A guest post from comedian and actor, Jay Mohr, talking directly to atheists, after his appearance on Dogma Debate.
You may recognize him from one of his many movies, televised comedy specials, Saturday Night Live, his tenure as a sports talk radio host, or as the original host of Last Comic Standing on NBC.
But when I see Jay Mohr, I see the coolest, and most hilariously down-to-earth Christian I’ve ever been able to call “friend.”
I obviously disagree with some of his theological views, and various challenges, but that’s ok. Rather than me debating each issue line by line, I wanted to give him a voice to talk directly with you, and then watch you respectfully engage with these ideas in the comments section, because I want to know what you think.
Here’s what Jay has to say to you:
I am Christian. And I know you’re an atheist. You’ve told me. Written me.
I’ve heard you telling someone else. It’s in your twitter handle. The name of your weekly meeting. Your poker night. Your podcast has the word atheist in it.
Stitched across the front of your softball jersey is something secular like Faithless or Godless. Your fantasy football team has a name like “Hail Marty.”
I told my friend David Smalley, host of Dogma Debate, that I wanted to send you all a message. So he asked if I’d write a blog to be read by his audience.
David’s podcast is a very important one. He’s a seeker and worthy of an enormous audience. An audience like you
I have learned while listening to Dogma Debate, you are the 4th listener, the backbone, the desired set of ears for something as important as the deep and sometimes heated discussions David delivers.
So when David asked me to pen my thoughts to be published here, my response was “Absolutely. Yes, I will.”
And I’m very happy you’re still reading this and haven’t jettisoned me into space where my “Sky Daddy” lives along side my magical unicorn.
When I look at the list of guests that have appeared on Dogma Debate, I’m surprised that in it’s entirety, the list is binary. People from all walks of life, different cities, ages, sexes, listeners themselves and academics, all broken down into two categories.
Atheist or Religious.
However, it reads more like: Right or Wrong.
I can tell by reading who the guest is (Right or Wrong) what type of hour I’ll be listening to.
Arguing or agreeing. Debunking or Validating. Crazy guy or guy who gets it.
For me, one of the largest problems—if not THE largest—problem with religion is what I noticed about that guest list.
There’s a lot to unpack here so bear with me.
When I listen to atheists and Christians argue, I’m struck by how little either side actually listen to each other.
Both voices get louder and louder as the talk continues. Simple questions are answered with “Let me answer your question with a question” (GRRRRR).
A small item in a long paragraph will be parsed and dissected ad nauseam eventually leaving both parties feeling confused as to how they got that far into the weeds.
The listeners are never confused.
One guy is right no matter what he says. The other guy is wrong no matter what he says.
Regardless of the veracity of a point, or the historical significance of another, no one really seems to budge from their belief. Obviously I’m speaking in superlatives to make my point but the point itself remains unanswered.
Why always an argument?
Both the Christian and the atheist come charging out of the gates like a joust. An intergalactic grudge match.
HUGE flags enter the arena long before the individual.
Long, long lances follow the flags in and on them read JESUS SAVES or THERE IS NO GOD.
Finally, the people jousting enter behind much fanfare and try as best they can to knock each other off their horse, away from their flag and onto their ass.
BINARY. It’s not working.
Being asked to prove the unprovable, the Christian will always wind up on his ass.
The atheist will always be the victor in these duels.
If you’re an atheist you may be thinking, “Then it IS working, the Christian just got knocked down.”
Correct, the Christian is bloodied, torn, and made to look like a fool.
My question to atheists is a simple one: What did you win?
Rarely does the religious person walk away from the debate with a changed mind and throw their faith into the nearest trash can.
Even if they did, what was your victory? One less believer?
I’m not being snarky here, I am genuinely in wonder.
As I said, there is a lot to unpack here so let me switch suitcases and tell you my personal view on religion.
Before you can send me memes of the Salem Witch Trials or The Inquisitions, I, like you, know that religion has been the single largest reason for murder and mayhem on our planet.
I also know that religion isn’t FAITH. Religion isn’t BELIEF. The Bible wasn’t written by God.
No one began writing what is known as the Bible for over 65 years after the events in the book had taken place.
That would be like writing the end all be all book about the civil war this afternoon.
My Faith, my belief in God, and the impossibility of the world around me has NOTHING to do with the Bible or religion. Sometimes I carry my Faith in spite of the Bible.
I have been called a cafeteria Catholic by others and I have taken it as a compliment.
I DO pick and choose what to believe. For me, that’s what the book is for.
I reject the notion that Jonah lived in the asshole of a whale for a few days.
I do not believe in Adam and Eve, nor the Garden of Eden. If I did, I would be also believing that two people populated Earth with infants who likely suffered from genetic disorders due to incest.
I am a Christian because I love the TEACHINGS of Jesus Christ. I am a Buddhist because I love the TEACHINGS of The Buddha. I am a Seeker, because I have an insatiable need for more knowledge and information from people who do not think like I do. Do you?
