I’ve Heard Enough

Uncomfortable truths. Inconvenient facts. Startling revelations. These things can change how we view the world around us. They can affect us deeply and send us down paths we never thought we would ever go down. They can drive us into deep introspection and shake us to our core. If…

If only we let them. If we allow ourselves to accept truth and reject that which is untrue or impossible to prove, we can make great strides in this world. We are all faced with choices in this life. One choice we need to make is this: will we live our lives based on facts, evidence and truth…or will we pick and choose what we believe in based on raw emotion, intuition or even based on the fear of what others around us might think? Each of us has to decide if facts matter. If evidence matters. If being actually (and factually) correct in our beliefs matters. Or is just being comfortable in our lives good enough?

For many beliefs, our comfortability is sufficient because we can feel good about ourselves without harming others. But what about the beliefs that lead to actions that affect others? Are those beliefs okay, even if they are based solely on our gut feelings and our biases? What if my beliefs force a teenage girl to carry a baby to term after being raped? What if my beliefs lead to the ostracization of same sex couples? What if their lives are made miserable because of hateful rhetoric and exclusion? What if my beliefs lead me to teach my own children untruths and altered history?

A lot of these things do still happen. These are not things that used to happen but no longer do. They most certainly are still part of the world we live in. A lot of beliefs persuade people to resort to violence, destruction, spewing of hate and other vile things. A lot of beliefs cause children to grow up unprepared to thrive in the real world. They simply repeat the same harmful things that they were taught. Some beliefs lead people to think that what others do is always their business. They feel an obligation to call out what they feel is immoral behavior, even when it isn’t. These harmful beliefs have led to atrocities being committed all throughout human history. Where do these beliefs come from? What is the source? Well, it’s complicated, as there is not just one source.

Some of these unfounded beliefs come from religion. Some “holy” books claim that a lot of hateful things are actually good because they come from God. According to the book I once believed in, homosexuality is a sin. Abortion is murder and murder is a sin. Rapists are let off of the hook for their crimes if they marry their victims. There are countless other examples of wrong-thinking that can be found there. You can research it yourself with a few simple clicks online or even read some of my older posts. I could list them here, but it would be a very long list. And spare me the “well, that was the old testament” b.s. It’s the same god in both the old and new testaments. And God isn’t supposed to change, remember? The point is that even just one belief (based on anonymous words said to be inspired by a god) that is harmful to others is one too many. Just one example should be enough for someone to stop and think about whether or not what they believe in is justified. But not all do.

Not all bad ideas and beliefs come from religious sources. Some are politically motivated. Some people are so moved by leaders that they ignore the facts (or lack thereof) and storm government buildings. I know that the story of the riotous mob at the US capitol has been talked about at length, so I will just say this about it: Five people are now dead. DEAD. Five people died when a group of people who were upset about losing an election went somewhere they were not supposed to be and wreaked havoc. Why? Because they actually thought the results of the election would be overturned? No. It was because they felt that mob violence was justified as a rebuke of what they thought was a fraudulent election. They also felt they would be pleasing their leader by doing so. Bad idea. Feeding the ego of someone who thrives on power is not only wrong, but it is dangerous. And as we witnessed a week ago, it can be deadly.

Believing in true things is important. Following the evidence is a good thing. Ignoring evidence is dangerous because us separates us from reality. When we live our lives based on faith and “what just makes us feel good,” we run the risk of being indoctrinated by falsehoods, sometimes to the point of radicalization. Beliefs on their own are harmless. The thoughts in our heads don’t affect anyone else. It’s when we let them out that we need to be careful. Someone who thinks about killing people all the time is not guilty of anything. Their thoughts are their own and do no harm. They are just thoughts. However, they are potentially dangerous thoughts. What will it take to flip that switch from mere thought to an actual killing spree? Beliefs that are steeped in bigotry and hate, on their own, are also harmless…until we let them out. Then they become destructive.

