Fence Theism – Kick The Habit!

It so happened that the events of Saturday evening led to me sitting in front of a church with a good buddy of mine, sippin’ Coronitas, once everyone had left for home. I’d rather not elaborate on how we actually got there, but anyway.

Drinking beer in front of this institution very quickly drew to conversation to a point where the question: “Now, honestly, do you believe in God?” was asked.

This buddy of mine is a German Protestant of the moderate kind. He’s got a high IQ and he’s very liberal and has an open mindset, which is why I was puzzled at his reaction:

“Yes, of course.”

Later on, he elaborated, explaining how he thought that people were mistaken in taking the Bible literally and how he believed in a Supreme Being.

The dangers of this type of theism are almost self-evident. There is a sympathy towards a religious institution even if the fence theist never adheres to the strict principles of the dogma.

A God fearing person will have to live with the looming threat that their life is beyond their control, that the only purpose to their existence is to die and end up somewhere else.

Besides, a belief in an Abrahamic God is rather sadistic, to say the least, considering what a bastard the Old Testament God actually was. To invoke the example of Abraham himself: God almost led Abraham to kill his own child, stopping only when on the climax of the bar bet with the other deities, God realised that “that fool was actually going to do it”.

In any case, a belief in God doesn’t complete a person in any way – it empties one. My buddy took the example of someone insecure who finds strength in God. In a striking contradiction, he talked about being God-fearing. If someone insecure finds comfort in belief in God, it is merely like a scaffold which props his insecurities up against the walls of a fear of something beyond his control.

 God almost led Abraham to kill his own child, stopping only when on the climax of the bar bet with the other deities, God realised that “that fool was actually going to do it”.

Religious people love to talk about the ’emptiness’ of atheism and the lack of purpose of not having a goal to get into in the afterlife. Quite frankly, this is self-contradicting. A God fearing person will have to live with the looming threat that their life is beyond their control, that the only purpose to their existence is to die and end up somewhere else. Recently, the Catholic Church has dismissed Limbo, but from the sound of religious doctrine, life itself is a sort of limbo between pre-birth and afterlife! Talk about getting depressive…

What more purpose do you need than to know that you can seize events and take control? That you have one life to give and you should use it to the max? A religious person will live forever in the shadow of regret and doubt. An atheist is liberated and full.

This buddy of mine mentioned that God fills up a sort of moral gap in people. I argue, on the other hand, that God is a thorn in your soul that shouldn’t be there in the first place. Can you picture the physical relief when you pull out a thorn in the palm of your hand? Imagine that feeling when you realise that the whole idea of God is not even quaintly cute, but critically dangerous.

Fence theists like my buddy lie on the verge of accepting reality. I trust that he needs to only read Dawkins’ argument in The God Delusion to be convinced. Fence theist’s elevated IQs can certainly accommodate a new train of thought. It just takes a little shove, a little encouragement to go over the edge and life life to the fullest, without the fear of being struck down beyond your own choices and decisions.

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4 Responses

  1. I find your version of Abraham’s test rather interesting. It, of course, is silly to say that God was proving to other deities that Abraham would actually kill his son. The whole monotheistic thing gets rid of that. The God of the Old Testament is obviously a reflection of what was important to the hebrews at the time of it’s writing. War was a big part of ancient life in case you didn’t know, and the constant fighting with an all-powerful God is understandable for such an old writing. The book of Job is probably a better example for what you want to say with old Abe. God curses Job, an upstanding believer, to prove to the devil himself that Job is a steadfast believer. The entire book goes on to say how great and powerful God is and in the end, suprisingly, Job stays with God and is rewarded. Of course these stories are all building blocks to what Christians use to combat atheists; they have the idea that if they are steadfast in their faith they will be rewarded by God in this life or in the next.

    You didn’t actually seem to go very in depth with your explanation of how a belief in God can hurt one’s life. I agree that it may stop one from living their life to the fullest, but does that mean that you are saying that your friend cannot be happy because he likes the comfort that he is going somewhere after he dies? If they are happy living with this idea then what waste is there if they don’t take themselves seriously? A lot of these “fence theists” probably don’t go into the same amount of depth that you have. This is probably why they are still fence theists. They need to think more about what they actually say they believe, which will usually end up with them realizing that they not only do not need Religion in their lives, but that it can actually prevent them from enjoying their lives. A lot of people will say that they believe in a God, but do just as they please. These people are hypocrites of some of the worst kind because they insult those who actually practice and those who don’t believe at all.

    I completely agree with what you are saying now, having given up on Christianity a month or so ago. I agree that these “fence theists” need to think more about what they actually say they believe, which will usually end up with them realizing that they not only do not need Religion in their lives, but that it can actually prevent them from enjoying their lives. Some people try to ignore this fact but in the end one has to take themselves seriously and give up on this.

  2. Hey, sorry for the delay posting your comment, this bloody thing knee-jerk catches comments for no reason apparently.

    Perhaps you’re right I didn’t go into too much depth into how belief in God can hurt you – I suppose my mind filled in the gaps knowing my friend, I didn’t count on that the rest of the world doesn’t know him 😛

    He’s going through a strange existentialist phase, and he’s always saying he’s kind of unfulfilled. He gets the grades, he could get any woman he wanted to but he says he doesn’t see the point.

    I was arguing that his underlying belief in God was causing this. Theists aren’t going to be happy knowing they’re going somewhere else after they die – precisely the opposite. The fear of perhaps not going to the right place when you die is, honestly, mortifying. I, for one, shy away from the idea of being tortured for eternity. Even Catholics who have a very efficient ‘sin-cleansing’ system are constantly selling diatribes on guilt and sin.

    I have to say I completely agree with you, it’s quite elucidating.

  3. Ah yes, and that the Old Testament God is a manifestation of the Ancient World’s rites and customs is a brilliant example of how outphased it is.

    Ancient Greece, for lack of a better analogy, provided us with the base for Western democracy, but were we to take it strictly and literally then women and slaves wouldn’t be able to vote, among countless other barbarities by modern day standards.

    I guess that as long as their is a hierarchy of power and money in religion, it won’t go away any time soon.

  4. Ah (again) and about Abe, clearly my version doesn’t stick in a monotheistic universe (God must get kind of lonely), but I was just trying to reflect how, well, immature it was, for lack of a better word.

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