The first job of a teacher is to speak the language of the student. The only job of the student really, is to LISTEN.
So I listen. And by being still, and opening my mind and heart, I’ve learned more about atheism in four conversations with David Smalley and Penn Gillette then I have in my lifetime of asking as I go.
People who are ardent and passionate in their religion, probably wound up there because they needed some help with themselves.
They needed realignment. Perhaps they were lost, weren’t well and desperately searched for a place that could provide them with BINARY instructions.
Religion is perfect for the wayward because there is a set of rules and beliefs to live by already in place.
The person that needed realignment suddenly has millions of like minded fellows and finally some meaning to their lives.
Unfortunately, part of that meaning is the dreaded “SHARING” of their religion.
James Thurber said, “Beautiful things don’t ask for attention.” If your love of Christ is so enormous and powerful that it saved your life, you should have no impulse to knock on a stranger’s door to explain it all to them.
That’s not sharing, it’s recruiting. Recruiting is in the long view, collecting money.
Only twice in the Bible does Jesus lose his shit, and both times it is while he is in a temple, over money.
The fact that Christ was LIVID at the sight of money changers is lost on almost all Christians. Particularly the wealthy ones.
My doorbell has rung a few times and the dreaded “Have you heard the great Word?!” Bozos have been standing there.
I say, “I have and no thank you.”
What I don’t try and do is explain to them, step by step, beat for beat, and verse to verse, why they’re wrong and I’m right.
“Beautiful things don’t ask for attention.” My Faith is beautiful to me. They can fuck off and away from my property and keep moving.
Atheists, kindly, don’t go door to door to explain why Christians are wrong and for this, I thank you.
But the question that still remains for me, is what is the victory of reversing someone’s belief system that works for them, provides them with structure and purpose, keeps them out of jail, or makes them compelled to be of service?
If I were to take this entire article and boil it down to a cellular level sentence, it would read as follows…
You lack belief in a God, I believe in a God. I don’t understand why we’re arguing.
Although the burden is on the believer to prove an unknown, the fact is that neither side knows for sure. As an Atheist, you have as little proof of no God as I do that there is one
Some Christians have proven to not be very smart. They continually show up on podcasts and television shows and speak at cocktail parties to go on and on and on about how Christ died for your sins.
Christ, according to the Bible, forgive me for being logical by using an actual reference book… Christ died because he was convicted of Heresy.
Christians keep sitting behind the mic of Dogma Debate to passionately explain why homosexuality is a sin.
I’ll leap frog over the heresy and love being a sin and jump instead to the same, boring bible versus they trot out to prove their point.
Conveniently, they never are this passionate about Lot having sex with both his of daughters and populating an entire city with children of incest (Genesis).
Repeatedly, the atheist kicks the teeth out of the Christian in these discussions. The only way for a Christian to ever win a Dogma Debate, is to simply not show up.
Like in the movie WAR GAMES, the nuclear war simulating computer’s final message is “THE ONLY WAY TO WIN IS TO NOT PLAY.”
If Christians weren’t always trying to explain to you how you were going to hell, or how you’re living your life incorrectly, or trying to write legislation controlling your behavior, I don’t know if we would see as powerful a secular movement and lobby as we do today.
My friends, we are far more interesting than our beliefs or non beliefs. Praying to a God doesn’t make a single man, woman or child interesting. It doesn’t increase their importance or social currency.
I don’t think more highly of someone because they’re religious. I would hope you don’t think less of me because I am. Because that would make you eerily similar to the Christians you’ve spent years beating back with a stick.
I have faith in God. You have faith in your friends, spouse, and making decisions that are difficult, but just and right.
Frankly, I don’t care what religion someone is. AT. ALL.
I have no interest in your God. I don’t care if you do not have one. If you don’t believe in God, I can assure you, it’s the least interesting thing about you. I know this because we’re in the same tribe.
You’re a seeker. You’re curious and dubious. Cautious and fearless. You thirst. More data. More love. More excitement. More more. more. (You’re still reading aren’t you?)
There’s an evangelist that foams at the mouth and tells me through my TV I’m going to hell for being a sinner. This asshole doesn’t even know me and he’s in Vegas betting the under on my salvation. Fuck that guy and his expensive suit and his wife that carries his water and chops wood for the joint checking account.
Without a television show or perhaps the expensive suit, the atheists I have encountered are equally as intrusive and foaming at the mouth to deliver the message of my short comings and faulty life.
I’m so grateful to people like David who have the ability to simply listen. To hear my truth and go on with his life with the FAITH that the world will be fine with me and my love of Christ in it.
You may not believe in a God but you know more scripture than anyone I’ve ever known.
You may not think the world was created divinely but you walk throughout it happy, and I love you for that.
Whoever you are, having read this piece I’ve written, I thank you for being patient and accepting of me.
I will pray for your well being and your happiness.
Only because when I am alone, in private and calm, that’s just what I do. And that should never bother you.
Peace … Love… Kindness… acceptance… good fortune…
I truly wish these things for you.