You know what really grinds my gears…

by waxnwings

I Believe In Satan.

I have a hard time discerning exactly why the staunch disavowal of the concept of a “God” still continues to pervade popular blog topics, social networking comments, comedy sketches and (more often than not) perturbed conversations in general, when the very explicit propagation of one’s disbelief becomes ultimately paradoxical as one considers how such actions do more to re-affirm the substance of its denigrated subject than to ‘dis-prove’ it. This, however, is to generously assume that such often menial statements are formulated on the basis of an informed agenda with the intention of opening any relative or productive discourse whatsoever.

To begin with: exactly what do you mean by “God”?
If you find this initial proposition of contemplation immediately absurd, irrelevant, or both, then I wish to inform you – using the parable with much deliberate provocation – that you have built your house on sand. Most immediately, before even considering exactly what useful content the comment or argument has to offer, if you cannot define the subject of your argument then you actually have no worthwhile argument whatsoever. Your comments are weightless, devoid of profundity and – more than is likely – outright ignorant. How to avoid such embarrassing pitfalls?:

  1. Decide whether you are referring to a specific God(s) and determine exactly what the function within their given religious doctrine entails (I would recommend although make sure you don’t make the horrible boo-boo of mistaking Buddah for a God – that would just make you look silly). This will provide you a tangible basis on which to repudiate their shortcomings – much like actually reading the agendas of a popular politician.
  2. Take one step further and determine exactly what culture and heritage your argument is referring to. This may seem irrelevant as God ‘crosses all boundaries’ (Preaching the Gospel of Matthew: Proclaiming God’s Presence p. 61), however I would like to think an Anglo-Saxon Christian and a colonised African Christian should surely be permitted their differences. By considering such basic distinctions you will safeguard yourself from the label of ‘narrow-mindedness’ as regards to the form and function of religious experience and its subjectivity to social, cultural, historical and political variables.
  3. And this is ‘the Big One’: actually decide what your issue is with this God and articulate it coherently. Unfortunately, “where is your God now” captioned under a picture of starving black children doesn’t really constitute an argument worthwhile of neural excitement. Whilst by all means it is perfectly in your right to do so, it really does nothing to represent you as a person capable of interpreting your social experience, making an effort to view your own position as contingent as part of the first step toward developing philosophical wisdom.
  4. To be honest, this isn’t really a ‘number four’, it’s just a little trick you can utilise if you can’t be bothered to perform the previous three but would still like to benefit from a few in-passing ‘likes’ from those who thought your comment more witty than thought provoking or argument interesting only to the extent that it did not trouble them to actually question and justify what Atheism means to them, before proudly branding themselves with the label: **whispers behind palm** “If you just say ‘God’, people will immediately think of the white Christian God with a big beard who I’m pretty sure promised world peace but still gave us war and famine and Muslims. Also all the Americans love him, but they also love guns. Put that in your ironical pipe and smoke it.” Solid.

Okay so, all three checkpoints taken into consideration, you are now ready to develop your argument, which I would assume (giving credit that you are not simply spending your time trying to disprove a biblical “fairy-tale”) is somewhat concerned with the hypocritical nature of a particular religion itself in conjunction with the often dogmatic nature of religious doctrine. Perhaps you wish to highlight the problematic of the clash between some of the more liberal beliefs, morals and ethics of today’s western societies versus said doctrine, rather than attack a religious pin-up which (paradoxically) from the outset you claim not to believe in anyway. Perhaps you have a gripe with the political influence that religion plays in today’s society, how it speaks on dollar bills and is used in support of a country’s immigration policy which defends itself with proclamations of being a ‘Christian country’. Or perhaps you simply find catharsis in the performance of a superiority complex and love to judge other people as ‘stupid’ in their beliefs, without actually reflexively considering that if a third of the world’s population are classed as living under a Christian ideology, exactly what ideologies do the other sixty-six percent (of which you have chosen to include yourself) function under, perform, refract and re-enforce?

I have no problem with people voicing their opinion in regards to religion or any other topic however radical, however it really does grind my gears when an argument or comment is presented which, rather than evoking worthwhile key-points of meditation, chooses instead to ride the popular a-theistic/a-political/a-consumerist/a-globalist/a-materialist/a-conformist – ‘anti’-anything – band-wagon on whose cargo is a bunch of incoherent slogans, buzz-words and ultimately a cesspool of human inaction. It seems today that many people have taken Marx’s words from Thesis 11 too close to heart, that “the philosophers have only interpreted the world, the point is to change it”. However, as the popular Slovenian theorist Zizek has suggested, perhaps our pitfall is that too many are simply acting and responding to and with action without actually thinking – we protest without developing a concise political response, we give £2 month in the belief in action for action sake, we openly denigrate the ideologies of others without considering exactly what ideologies we ourselves are ascribed to and from which our ideas, comments and actions are impregnated. Perhaps it is once again time to take a step back and reconsider out interpretations, indulge in a little reflexive critical thinking and consider whether finding gripe with a God in which we proclaim not to even believe in – the only intention of which is often purely to denigrate – is really worth our precious time.