Where are your beliefs coming from? Are they coming from solid evidence? Or do you believe things based on something that someone you trust taught you? Are their teachings backed by facts or opinion? Do you have good reason to trust such things? Did you fashion yourself a worldview based on something you read? From the Bible perhaps? And in that book, did you accept or reject things in totality or did you dismiss only that which you personally had issues with and keep the rest? Did you pick out the parts you agreed with and toss out the remainder as being irrelevant and unimportant? Did you reject the overall horribly written, drawn-out horror story and instead rewrite it as a much shorter love story? Can you justify believing in some but not all? Does it matter that this book wasn’t meant to be cherry-picked in this fashion? The ancient men who wrote it meant for it to be taken as a whole. It just happened to turn out to be a lemon. When you cherry-pick a lemon, you might get a much more palatable fruit salad of a belief system, but it could very well poison those of us who are allergic to certain fruits.

My point in all of this is that facts matter and evidence matters. Picking and choosing the parts of a story that you like and ignoring the rest is a dishonest way of going through life. If there is no evidence for any parts of the story, then you need to open a new book. If a leader is spreading misinformation, you need to stop following. This is evidence of being unfit to lead. It could be a political leader, a religious leader or any other group. If someone is feeding you misinformation with the goal of gaining control, they are not looking out for your best interests. They are looking out for their own. Stand up for truth. Stand up for others who are trapped in situations that make it impossible to break free from tyranny.

Never stop searching for truth and exposing lies. If you are going to live your life based on a story you’ve been told, make sure you hear the whole thing in order to make the most educated decision you can about whether or not to believe it and follow it. If you say, “I’ve heard enough” when you get to the feel-good parts because you are afraid to dig deeper and possibly hear things you don’t agree with, don’t stop. Keep reading. Have some integrity and look at the whole story. I know it’s scary because you might not be able to keep such a story on your must read list afterwards. It might make you toss out what you once believed in, but it is worth it. It allows you to rewrite your own story and follow the truth wherever it might lead.

And please, don’t do this to your children:

26 thoughts on “I’ve Heard Enough

  1. Thank you, Ben. I agree with your points. Our mental biases and cognitive pitfalls remain a stumbling block towards embracing or investigating “Uncomfortable truths. Inconvenient facts. Startling revelations.” Cognitive dissonance is always a very hard pill to swallow. Cherry-picking of data is a very tough habit to give up. I hope that you will find more answers and solutions to these thorny issues in my latest and recently expanded and updated post entitled “Misquotation Pandemic and Disinformation Polemic: Mind Pollution by Viral Falsity” and published at http://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2020/12/19/misquotation-pandemic-and-disinformation-polemic-mind-pollution-by-viral-falsity/

    I would be delighted if you could kindly submit your comment to my said article, as I am very keen and curious to know what you think or make of it regarding the increasingly pressing issues that many of us are facing, worsen all the more by mental pitfalls (or even mental health), social media, digital globalization, populism, Trumpism, illiberal democracy, and other behavioural and sociopolitical factors.

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    1. That kid, like so many others who were indoctrinated young, was spewing hate and condemnation…and had no idea why! He was simply doing what his daddy taught him to. It’s sad.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I came back after watching Matt go bananas! I love that man.
        I watched the first minute or so. Scary stuff. I presume the bloke speaking on his behalf at the beginning was his dad? (Didn’t watch to the end) Oprah looked a bit rattled , for a change!
        The perfect video to watch to begin de-conversion. And , of course, Child abuse 101.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Matt Dillahunty is brilliant in my opinion. Which is why so many believers dismiss him so quickly. They say he has no idea what he’s talking about, when he is spot on time and time again.

        This kid in the second video is a rather extreme example of indoctrination. I was raised to believe in what he believed in but was never inclined to shout my beliefs at anyone. But it doesn’t have to be extreme to be wrong and harmful. Filling a kid’s head with prejudices and misinformation will warp their sense of right and wrong and teach them to judge and exclude people who are different from them. Having bigotry taught as virtue has real world consequences and it’s hard to get it out once it’s been rammed into you.

