Sunday, February 20, 2022

Deism: Don't Be That Guy

Religion is for most people their most important defining characteristic, something that speaks deeply to who they are as a person. Your religious faith defines how you relate to the world, the rest of humanity and even how you view yourself. Needless to say, when something shakes or changes your religious faith it causes a seismic change in people. Deciding to change the football team you root for isn't quite the same as rethinking your place in the cosmos. 

Different people react differently to these changes. Many fall into apathy and depression. Others wander aimlessly trying different stuff only to discard the latest and greatest when they find something else new. They try to replace their former certainty with a new certainty.

Of course we all probably know "That Guy", the guy who leaves his religious faith and then sees his life's mission as telling everyone he meets that he left that faith and why they should too. It typically is exhibited in an obnoxious, know-it-all attitude. No one likes That Guy and no one really listens to them either. In religious circles they are the equivalent of vegans. You know the joke "How can you tell someone is a vegan? Just wait a minute, they will tell you". The same holds true with That Guy, no matter what he will find a way to work into the conversation that he used to be ignorant but now is super smart.

In my own religious journey I was That Guy for a while, specifically when we got out of mormonism. My opinion of that religion hasn't changed much, I believe it to be a very polite and wholesome appearing religious cult. I spent a lot of time and effort after we left mormonism and joined the evangelical Christian faith telling people that mormonism was an anti-Christian cult and helping to equip people to witness to mormons in an effort to get them to leave their faith. I still think you should leave mormonism, not because it is a heretical sect that denies basic Christian truths, but because it is a genuine religious cult that engages in mental and emotional manipulation. 

Anyway, when I walked away from organized religion I quietly decided on my own to not be That Guy. I am not interested in convincing anyone to abandon their faith, rather I am simply exploring my own in this public forum. While I am happy to talk about why I have turned my back on organized religion, I am not seeking out people to tell them why they should too. 

Far too often what I see from people who have changed or abandoned religion is a grotesque overreaction in the opposite direction, the "I used to be a fundamentalist evangelical but now I support homosexuality, abortion and feminism. Oh, and Orange Man Bad!". If you leave what you see as the cult of fundamentalism and replace it with the cult of wokeness, you aren't any better off and probably are in a worse place. 

Being angry and resentful and mocking people for their deeply held faith might help fill the void in your personality but it doesn't help anyone else. No one is interested in the opinions of an insufferable asshole. I can say that with some authority. 


It doesn't really matter what the specific circumstances are. If you used to be a liberal but now are a conservative or vice versa, or grew up Catholic and then became Protestant or vice versa, or were a fundamentalist but now you're an atheist. Whatever, just don't be That Guy. 

6 comments:

  1. I think religion is like an operating system. Every religion seems to require a prophet and a devil. For instance, in the Free software religion, the prophet was Richard Stallman, and the devil is Bill Gates. By releasing open source code, you can earn salvation. The emotional manipulation between good and evil gives it power. God is not manipulated or present in those who do.

    Mormonism is a good example. By setting high standards in everything, it is optimized for survival . Since it is such a comprehensive system, it requires tremendous manipulative power to enable it.

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    1. That is absolutely true, to maintain the stuff that people like about mormonism you have to tightly control the people. I see many of the same issues among the Amish.

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  2. Not sure if you meant it that way, but the LDS are no more a cult than Papists, other than the passage of time. All religions start as a cult ( some return to a cult, as outsiders use the religion for other purposes, such as eastern religions and Hippy Scum ). All of them manipulate their people. All of them do evil ( wars to irradiate the Evil Outsiders, push to procreate, even in a resource scarce era, illegal Congolese to "safe houses" in the US in a time of increasing racial tensions ). All do a whole heck of a lot of good, as well, more than they do evil, usually. Just saying, using "cult" as a derogatory term denoting illegitimacy is a loaded gun. Was Jim Jones a cult? Okay, sure. Unless they hadn't all drank the Kool-Aid and been around and grown for fifty years, then it should probably be considered another religion. No less legitimate than the Seven Day dudes, a crazy cult based on the End Times that made the mistake of trying to time the event.

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    1. Back in the day I generally regarded Catholicism as a cult as well but we have personal experience with mormonism and all of the cultic control systems are in place. It is a loaded term but I stand by it.

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    2. Fair enough. That also might explain my view of the Catholics. Not of the religion, I still attended Junior High at a parochial school and got plenty of insight as an outsider. I always appreciated the experience, a great education allowing me to coast through Public Prison the four years afterwards. Still, a lot to criticize. Anyway, thanks, I enjoyed the article ( as I almost always do ).

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  3. Say what you will, cults can get a lot of stuff done.

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