I Give Up!

I Give Up! July 25, 2019

Editor’s NoteI can see that it would get tiring explaining one’s point of view to people who think you’re just plain wrong – not to mention that you will burn for eternity for your beliefs! Luckily, most of us don’t have to put up with that, but we owe a lot to those who do. So thanks to this Clergy Project member. Even if he is really giving up (which I doubt) he  deserves a lot of credit for his work so far. /Linda LaScola

=====================

By Bruce Gerencser

Do you find yourself explaining the same things over and over to people who cannot or will not comprehend or understand your point of view/opinion/worldview? I know I do. Every day, my writing is read by thousands of people, and no matter how often I explain myself, some people — looking at you Evangelicals, Independent Fundamentalist Baptists, Fundamentalist Catholics, Right-wing Christians, Diehard Republicans — have heads filled with cement, leaving them unable to entertain any point of view/opinion/worldview but their own.

The more certain people are of their rightness, the harder it is to reach them. Christian Fundamentalists, in particular, are absolutely certain that their peculiar beliefs came straight from God, and their practices are exactly how Jesus and the first-century church practiced New Testament Christianity. Some people are so obtuse that it is nigh impossible to meaningfully engage them intellectually. Talking to them is like beating your head up against a brick wall. You are bloodied and in pain, but you’ve not made a dent in their ignorance. And so today, I officially give up.

I give up trying to explain that I didn’t become an atheist because I was hurt by the church.

I give up trying to explain that I am not bitter over my past.

I give up trying to explain that I am not angry at the Christian God.

I give up trying to explain that I don’t hate the Christian God.

I give up trying to explain that I didn’t leave Christianity because I secretly desire to “sin.”

I give up trying to explain that I am not a worshiper of Satan.

I give up trying to explain I really was a committed follower of Jesus who believed the Bible from cover to cover.

I give up trying to explain that I really did wholeheartedly devote the first fifty years of my life to Jesus.

I give up trying to explain that I devoted most of my adult life to preaching the gospel and evangelizing sinners.

I give up trying to explain that atheism is not a religion.

I give up trying to explain that people can be moral and ethical without God.

I give up trying to explain that all morality is subjective.

I give up trying to explain that Evangelicalism is inherently Fundamentalist.

I give up trying to explain that atheists don’t want to make Christianity illegal.

I give up trying to explain why I blog.

I give up trying to explain why I publish the Black Collar Crime series.

I give up trying to explain to creationists that the universe is not 6,024 years old.

I give up trying to explain to creationists that Adam and Eve were not the first humans.

I give up trying to explain to creationists that the world was never destroyed by a flood.

I give up trying to explain to literalists that they are not as literal as they think they are.

I give up trying to explain that the Bible is not an inerrant, infallible book written by the Christian God.

I give up trying to explain that Moses did not lead millions of Israelites from Egypt to Canaan.

I give up trying to explain that abortion is not murder.

I give up trying to explain that democratic socialism is not the same as Venezuelan socialism.

I give up trying to explain that communism and socialism are not the same.

I give up trying to explain that democratic socialists are not anti-capitalists.

I give up trying to explain the moral bankruptcy of Donald Trump.

I give up trying to explain that Donald Trump is a racist.

I give up trying to explain that Donald Trump is a sexual predator.

I give up trying to explain that I am not overweight because I eat too much or eat the “wrong” foods.

I give up trying to explain that my pain and debility are caused by actual diseases and medical disorders.

I give up trying to explain why I am depressed.

I give up trying to explain why auto racing on dirt is better than auto racing in asphalt.

I give up trying to explain why I don’t recycle.

And finally, I am too tired to continue with this list, so I give up …

Tomorrow, Loki willing, is another day.

Who knows how long or short my “I Give Up” list might be. What would you like to add to this list? Please share your “I give ups” in the comment section.

***Editor’s Note***  Please also share the things you haven’t given up on!

=================

Bruce Gerencser lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have 6 grown children and 12 grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for 25 years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. He left the ministry in 2005 and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. He is also one of the original members of The Clergy Project, which began in 2011. He blogs at The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser,  where the above post originally appears.  It is reposted with permission.

