Religious apathy gets you nowhere
Wanky articles trumpeting apathy don’t help anyone
Louis Shankar’s article trumpeted apathy but I’m not apathetic about it.
I sympathised somewhat with Louis Shankar when reading his article ‘Militant Agnosticism is the way forward’. I am just as quick as him to condemn ‘religious’ atrocities and manipulation of the weak. I am also familiar with many other points he makes.
It sounds nice, I’ll admit. “You keep your belief to yourself and I won’t tell you why I think you’re wrong”. But I can’t help but think that this betrays a lack of confidence in his own view while actually undermining benefits that can come from religious debate. My jaw dropped when he started praising apathy as if it was a good thing, holding up ‘conscientious ignorance’ as a virtue. It’s not okay to just to let people live what you think is a lie.
If you think faith is a form of self-delusion, then I can understand why you have no time for any religious influence. But we’ve only defined it to mean that since Dawkins came along.
Choices I make on a daily basis are essentially based on my faith in how the world works. In the same way that I have faith in the science of aeroplanes, or faith in a doctor’s medical training, I pray because I have faith that God is real and listening. To me there’s no difference. I find the historical evidence from the first Christians that Jesus was actually raised from the dead persuasive.
Don’t get me wrong, you are an intelligent human being with the capacity to work out for yourself what the evidence suggests. I am happy for you to be unconvinced and to disagree with me, I just want you to make an informed decision. I have a lot of time for anyone of any view who will sit down and hear me out, pick the Bible up for themselves, or read an article I send them. I especially have a lot of time for people who want to tell me I am wrong.
In fact, I stand outside Cindies holding water bottles until 3am twice a term literally praying that someone will come out, have the confidence to engage with me, and tell me that I am wrong.
If you sit down and listen to me properly, look at the evidence for yourself and then explain why you disagree, then that’s great. That’s what I ask for. I love that. I hate apathy and ignorance.
What I have less time for is people who claim that there isn’t any evidence for God, act like they’re experts on the topic, and then show a complete ignorance of any of the major arguments. Those who have never spent the two hours it takes to read one of the accounts of Jesus’ life and then examine the scholarship around its reliability.
Because if you have thought it through and you’re confident I’m wrong, then please please please do not keep it to yourself. At a rough calculation my faith consumes 30% of my time and money, my sex life, a lot of my ‘street cred’ and, as an economist with a banking internship, it will probably cost me about £5million over my lifetime if I chuck that in and follow my plans to join the church.
To quote one of the first Christians “If Christ has not been raised I am the most pitiable of all people”. Please do not think that my faith is too personal, or such an admirable or positive trait that you shouldn’t question what I hold dear. I just find it patronising: if I’m deluded I want to know.
I understand that I’m weird. I also most of you would rather just get on with your life without being told that everything in my life is boring compared to Jesus, or that I can’t even see how life makes sense without him.
This ‘message’ is so amazing that Christians won’t stop talking about it even if people threaten to kill them. We want to give you the chance to make the most of your life. If it’s false it’s false for all of us, so let us get rid of it and turn the chapels into swimming pools, but if it’s true it’s true for all of us, so why not investigate it. It needs to be discussed. Debate is good. Debate is necessary. Debate is worth dying for.
I’d take Richard Dawkins over apathy ten times out of ten.