        Child abuse indeed.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Apparently he got suspended multiple times from school from ‘screaming Bible verses at the top of his lungs on school grounds’ and got home schooled. I feel sorry for him actually, and hope he’s in a freer place now.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I’ve never heard of Matt Dillahunty. What does he do?

    Ben, I think your post just illustrates part of our problem in a nutshell, here. People coming from more conservative church backgrounds base their faith in the Bible. Folks coming more from the mainstream of the church center their faith in the church’s witness toward the incarnation and resurrection of Christ which is born witness to through the Scripture as well as church tradition.

    So, we filter everything more through that. As far as I know, this doctrine of the inerrancy of the Bible and all this entails was not really emphasized until around the time of the reformation.

    So, for someone like me to think that the writers of Scripture were using different genre to express truth, or that some parts of the Bible were also culturally bound, or perhaps not even written to be interpreted literally, or that God’s revelation, is progressive… This doesn’t feel to me like dishonesty or arbitrarily tossing out parts because I don’t personally agree.

    It feels like “rightly dividing the word of truth, ”

    I mean to use one example, I don’t even think that the Scripture is addressing sexual orientation in the way that we understand it today or the reality of gay people living in life-long. loving monogamous relationships…

    Or to share another example, I don’t think that Genesis was even written to share some kind of modern-day scientifically based cosmogeny.

    I suppose another way of saying this is that it’s possible to take the Bible seriously, but not always literally..

    People can dispute various passages and their meaning in the Scripture all day long. This doesn’t impact their faith in Jesus Christ or their love of God at all. They don’t see this as dishonesty or lack of reverence for Scripture which does contain and reflect the word of God.

    But, this is just not true for people coming from more conservative Christian backgrounds. Like I said, though, we can’t drag folks to where we’re at, either way, Ben.

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    1. Matt Dillahunty is a public speaker, debater and host of a radio call-in show. He is the president of the Atheist Community of Austin, Texas. He has debated many prominent Christian apologists. There are many videos of his work online. Definitely worth a watch.

      “Folks coming more from the mainstream of the church center their faith in the church’s witness toward the incarnation and resurrection of Christ which is born witness to through the Scripture as well as church tradition.”

      Again, we are coming back to beliefs. Where is the evidence of these things? “Church’s witness”? What did they witness? When? Where is the source of such a claim? How did the church of today witness the resurrection? How can we know that they got the correct story and that their testimony is reliable?

      You speak of the “inerrancy of the Bible” and how that is not something you subscribe to. So, are you saying that you are okay with errors and contradictions in the Bible? Which parts are true and which were written in error? If you dismiss the Bible as not being the true source and instead lean on the church’s teachings, how do you know that the church is correct? How did you end up being the lucky one who stumbled into the correct church in the correct denomination? That was rather fortunate. It’s kind of weird though, that all believers in churches say that, and they all seem to believe in different things.

      As I pointed out in Ark’s post, when you use phrases like (and these are from the above comment you made) “I think”, “for someone like me to think”, “doesn’t feel to me”, “It feels like”, “I don’t even think”, “I don’t think”, and “it’s possible to take the Bible seriously, but not always literally”, people who do not think like you will see that you are speaking of faith and not actual evidence. Those were phrases you used in just this one comment above. If you had some evidence, you would instead say, “I know this to be true because of (insert evidence here) and that is why I have justification for my beliefs.

      “we can’t drag folks to where we’re at, either way”

      Nope, we can’t. And we shouldn’t have to. People should be able to observe and review actual evidence and come to the same conclusions because they are incontrovertible. When people ignore evidence, or say that it doesn’t matter when they don’t have any that supports their own beliefs, it becomes hard to find common ground. If one side says, “I need to see it to believe it” and the other says, “I’m fine believing without seeing. That’s more meaningful anyway” then we’re just going to keep butting heads…or I’m just going to butt my own head against the wall when I hear the same religious platitudes over and over again.