>>>>>>>>>>>>Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=679795 ; “Creation of the Sun and Moon face detail” by Michelangelo – Unknown. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Creation_of_the_Sun_and_Moon_face_detail.jpg#/media/

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  • ephemerol

    Aftеr hаvіng bееn bоrn аnd rаіѕеd іn сhrіѕtіаnіty аnd thеn lеаvіng іt bесаuѕе I rеаlіzеd іt hаѕ еѕѕеntіаlly nо pоѕѕіbіlіty оf bеіng truе, I gоt hіt wіth thеѕе tоо. I’d hеаrd thеm аll bеfоrе, ѕо I knеw еxасtly whаt tо еxpесt.

    Churсh lеаdеrѕ mоrе thаn аnyоnе еlѕе сlаіm thаt pеоplе fееl lіkе thеy hаvе tо lеаvе fіrѕt, bеfоrе thеy саn gо оut аnd соmmіt аll thеѕе “ѕіnѕ.” Thеy сlаіm thаt thеy hаvе tо соnvіnсе thеmѕеlvеѕ thеy dоn’t bеlіеvе, ѕо thаt wаy thеy dоn’t fееl ѕо guіlty.

    But thаt’ѕ nоt truе.

    All my lіfе I’d wаtсhеd сhurсh lеаdеrѕ, аmоng оthеrѕ, соmmіt аll thеѕе “ѕіnѕ” wіthоut fееlіng thе nееd tо gо аnywhеrе аt аll. Thеy hаd nо nееd tо prоfеѕѕ dіѕbеlіеf tо hеlp thеm соpе wіth whаtеvеr guіlty fееlіngѕ thеy mіght hаvе hаd. Chrіѕtіаnѕ саn ѕtаy rіght whеrе thеy аrе аnd thump thе bіblе juѕt аѕ lоud аѕ thеy plеаѕе whіlе соmmіttіng аll thе ѕаmе “ѕіnѕ” thеy ассuѕе uѕ оf. If thаt’ѕ whаt іt’ѕ rеаlly аll аbоut, thеіr оwn еxаmplе ѕhоwѕ hоw uttеrly unnесеѕѕаry іt іѕ tо hаvе tо lеаvе fіrѕt.

  • mason

    Ah bro Bruce. I see you have momentarily forgotten, 1. just how “certain of your rightness” you (we) once were. 2. That your head was chocked full of Evangelical cement. 3. Information kept chipping away at the cement until it finally began crumbling and falling out of your ears. 4. You switched teams and and became an All-Star on the RHT (Rational Human Team) and TCP (The Clergy Project) 5. That cement is loosening in the heads of millions of Evangelicals right now.

    So enjoy your one 24 hour sabbatical.

  • Brian Curtis

    Faith is a deliberate choice to reject new information to preserve a belief, and to regularly practice that rejection on a daily basis. It shouldn’t surprise us that the more devout someone is, the more incapable of listening they become. It’s exactly what they’ve trained for.

  • mason
  • carolyntclark

    you can give up trying to convince people that spiritual euphoria, filled with grace, experience they feel at worship service is not the work of the Holy Spirit,
    but rather the emotional response of brain chemistry to the group dynamic, rousing music and church theatrics.

  • Mark Rutledge

    I’ve saved a lot of energy by simply following the advice of my old grand-daddy. Mark, he said, never get into a spitting match with a skunk.

  • More than a few friends and readers wondered how long “I give up” would last.

  • mason

    A wise grand-daddy

  • mason

    yep, only the individuals themselves can entangle that kind of experience, if they have the will and intellectual and emotional fortitude

  • ElizabetB.

    Pelosi called it “a tinkle contest” (about her & Schumer’s confrontation with the president)
    : )

  • ElizabetB.

    Disqus does not want me to say that Pelosi called it a tinkl contest, describing the contentious meeting with the president : )

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    How about a ‘urination competition’??

    😉

  • ElizabetB.

    Disqus evidently fine with that… good humor! And makes you wonder how come technically correct terms don’t have same punch : )

  • Mark Rutledge

    This site blocked my first language so I had to substitute spitting.:-)

  • ElizabetB.

    “I give up!”
    We are a squeaky clean platform : )
    But interesting to know your granddad dint say spitting : )

  • Cozmo the Magician

    “Never give up! Never surrender!”

  • Faith is a deliberate choice to reject new information to preserve a belief …

    Poisoning the well, eh? I mean, I’m sure it’s true of some religious believers, but then some atheists are atheists for bad reasons so what else is new? My own view of faith is “extrapolating from the evidence toward better“. But I guess I cannot possibly be true, because all religious believers must be idjiots to the extent that they take their [utterly backward] religions seriously?

    It shouldn’t surprise us that the more devout someone is, the more incapable of listening they become.

