What Churches Are Made Of

(via nakedpastor)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • kev_s

    Surely just need a big BS in there.

  • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

    I guess it depends on the type of church, but this seems like an apt description of much of the fundamentalist and evangelical world. I don’t imagine most believers would see it that way, though.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Was I the only one whose immediate inclination was to grab some crayons and start colouring? >.>

  • allein

    Mine wasn’t…but now I want to. :)

  • roberthughmclean

    Wot about the wine & crackers?

  • Phil

    Why did I have to look at that several times before I saw the word “FEAR” in it? I must be getting dense…..

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    that’s an interesting discussion, Anna. why do you believe that?

    i know i’m making poor generalizations here, but what else is there? really, what motivates belief *other* than fear? fear of death, fear of being alone, fear of not conforming to cultural and traditional standards, fear of women, fear of the unknown, fear of other races and ethnicities, fear of the patriarch, fear of being poor, fear of being sterile, fear of being impotent on the battlefield, fear of homosexuality…

    i’m just riffing off some myths that come to mind immediately. but so many religious myths are about fear. “your god wants you to destroy anything you don’t understand and therefore fear” is pretty much the uber-narrative of so many of them i’ve lost count.

    i love the word “grift.” it totally encapsulates the concept and practice of religion. are you afraid of something? here, pay me money, and i’ll make you feel better. for a little while. but then you’ll have to come back and pay me more, because /divinity/ will be angry if you don’t, and send you back to the place that makes you afraid. really, is there more to religion than that?

  • WoodyTanaka

    Better watch out, some atheists might find this picture too divisive and harsh. Rather, they favor a picture that says, “religious, please, please, please treat me like a human being.”

  • Blacksheep

    “Fear” is an interesting word because it can be applied to many life situations. It was probably a major factor in determining which genetic lines have made it this far: “I’m not afraid of that saber tooth tiger!”

    I think I could make the same argument for health that is being made against religion:

    “You go to the gym, eat right, and have regular check ups because of FEAR. Fear of not conforming to an acceptable body type, fear of depression from being too sedentary, fear of illness, fear of death.”


    I stay healthy because I’ve discovered that I feel great, live a better life, and am happier when I do so. My body simply functions better when I go to the gym.”

    Does fear motivate wearing a seatbelt? Putting money in the bank? Wearing a helmet on a bike ride? Banning assault weapons?

    Fear is often just responding to reality!

  • amycas

    Fear in all the cases you listed, really is just responding to reality. The question is: to what reality is religious fear responding? If we have no evidence that the things religions scare us about are a part of reality, then why fear them?

  • Blacksheep

    My main point was that using “fear” as an indicator of whether or not something is good or valid is inaccurate, since fear is a healthy driver in almost every facet of life.

    Religion is responding to the realities of life, as my analogy above said:

    “I stay healthy because I’ve discovered that I feel great, live a better life, and am happier when I do so. My body simply functions better when I go to the gym.”

    To a Christian, all of that counts as evidence. It’s a strong part of Christian culture, the idea that how we feel, act, live, love are evidence of real things and real forces happening within us.

    We also consider the accounts of the apostles as evidence.

    And we also consider historical and archeological findings that align with scripture as evidence.

    We also encounter things like loss, pain, sickness, death, etc. that are very much a part of reality. Christianity offers answers to those things that have held up over time. So in that way, it deals directly with reality.

  • Blacksheep

    Although we disagree on the answer, a big BS for an atheist would make far more sense than the word FEAR.

