Thursday, March 22, 2007

Separate and Unequal – A Christian Odyssey Into Nothingness

This post was going to go unsent for a couple of days, but in a number of blogs (such as this Friendly Atheist post and this PZ Myer's post) they've been pointing out the MySpace clone, Everything after this paragraph was written before I found out about but I think everyone will agree that it applies and supports my argument.

It wasn't until the Left Behind series had been going for many years that I ever heard of it. I read science-fiction and fantasy and I hadn't heard of it, because for a fairly long time the only place that sold the Left Behind books were Christian bookstores. It didn't stop them from doing very, very well.

Recently, Christians have opened the doors for Conservapedia. A Wikipedia-esque site for conservatives! Also recently coming online has been GodTube, a Christian alternative to YouTube. Also, the homeschooling movement, which is being primarily driven by fundamentalist Christians who don't want their kids to be exposed to sex education and science.

It is looking to me like Christians are starting to . . . opt out. During the 60s, hippies had a saying, “Tune in, turn on, drop out.” Well, it's looking a lot like 21st century Christians have discovered this. There seems to be some attempt to withdraw from society – to create a second . . . world. A world where a Christian can do everything that they do without having to contact anyone that ruffles their beliefs at all. They can go to Christian book and movie stores, go to Christian schools, have a Christian Internet. They can create a Christian bubble around themselves, completely ignorant of society at large! And, unlike those hippies, there are two hundred million of them in America.

There are two points, though, I want to make.

The first is even as they try to withdraw from society, they are nevertheless mimicking the very things that they despise. GodTube and Conservapedia are not innovations – but copies. Even now, they are dependent on the outside world to pull away from it. They hope by mimicking something they can exceed it? Rather than demonstrate what a pitiful copy it is? Well, good luck with that.

The second point is that it displays how frightened Christians are of the world. They're terrified of us, so much so that they're retreated into an increasingly closed society. I can't think of any humanist or atheist comparison. Oh, sure, we have our own organizations and all, but we're not trying to create a separate world for ourselves. We understand, generally, that we have to get by in this world and we engage in this world.

I suspect this will create a strange loop. The more they retreat the more, well, other people will step up. Not just atheists, either, but all the fringe groups, gays, feminists, Muslims, Wiccans, New Agers, you name it. And the more they/we step up, the more the conservative Christians will retreat.

Then, like a black hole eaten of it's own mass, they'll disappear.

At least, I hope.

There is precedent for this. The pagan religions that Christianity replaced, some of them were well over 2000 years old. Christians like to think that something that has existed for so long must continue to do so indefinitely (or, at least, to the end of the world – which they're still waiting for, after 2000 years), but there's no reason to assume that, none at all.

So, I say, let them retreat into their shells!

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beepbeepitsme said...

I thought they were insular enough already.

March 23, 2007 3:55 AM  
Chris Bradley said...

I guess that's what you mean by "enough". ;)

I think that the nature of being insular might have undergone a revolution. At one time, being insular meant, y'know, taking your nutty friends and going off in the wilderness, physically separating yourself from the other people. Now they can give a shot at this while remaining comfortable in their suburban homes, which makes it a lot more attractive (and which, I suspect, will doom the enterprise to failure, if in a slightly different way).

March 23, 2007 9:41 AM  
Homo Escapeons said...

What an insightful examination. Since 'the book' was largely copied and borrowed heavily from previous attempts by earlier civilizations to establish 'the god' this should not come as a surprise.

What troubles me the most is the stubborn refusal to enter the 21st Century given all of the empirical and scientific information that is at our disposal.

Every inch of reasonable data as to WHO and WHAT we really are has been fought against tooth and nail by those who are 'hell bent' on retaining control over their adherents.

The internet, in the long run, will work against their retreat because reality stands out like a sore thumb and for every invention that they copy someone will dismantle their position with answers that are as obvious as they are honest.

Ironically the TRUTH shall set many of them from the guilt ridden slavery that takes far more effort to maintain than surrendering to the 'Nirvanic' state of accepting that these archaic notions just do not stand up to scrutiny.
Time to move forward and refurbish whatever time we have left before the next extinction level event decides for us.

March 23, 2007 10:30 AM  
Chris Bradley said...

homo escapeons,

Thanks for the compliment!

I'm obviously concerned about religion's consistent focus of accepting a book of literature as perfect and unchangeable, even at the expense of a person's reason, experience and the evidence of their senses. Religion, these days, in many ways strikes me as organized insanity. If a person, outside of religion, held such obviously false beliefs with such conviction we'd call them schizophernic. But within the context of religion it's considered necessary to hold these patently untrue beliefs as being more real than consensual reality, reason and sense evidence.

Tho', like you, I figure their plan is doomed. Society is moving away from religion on all levels -- intellectually, politically, epistemologically, you name it. Heck, it wouldn't surprise me if, ere long, religion moved away from religion! There's got to be a more sensible way to give people what they get out of religion in another way (which segues into my post about the Unitarians).

March 23, 2007 12:20 PM  
Krystalline Apostate said...

They're terrified of us, so much so that they're retreated into an increasingly closed society.
Hmmm...why does that sound familiar?
Wasn't there a group of people who were in almost all ways fully insular, even while living in the midst of a variety of societies?
Ah yes...the Israelites.

March 23, 2007 8:54 PM  

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