The Michael Mock Rule: It Just Doesn’t Make Sense

it just doesnt make sense

Michael Mock is a long-time digital friend of mine. I am not sure how we first connected, but Michael has ridden the Bruce Gerencser Crazy Train® through each of this blog’s iterations: Bruce Droppings, From Eternity to Here, The Way Forward, and now The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser. Michael has told me several times over the years that I am the type of person who knows just one speed — fast. The rhythm of my life is one of run, run, run, crash, burn, and then slowly, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, I start again. Michael has watched me repeatedly do this over the years, as have others who have been long-time digital friends. Hopefully, they have been paying attention — two years, four months, still going strong. No crash and burn. Have I learned to slow down? Have I learned to balance my life? Or is this the calm before the storm? I don’t know, but for now I feel that I am in a good place. I take each day as it comes, trying not to let caustic, vindictive, hateful Christian assholes get under my skin. When they do get under my skin, it is nice to know that I can now count on Michael and others to step in and deflect their attacks. I suspect this is why there is a glimmer of hope for the crash and burn cycle finally being broken, at least when it comes to blogging.

The aforementioned history lesson was given so that readers would know that Michael and I are, as much as the internet allows, good friends. We are friends on Facebook, dutifully clicking LIKE on each other’s photographs, memes, and status reports. Michael has a blog: Mock Ramblings. I hope you will check it out.

Having studiously read Michael’s blog posts and his comments on this blog, I have been able to ascertain from Michael’s words what I call The Michael Mock Rule. While Michael is quite capable of chasing Evangelical rabbits until they die from exhaustion, his view of Christianity is straightforward: Christianity doesn’t make sense. When Evangelical Bible thumpers wax eloquent about this or that doctrine, saying that all Michael, and others like him need to do is just b-e-l-i-e-v-e, Michael responds, just believing might work for you, but these beliefs don’t make any sense to me.  For Christians, these beliefs make perfect sense — as they always do for those ensconced safely in the Evangelical bubble. But for Michael, these b-e-l-i-e-v-a-b-l-e beliefs are anything but. Perhaps Michael would become a Christian if the central claims of Christianity made sense, but, at least to Michael, they don’t.

In recent months, I have started using The Michael Mock Rule when engaging Evangelicals who have their hearts set on winning me back to Jesus. Instead of endlessly debating and discussing this or that doctrine, I invoke The Michael Mock Rule : It just doesn’t make sense.

Consider the following Evangelical beliefs. Do they make sense to you?

  • The Bible is a divine text? Inerrant text? Infallible text?
  • God is one person, in three parts: Father, son, and Holy Spirit?
  • Universe created in six twenty-four hour days?
  • Adam and Eve the first humans and the mother and father of the human race?
  • Adam and Eve were tempted to sin by a talking snake who walked upright?
  • All humans are sinners because Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate fruit from a forbidden tree?
  • The story of Noah, the Ark, and universal flood?
  • The Tower of Babel?
  • Fallen angels having sex with human women, producing hybrid children?
  • Jesus is God in the flesh?
  • Jesus was born of a virgin? His mother was impregnated by the Holy Spirit?
  • Jesus walked on water? Turned water into wine? Healed blindness? Walked through walls?
  • Jesus died and resurrected from the dead three days later?
  • Jesus ascended to heaven?
  • Jesus will return to earth someday, destroying the earth and making all things new?
  • All humans are sinners in need of salvation, broken in need of fixing?
  • Blood atonement for sin?
  • Life without Jesus is meaningless and without purpose?
  • All that matters in life is Jesus?
  • If I believe in Jesus I go to heaven when I die, if don’t believe I go to hell?
  • Rapture? Dead people coming back to life?

Evangelicals routinely make the above assertions without presenting any evidence for their claims — and quoting the Bible is not evidence. These claims are reinforced Sunday after Sunday through sermons, Sunday school lessons, and songs. Through the week, Evangelicals read Christian literature, listen to Christian podcasts and music, and tune in to Christian radio and TV stations. These followers of Jesus are surrounded by people who, minute by minute, hour by hour, and day by day, reinforce these “truth” claims. Having been immersed in Evangelicalism their entire lives, Christians find that these beliefs make perfect sense.

But for those who have never lived in the Evangelical bubble or no longer do so, these beliefs just don’t make sense. Believing them requires a suspension of rational thought. Believing them requires putting faith above facts, knowledge, and evidence. Believing them requires setting skepticism aside. Believing them requires accepting the most outlandish of things as true. The Michael Mock Rule says to all of these beliefs: It Just Doesn’t Make Sense.

An Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preacher friend of mine left Christianity a few months ago. I was stunned by his disavowal of beliefs he once held dear. I don’t know why I am still surprised by such deconversions. Reason, rational thought, and skepticism are strong antidotes to Evangelical infections and disease. Now that my friend is outside of the Evangelical bubble, he finds himself banging his head on the proverbial wall, saying, how could I ever have believed these things!

The answer, of course, is quite simple. When people are immersed (brainwashed) in Evangelical belief and practice — often from birth — they only know what they have been taught. As long as they remain in the Evangelical bubble, everything makes sense, including the irrational beliefs mentioned above. When every peer, preacher, and family member believes the same thing, it is only natural for others to believe likewise. I don’t fault Evangelicals for believing what they believe. They know what they know, and through no fault of their own, their minds are walled off from beliefs that do not align with what Evangelicals traditionally believe and practice. When Satan, in the form of an Evangelical-turned-atheist blogger says, Yea, hath God said, warning horns, bells, and whistles sound, telling Evangelicals to steer clear of this false prophet. Those who ignore these warnings put their souls in harm’s way.