      There should not be a conservative Christian background, or a progressive one or a fundamentalist one. There should be one truth that all can agree on and get behind because it is true. Beliefs in truth should be equal across the board. One group should not have a different version of truth than another. Truth does not have versions. It has evidence.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Ben, I want to jump back in and further share that this type of questioning and studying the Scripture in the long term has helped to deepen and strengthen my faith, especially if also done in the context of the Christian community as well.

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    1. If you have a deeper and stronger faith because of these conversations, I don’t think you took our views all that seriously. If you did, I think that aside from some introspection, you would have taken a break to do a lot of research to see if your beliefs were based on sound reasoning. Studying the scripture is not research. Studying the history of where scripture comes from would help. Studying the history of the church, from a historical perspective, rather than as an internal faith-based endeavor, would help. Studying what constitutes evidence would also help. Logical fallacies, which Matt Dillahunty is great at explaining, would be something to look into. If you are believing based on logical fallacies, that’s something to think about.

      I am always open to conversation, but I also don’t see how further conversation would be fruitful without being open to reason. I have four children. I know when they are really listening to me and when they are not. If I tell them to stop doing something when they are being bad, I’ll sometimes hear “Yeah, yeah, I heard you Dad.” but when I ask them what I just said, they draw a blank and continue doing what they were doing anyway. Listening is different from hearing. If you are just listening to what we are saying but are not willing to entertain the idea of being wrong about things, then you didn’t actually hear what we were saying.

      Deeper faith is not possible when you dig deeper and search OUTSIDE of the church for the truth. It’s just not. I think you may be looking for treasure where none is buried. What you have dug up may be gold to you, but it’s not. It is merely pyrite that was buried by a group of people with an agenda.

      Pyrite, for those who are unfamiliar with the term, is “Fool’s Gold.” It may be shiny like gold, but has little to no actual value.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. But, Ben, you’re assuming that I”m not aware of the textual variants within the texts of the Scripture, or that I haven’t studied how the church recognized or determined the canon. Not that I’m this great scholar, I’m not. But, we are not drawing the same conclusions from the examination of the available evidence. But, you’re right, we probably do need to let go of this.

        I understand and still have appreciated the discussion. And, of course, we could all be wrong. 🙂

        Pax.

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      2. I’m not 100% sure you understand what I meant. Studying the textual variants through the lens of church teachings is not the same as researching on your own. Researching without relying on the guidance of the church and instead trying to understand what non-believing scholars have to say on the subject is vitally important in getting to the facts. And I’m not saying that you have never done this, mind you, but your beliefs you have shared here suggest that you have not looked at this from the outside in, but rather from the inside to your neighbors who are also on the inside.

        There is nothing but scripture and church tradition as your “available evidence.” You are looking at something that I don’t see is even there. Of course our conclusions will be different based on that. If I say, “where is the evidence? I don’t see any” and you respond with, “Look around, it’s everywhere” then we are as far apart on this as one can get.

        It’s a good conversation to have. I am always willing to share my thoughts, even if they are summarily rejected.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Ben, I agree with you that we all reflect a bias, and evaluate evidence within a certain paradigm.

    It can be very challenging for all of us to step outside of that. Please don’t feel that I don’t value any of your observations or because we can’t come to a consensus, I’m not valuing or respecting you as a person. Nothing could be further from the truth to my mind.

    We can only agree to disagree for now.

    Pax.

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    1. @ Becky
      Your responses, comes across to me as little more than apologetic gobbly-gook and verging on blatant disengenuity.

      Ben deconverted because of lack of evidence not because of bias or because he saw it through a ”different lens”.

      This can be demonstrated and tested in a very simple and straightforward manner.

      Please provide the evidence for the following bible various claims.

      1. The Virgin Birth of the character Jesus.

      2. The evidence for Jesus’ actions and speech in the Garden of Gethsemane while Peter and the sons of Zebedee had dozed off. Twice!