    Were this a known fact, you could show one or both of the following:

         (1) When a scientist becomes an atheist,
                 [s]he does better science.
         (2) When a scientist becomes religious,
                 [s]he does worse science.

    But I doubt you can, because I’ve presented this challenge to atheist after atheist online and at best I’ve gotten a few examples which were correlation. Nothing close to a scientific study has ever been presented. I suspect this because there isn’t one. But hey, belief apart from evidence is a thing, right?

  • And the peer-reviewed evidence for how this is true of all [remotely orthodox] religion is … where? Or does “everyone just know” this?

  • All my lіfе I’d wаtсhеd сhurсh lеаdеrѕ, аmоng оthеrѕ, соmmіt аll thеѕе “ѕіnѕ” wіthоut fееlіng thе nееd tо gо аnywhеrе аt аll. Thеy hаd nо nееd tо prоfеѕѕ dіѕbеlіеf tо hеlp thеm соpе wіth whаtеvеr guіlty fееlіngѕ thеy mіght hаvе hаd. Chrіѕtіаnѕ саn ѕtаy rіght whеrе thеy аrе аnd thump thе bіblе juѕt аѕ lоud аѕ thеy plеаѕе whіlе соmmіttіng аll thе ѕаmе “ѕіnѕ” thеy ассuѕе uѕ оf. If thаt’ѕ whаt іt’ѕ rеаlly аll аbоut, thеіr оwn еxаmplе ѕhоwѕ hоw uttеrly unnесеѕѕаry іt іѕ tо hаvе tо lеаvе fіrѕt.

    So … basically the state of religion when Jesus arrived on the scene and when Paul wrote:

    You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” (Romans 2:23–24)

    Any tool which helps pierce façades of hypocrisy and self-righteousness can also be used to build better façades.

  • Brian Curtis

    The fact that atheism is much more prevalent among scientists than the general population–and to an even greater degree among the more recognized and award-winning scientists–has already proven that point.

    Your convenient redefinition of faith as something other than belief without evidence is a personal dodge that matches up to no dictionary. Nice try, but faith IS the rejection of reason in favor of emotion (i.e., belief), and you can’t escape that.

  • The fact that atheism is much more prevalent among scientists than the general population–and to an even greater degree among the more recognized and award-winning scientists–has already proven that point.

    Ah, so because the more elite a scientist, the more white [s]he is, and the more elite a scientist, the more likely [s]he is to be a he …

    LB: My own view of faith is “extrapolating from the evidence toward better“.

    BC: Your convenient redefinition of faith as something other than belief without evidence is a personal dodge that matches up to no dictionary.

    Oh really:

    OED: faith
    1 Complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
        ‘this restores one’s faith in politicians’
    2 Strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof.
        ‘bereaved people who have shown supreme faith’

    What I said is critical to trust. When you trust someone, you have the option of trusting that they’ll do well with more responsibility than you’ve seen them do well with to-date. That is precisely “extrapolating from the evidence toward better“. In contrast, definition 2 can be read as only trusting a person as far as you can throw him/her: anything beyond that would constitute “without proof”. A while ago I encountered a rather nasty definition of ‘faith’ and thus engaged in some amateur philology of the most compact definition of the term pistis in the NT, Hebrews 11. On of the foils I came across was the following:

    Man should have regard, not to ἀπεόντα [what is absent], but to ἐπιχώρια [custom]; he should grasp what is παρὰ ποδός [at his feet]. (Pind. Pyth., 3, 20; 22; 60; 10, 63; Isthm., 8, 13.) (TDNT: ἐλπίς, ἐλπίζω, ἀπ-, προελπίζω)

    That word ἐλπίζω shows up here:

    Now faith (πίστις) is the reality/​confidence/​assurance/​substance (ὑπόστασις) of things hoped for (ἐλπίζω), the conviction/​certainty/​evidence/​proof (ἔλεγχος) of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

    So the wisdom of the time of Jesus was that you shouldn’t depend on reality being any different from what “custom” dictated. You shouldn’t pay attention to lack, to things not being what you think they should be. No, what is is what is and you must deal with it. Don’t hope for anything better. Those who “extrapolate from the evidence toward better” are fools.

