were to cite outside influences such as smoking, drinking, or industrialization as contributing or causal factors to your dad’s cancer, all of those things are a direct result of God.
This last point on “industrialization” was my weakest, mainly because I didn’t really explain what I was talking about. She could easily have argued that industrialization isn’t necessarily a direct result of god, but rather a direct result of man’s decisions.
I’ve never understood the premise that God works for good. This clearly isn’t supported by the evidence. Even if we discount bad things like crime and corruption to humanity’s failings, that still doesn’t account for famine, disease, and natural disasters, none of which we have any control over.
I should’ve also cited the many times in the Bible (and other books) during which God killed, tortured, and maimed people, often for no objectively good reason.
Why is faith good? The definition of faith I’ve heard–belief in something either without evidence to support it or despite evidence to the contrary of it–seems about equal to believing something for no good reason or simply because one wants to. But neither of these definitions is desirable, especially when we apply them to every non-god thing. Thus, why would we apply them to a god?
What, specifically, do you consider a miracle? From every anecdote I’ve ever heard, including yours, it seems to be something that happens that is considered unlikely to have happened. If this is your definition, the harder task isn’t finding miracles, but rather not finding miracles as almost everything that happens fits this definition.
This was also a weak conclusion. Obviously, not everything is considered “unlikely” to happen. I should’ve given some specific examples.
How do you know that a higher power interceded? If God stepped in to cure your dad’s heart, why didn’t God just step in before your dad’s heart was in any danger to begin with? Why were your prayers necessary? And doesn’t God’s intercession violate your dad’s free will of having made decisions in his life that led to his heart attack?
And what does this say of God’s capriciousness? A former work colleague of mine lost his 8-year-old daughter to Chron’s disease. Why didn’t a higher power save her? They prayed. And a family friend of mine died of end-stage liver disease after six months of endless, agonizing suffering. Why didn’t God save her? My godmother’s undergoing chemo for her cancer. Why doesn’t God cure her? Why doesn’t God cure my mom’s MS? Why did God pick your dad over any of these other people?
I’ve actually yet to hear any real answer form anyone on these questions. Most times, people just mutter something about “mysterious ways” or admit that they don’t know; that God’s ways are not our ways, blah blah blah. What I’d like to hear is why someone specifically themselves believes that it’s okay that God cures some people of terminal disease, but not others.
Hell, I was born with achromatopsia nystagmus which has seemed to serve absolutely no purpose other than to lead to my near-demise on countless occasions in front of cars and even more countless headaches. Sure, I’ve adapted over the years to deal with it, but to what end?
Why does God want people to believe without seeing? God values gullibility over reasoned conclusions based on tested evidence?
If God works in our midst every day, then what’s the point of free will?
Sorry for all the questions, Summer, I just don’t understand why you believe any of this or why you’d want to. With all the evidence to the contrary and opposing belief systems, it makes no sense.
I never heard back form Summer. I wasn’t surprised, especially given my, er, dissertations, but It was frustrating her dishing out of verbose hogwash without backing it up.
It really is true what people like Sam Harris have observed. In conversation, once someone drops the “faith” bomb, the social expectation is that all questions or any other pursuit of the subject be dropped. But i’ve never truly understood this. Why is it socially acceptable to make declarative statements about children dying of cancer, but your stupid dad’s heart miraculously being healed, but it’s not socially acceptable to express skepticism on the doctrinal discrepancies? I’m guessing because in social interactions, social cohesion, often simple agreement, trumps social dissonance, which would be an obvious and often inevitable result of someone questioning someone else’s faith.
The problem I have with that, however, is that, in my opinion, too often, dangerous doctrines of faith go unchecked for fear of social dissonance where real, life-affecting consequences might be the result. Which is why I generally feel that it’s worth the risk of social dissonance to hold people responsible for their beliefs. Of course, as I’ve seen, often when I attempt to do this, believers usually just shut down and run away. Thus, alas, a real, effective solution to my problem has yet to present itself.