  • God logic

    This is as much about Faith vs. fact, as it is Good vs. Evil. The Tree of Knowledge incident plays out in our daily lives. As I read most of the comments on this website, I can’t help but think back on how Adam and Eve were duped. Satan’s job is to do ANYTHING it takes to bump you away from God. Evil doesn’t portray itself as fire-breathing 6 headed beast any more than God reveals Himself as the White lighted Grandfathery figure. Satan is Bernie Madoff times a million. One of the stronger examples of how Satan works is the dispute about how God created everything in six days, but there is scientist proof it took millions of years. As a God who lives in a timeless world, millions of years can seem like a day. I don’t think man of that time could contemplate just how big millions of years are. But clever satan uses the day reference to put doubt in man’s minds. Funny how no one ever mentions the order in which god created Earth is the same as what scientists believe it happened: Planets, stars, atmosphere, water, land, fish, animals, man. That’s a pretty amazing hypothesis for a species fresh out of throwing its own feces! But wait, don’t look at that! Focus in on the seven days! Nothing to see there!

  • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

    At the risk of butchering Ecclesiastes (what am I saying, I don’t give a fuck about that), there is a time for conciliatory speech and a time for confrontational speech. (You could probably say time or place interchangeably, or simultaneously.)

  • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

    To a Christian, all of that counts as evidence. It’s a strong part of Christian culture, the idea that how we feel, act, live, love are evidence of real things and real forces happening within us.

    Which is problematic on multiple levels. For one, it promotes the idea that Christians need to be happy and joyful in order to be authentic, and that’s simply not how people work, to say nothing of how it contributes to incredibly harmful attitudes toward mental illness. (As someone who has plenty of Christian family members with mental illness, I can attest to these attitudes directly.) It also is not actual evidence, but even under the presumption that it is, it will just make people who do struggle with feeling dysfunctional feel less confident about their own faith. This doesn’t particularly bother me, but it should bother Christians.

  • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

    The order of creation is emphatically not accurate, not even in broad terms. (See here for just one example of inaccuracy in just one of the Genesis accounts.)

    Also, if you blame errors in the Bible on Satan, how can anything be trusted?

  • Blacksheep

    I agree, TCC. That’s why I was careful to point out some of the things that COUNT (sorry, i don’t know how to do italics) as evidence, not “This is our evidence!”

    It’s more subtle than that. I never said that being happy and joyful were the only ways to be an authentic Christian, however Christians that I know who suffer from mental illness would agree that their faith makes them function better.

  • Troglodyke

    While I agree with your argument, I think what she meant was that the believers don’t see themselves as fearful, for the most part. To admit that religion is all based in fear is to admit that one is powerless, and weak, and silly, and timid, and all the other synonyms for fearful. In their minds, it’s not about fear. It’s about love. This is the trope they’ve been fed.

  • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

    What motivates belief other than fear? Cultural inertia, I would guess. People were taught these things as young children, and they accept them uncritically. They don’t question the existence of the supernatural. Belief feels safe and comfortable. They like the ritual and tradition, and they’ve been told that going to church and believing in a god makes them good people, with better morals and values. That’s why they believe it and perpetuate it.

    Mind you, I’m only talking about the “nice” believers, the mild and moderate ones. Not the zealots or the hardcore fundamentalists. I’m mostly thinking of the people who go to church because it feels like a nice thing to do. Like the members of my family who seem to “believe in belief.” They don’t focus most of their lives on religion, and I don’t think they would ever think of the word “fear” in relation to their church.

  • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

    I would agree. I don’t think most believers are socialized to think of their churches as scary, fear-filled places. Even the ones that are!

  • God logic

    Try NIV. Also, never said Bible had errors, just there like laws to be picked apart like attorneys do our judicial system. It’s all in the manipulation.

  • God logic

    Is stereotyping Christians part of being a Humanist? Kind of hard to point the finger when you’re just as guilty. Anyway, “fear” is the last word I would use to describe my Church. I’ve been a part of, and have seen first-hand the bravery, strength and love required to feed/clothe the poor, to build houses for them here and abroad, to establish Christianity in anti-Christian nations, to work with people on their addictions, to visit prison (BTW, when are you all going to get those Bibles removed from prison? Isn’t that part of church and state?). Fear? How about fear of Faith? Fear of being wrong? Fear of committing to that which cannot be proven? Christians are anything but fearful. It takes a bravery to believe the fruits of your good deeds on Earth can only be attained through death. Fear? It’s all yours!