    The “idea of progress” itself is rooted in Christianity, in its eschatology of a future “better”. But Christianity, like everything else, goes through periods of being stuck. The Tanakh and NT describe this—see for example all the stuck in the letters to the seven churches in Revelation. Jewish scholar Yuval Levin nails it: “Ignorance brings learning, but knowledge breeds rigidity of mind.” (Tyranny of Reason, xviii) Or in Max Planck’s words, “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

    In the Tanakh, those who get stuck have ‘hardened hearts’, where the ancient Hebrew ‘heart’ can be understood as “seat of the understanding”. To have an ossified ‘heart’ is to think you pretty much understand reality. Of course you’d be wrong to think this and you’d have imprisoned yourself in an infinitesimal sliver of glorious reality, with bars which cannot be seen, touched, heard, tasted, or smelled. The NT was about a release from bondage, a release from the στοιχεῖον. But no, religion must be evil!

  • Brian Curtis

    Understanding reality is what science enables us to do. (I note that your OED citation doesn’t use your pet definition either–nice try!) Religion–the denial of reality in favor of belief–is a discarded and worthless tool; its only function is to hold us back from knowledge, not contribute to it.
    .
    Science has never claimed to understand everything perfectly; religion always has. And yet, science is the pursuit whose answers keep turning out to be correct. Religion can claim zero credit for the advances in human knowledge, because they’ve all been made in spite of religion–not because of it.

  • BC: It shouldn’t surprise us that the more devout someone is, the more incapable of listening they become.

    LB: Were this a known fact, you could show one or both of the following: [example evidence that wouldn’t fall prey to correlation ⇏ causation]

    BC: The fact that atheism is much more prevalent among scientists than the general population–and to an even greater degree among the more recognized and award-winning scientists–has already proven that point.

    LB: Ah, so because the more elite a scientist, the more white [s]he is, and the more elite a scientist, the more likely [s]he is to be a he …

    BC: [point ignored]

    At this point, either you have a perverse definition of “devout”, or you simply do not have the evidence required to support “the more devout someone is, the more incapable of listening they become”. Unless, that is, you really want to say that whites are better than non-whites at science, and men are better than women at science.

    (I note that your OED citation doesn’t use your pet definition either–nice try!)

    ‘faith’ ∼ ‘trust’ ∼ ‘extrapolation’

    Religion–the denial of reality in favor of belief– →

    Nice poisoning of the well. I’m sure some ‘religion’ is as you describe, but ‘some’ ⇒ ‘all’ reasoning is a hallmark of anti-science thinking.

    ← is a discarded and worthless tool; its only function is to hold us back from knowledge, not contribute to it.

    I see, so given that the Tanakh and NT focus a lot on understanding the dynamics of hypocrisy and self-righteousness psychologically and sociologically, perhaps you can point me to the superior science which investigates these things. I don’t want just ‘cognitive dissonance’, as that doesn’t capture anything like all of ‘hypocrisy’ and ‘self-righteousness’. Show me how science is surpassing my holy texts on some of the matters they consider the most important. Being humane to one another does not depend so much on how the heavens go in comparison. That is, the Bible is better understood as a social sciences textbook than a hard sciences textbook—if you’re going to insist it is a science textbook.

    Science has never claimed to understand everything perfectly; religion always has.

    Please provide empirical evidence of the underlined.

    Religion can claim zero credit for the advances in human knowledge, because they’ve all been made in spite of religion–not because of it.

    Sure, just define ‘knowledge’ in the instrumental way whereby it allows any purpose, from nuclear armageddon to nuclear power. But then you’re going to have a hard time saying that all that humanity needs to escape the problems it faces in the 21st century is “more science and technology” (≡ “more knowledge”). But then you blind yourself to stuff like this, which is probably a prerequisite for doing arbitrarily much science:

        The possibilities [for grounding equal worth] are frighteningly innumerable. My point is that you need some metaphysical explanation to ground the doctrine of equal worth, if it is to serve as the basis for equal human rights. It is not enough simply to assert, as philosophers like Dworkin do, that their egalitarian doctrines are “metaphysically unambiguous.” But, of course, there are severe epistemological difficulties with the kinds of metaphysical systems I have been discussing. My point has not been to defend religion. For purposes of this paper I am neutral on the question of whether any religion is true. Rather my purpose is to show that we cannot burn our bridges and still drive Mack trucks over them. But, if we cannot return to religion, then it would seem perhaps we should abandon egalitarianism and devise political philosophies that reflect naturalistic assumptions, theories which are forthright in viewing humans as differentially talented animals who must get on together. (Equality: Selected Readings, 296)

  • Christian

    Send the skunks to Syria