      3. The evidence for the resurrection of Lazarus.

      4. The burial tomb of the character Jesus of Nazareth.

      If you insist that these claims are stand-alone evidence and more than mere literary claims then what convinced you of their veracity.
      But +please, Becky, for a change, I do not require any convoluted explanation, as I am only interested in evidence to verify the biblical claims. So let’s keep your answers concise and free of rhetoric.

      Ark.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. May I interject? (HA! Already have … !!)

        The “evidence” that you continue to ask for, Ark, is in the bible! For goodness sake, haven’t you figured that out yet? What? You say you don’t put any credibility into the bible? Well horrors! What to do? What to do?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. ”May I interject?”
        Er … No?

        I gather this is the case, however, I want to be sure that for Becky, and others, she feels this is all the ”evidence ” required.
        Of course, this raises the two-pronged response regarding Faith and Indoctrination – the response that has been trotted out more often than a stable full of gymkhana horses.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Ark, before I go, here’s an interesting article from the National Geographic relating to archaeological investigation into what the church identifies as the burial tomb of Jesus. I feel like the evidence is not irrefutable and is indirect, but interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this, but there have been many archaeological finds confirming various things and practices described in the Scripture..Anyway hope the link works. Take care.

        https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2016/10/jesus-christ-tomb-burial-church-holy-sepulchre/#close

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      4. but there have been many archaeological finds confirming various things and practices described in the Scripture

        Are you trying to suggest that I am unaware or have denied this?

        Thanks for the link.
        You are aware of course that this constitutes no evidence to suggest the biblical character Jesus of Nazareth was actually buried anywhere.
        Similar claims have been made for the Talpiot tomb, whee similar loaded and leadiung questions are asked: ”Is ths Jesus tomb?”
        Well, obviously not as anyone who is anyone in the world of archaeology knows that Jesus went to India and died there.
        It’s called the Rozabal shrine.,
        Being so clued up on evidence and wotnot , I am absolutely stunned you were unaware of this fact.

        It was once said that if all the splinters claimed to be from the alleged cross Jesus was crucified upon were collected one could probably build Noah’s ark.

        As this article is from nearly 5 years ago I was wondering if the Indiana Jones Christian Archaeological Society have published a final report yet?
        That way we can put it alongside the archaeological report of the house Jesus grew up in, just down the road from Mary’s Well, in the village of Nazareth where he lived.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. The Indiana Jones Christian Archaeological Society..LOL

    Rats, Ark, here I was going to pull out all my dusty archaeological tomes and get into a rousing debate over the historicity of the Exodus. I’m just defeated..

    We’ll have to save that for next time. 🙂

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    1. Ark, all teasing aside, you know these are folks working with and associated with National Geographic and some respected institutions.

      I understand that you might not agree with all of their thinking and opinion, but neither should we dismiss and relegate them to something like “The Flat Earth Society.” That’s my thinking anyway. Hey, you asked for some evidence pointing to the tomb of Jesus outside the Scripture and I shared it. Just sayin 🙂

      Do I think it’s totally conclusive and irrefutable? No, nothing can be, Ark. As I’ve shared, you and I weren’t personally there, and if we were would we have even believed our own eyes or the evidence of other eyewitnesses presented directly in front of us???

      This is all runs deeper than an objective review of evidence.

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      1. Ark, all teasing aside, you know these are folks working with and associated with National Geographic and some respected institutions.

        So? I’m sure there is a point you are trying to lead me to here, but could you simply jump straight to it? Save a lot of typing. Thanks.

        Just an aside, I see that you being so scrupulous with your fact checking before you dish out links willy-nilly and savvy with all the rock solid evidence you share you no doubt are fully up to speed on this tomb and all the individuals digging here, yes?

        Hey, you asked for some evidence pointing to the tomb of Jesus outside the Scripture and I shared it. Just sayin

        And what evidence is this exactly? Seriously, if this is evidence what is the evidence for the Talipot Tomb and the Razabal Shrine in India?

        You will have to be a teensy weensy bit more detailed otherwise this is simply more fertilizer to add to the garden.

        I await your reply with baited breath….

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