Fortunately, more and more Evangelicals are willing to venture outside of the safety of the Evangelical bubble. Once free of their doctrinal taskmasters, these curious Christians seek answers to their doubts and questions — doubts and questions often left unanswered by their pastors, teachers, and parents. (Memo to preachers: answering questions with just believe, just have faith, the Bible says are not acceptable answers to doubts and questions. You are driving people away from Christianity with these non-answer answers.) And as is often the case, the more questions they find answers for, the more questions they have. And before long, these Doubting Thomases have questioned themselves right out of Christianity and the faith they once held dear.

Once outside of the bubble, former Evangelicals look at the beliefs they once held dear and often say to themselves, how could I ever had believed these things? These beliefs just don’t make sense! And there it is, The Michael Mock Rule: These beliefs just don’t make sense. I now understand that I once believed things that can only be labeled as bat-shit crazy. There is no way for me to openly and honestly judge my past religious beliefs without concluding that I believed things better suited for a sequel to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

It has been almost nine years since my divorce from Jesus was finalized. I haven’t read the Bible in almost a decade, nor have I darkened the doors of the church to attend worship. Every day I live, I am one day further removed from religious beliefs, practices, and indoctrination that once dominated my every thought, word, and deed. I am at the place in life where Christian beliefs now sound strange, odd, and fanciful — dusty relics from ancient human history. I find myself saying, this just doesn’t make sense. And in these moments, I tip my hat and say, thank you Michael Mock.

What do you think of The Michael Mock Rule? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

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12 Comments

  1. An

    I like this approach. I think it’s something all ex-Christians can use.

    Reply
  2. JR

    You haven’t read the bible for almost a decade? No wonder you don’t believe. If you would only read your bible every day then it would all make sense to you. Forget that it was the bible that started your doubts in the first place and just READ IT! Another belief that doesn’t make sense.

    Reply
  3. Lydia

    The Michael Mock rule makes perfect sense to me. I need to start thinking about it more often, to be honest with you.

    Reply
  4. Michael Mock

    Sorry, I’m too embarrassed to actually comment on this. Flattered, but embarrassed.

    I will note, however, that anybody who goes to my blog looking for atheism-related stuff should probably check the atheism tag. The blog overall is devoted to the topic of “whatever happens to be on my mind at present”, which includes any number of unrelated topics.

    Reply
  5. Mary Cox

    Bruce, this is somewhat unrelated, but, at some point, would you please address what you did with all your old study materials? Thank you.

    Reply
  6. Troy

    Great points about religion in general. As pre-rational children we are spoon fed these absurdities and then the culture at large gives them sustenance. A great parallel is Santa Claus belief (which I had for a very long time). I have to laugh at myself when I think about debating the girl in front of me in my 5th grade homeroom about the existence of Santa Claus. I could see how flustered she was as she made an airtight case.
    I checked out Michael’s blog, not much atheism. But if you think about it why should there be? It is a bit like continuing to debate a spherical Earth. Why continue blogging about it? There is value in establishing a community and to elucidate the excesses of religion as well as to show a light to those who are finding their way.

    Reply
  7. Brian

    Mr. Mock comments regularly lend me balance in my very stormy reactions to beliefs expressed here by Christians. The Mock Rule is very much needed in the wild world of evangelical belief. It needs repeating like a mantra when we are under the influence of the Woo Gas.

    Reply
  8. Melody

    I like it. It doesn’t make sense.

    The funny thing is that even Evangelicals are easily enough in spotting these things in myths or religions other than their own. For me, that was one of the things that caused some of my doubts. Because I could see sincere believers of other faiths think about our faith in a similar way as we did in regards to theirs: I just doesn’t make sense, we’d say, how can they believe that?

    It does need constant reinforcement too. Either by the larger culture, family and friends, or by yourself and your own Bible reading and so on. When you stop doing that so much, and retreat from church, it become easier to follow your own train of thought and to listen to doubts and to respect them instead of shoving them away.

    Reply
    1. Becky Wiren

      Exactly. We were supposed to constantly reinforce our religion, otherwise the devil could cause us to have doubts. And it’s a reason why more liberal church members are considered shaky, because they have allowed themselves to see some part of reality.

      Reply
  9. Angiep

    Michael Mock plays with dolls. He even travels with them. (Excuse me, I mean “action figures.”) Which is not a bad thing. I do enjoy his unique pearls of wisdom on FB.

    Reply
  10. deano

    I try and now live life by that Rule. I look at all claims, especially political ones…..

    #WMDS?….there was none! The reason for Iraq War?…….”It doesnt make sense”

    # 9/11. 2 planes bring down 3 skyscrapers? kerosene fires melt steel?…….”It doesnt make sense”

    # MH370 totally dissappeared?…….”It doesnt make sense” ……..+ many others

    What a pity that anyone coming up with a possible reason that does make sense……is labelled a “Consp Theorist”.
    Watergate people! It does, it can, and will happen again.
    I hope all those that deconvert, analyse everything with a skeptical mindframe. Science & Evolution included, and of course these political crys for wars. Jerusalem and your Christian Bretheren “Anxious for Armageddon” especially.
    Welcome to the “unreal” world , very similar to the “Bible Based” world…….it just doesnt make sense. If you take it on blind faith what they are telling you………Facebook a recent example.

    Reply
  11. GeoffT

    “# 9/11. 2 planes bring down 3 skyscrapers? kerosene fires melt steel?…….”It doesnt make sense””

    Yes it does make sense and yes that’s what happened.

    Note the steel didn’t have actually to melt, it had only to soften sufficiently to weaken the structures.

    Reply

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