Tag Archive: Curiosity

Blamed for Curiosity

one too many questions

Graphic by David Hayward

Guest Post by Melody

A few days ago, I found myself commenting on Patheos, a part of which I will repeat here. It was about how God chose people — Judas, Jesus, etc. to play the role already laid out for them. Ultimately this makes free will more or less non-existent. The concept of free will combined with God’s complete foresight and knowledge often had puzzled me as a Christian.

If God already knew who would become his children and who wouldn’t, free choice didn’t really exist. Except God (and everyone else) said it did. I never could make sense of it and I so wanted to understand — that’s just how I’m wired — because I loved God and took it very seriously.

And then I wrote the following: “That’s one of the things that hurts, by the way, because questioning children and adults are seen as rebellious or irritating, whereas the questions came from a deep longing to understand and not from a negative or rebellious place at all. It did, however, ultimately show me that there weren’t any good answers to my questions.”

So I thought perhaps I should let it all out and rant for a while about this. I had questions, loads of them, as a child, teen, and adult. I had and still have a thirst for knowledge and I always assumed this to be a good thing. You should use your mind, shouldn’t you? Your reasoning, your God-given gifts?

Perhaps not….

Therefore, it can hurt a lot when people — parents, teachers or preachers — assume you are just being irritating and annoying for the sake of it; that you’re putting your finger on something to challenge their authority or to make them feel stupid, when all you are doing is trying to really understand and you are very seriously trying to find the truth — stubbornly so.

It doesn’t make for pleasant conversation, that’s for sure.

It does make for confused believers, however. Over the years, I learned that some questions were not allowed, that they were seen as challenging God himself, that I wasn’t supposed to ask them. In the end, I self-censored my questions and stopped myself from asking them out loud. It didn’t meant they had left me though. They had just gone underground.

It also made me disappointed. These authorities were supposed to have the answers and help us, the believers, in finding them. If God had all the answers, shouldn’t his representatives be able to answer? And if neither God, nor his representatives, provided one with any answers, is it really such a surprise people ultimately leave their faith?

You’d think they would at least understand that!

It has taught me that there are different kinds of believers — that some of them are okay with not knowing, with accepting all the unknowns about God; that not knowing doesn’t bother them in the least. That, presumably, they get a lot of other things out of their faith: community, a sense of belonging, meaning etc.

But that there are also believers who do long to know — quite desperately, even. They find their way to God through knowledge and if that method fails, will begin to look at faith and religion differently.

They become the kind of believers who then become what they have been accused of for ages already: rebellious and skeptical.

How were your doubts addressed by (church) authorities or family? Did you feel falsely accused of being rebellious or irritating when asking uncomfortable but honest questions?

Would you like to write a guest post? Please send me an email and let let know of your interest.

Bruce, You Are Doing an Awesome Job, Says One Fundamentalist Christian

curiosity

Readers might be surprised to learn that I am frequently contacted by Evangelicals who think I am still a Christian. They send me their prayer requests, ask for donations, ask for church recommendations, or have some pressing theological question they would like me to answer. Several Evangelicals have even wanted me to help them get the victory over sexual sin! Showing an utter lack of curiosity (Please see Curiosity, A Missing Evangelical Trait.) they assume I am a member of the Jesus Club™. Imagine their surprise when they find out I am a God-hating, baby-eating, Satan-worshiping, sin-loving atheist. One woman sent me a long email about how wonderful she thought I was — a true brother in Christ. And then, less than a day later, she sent me another email expressing her dismay over me being an atheist. The cognitive dissonance this caused her was so overwhelming that she didn’t know what to do. Surely an atheist couldn’t say or write anything that would “speak to her soul,” yet that is exactly what my writing did for her.

I am always amused when Evangelicals suggest that now that I am an atheist I no longer understand the Bible or Evangelical Christianity. They assume that the moment I said I no longer believe, God sent a supernatural vacuüm cleaner to earth and sucked five decades of knowledge out of my brain. After all the BIBLE says, But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. Now that I am a “natural” man, I no longer understand the Bible. This argument is so absurd that I don’t even try to respond. I know what I know, regardless of my “spiritual” condition.

Just this week I received an email from an Evangelical praising me for showing the vileness of the song My Church. The letter writer wrote, with a subject of Great Job!:

You probably don’t need to hear this, but I just this week heard the “My Church” song and was disgusted. I wanted to look up the lyrics to talk about in a lesson at church and found your sight[sic]. What you are doing is awesome.

A short while later, the letter writer, after checking out my awesome Christian blog, sent me this:

I just emailed you and I’m sorry for wasting your time. At a glance I thought you were someone who loved God and saw things the same way I do. I am not going to say things you already know, nor come to a level that some on your pages have as far as trying to belittle your opinion. Those actions are not very Christian, but at the same time i felt I needed to let you know that after reviewing your blog I see I was hasty in my earlier email and hope the furthest away from you continuing in this work. Though your desire is for this to not happen; I do pray that God will help you in health but more importantly find your way to him.

And…just like that I went from AWESOME to a bad man in need of salvation.

Note:

I am an expert at post tagging. Each day, upwards of twenty-five percent of my blog traffic comes from search engines. Most of these searches are performed by Christians. Each day hundreds of people come to this site thinking they are reading the writing of a brother in the Lord. Thanks to every post being appropriately and religiously tagged, my writing is usually well-ranked by Google and Bing. Of course, subject matter helps. When Evangelicals want to know if it is a sin for a man to have long hair, they usually end up at this site. And that is good, right? Knowledge is the only cure for Fundamentalism.

Curiosity, A Missing Evangelical Trait

curiosity

Why is it that so many Evangelicals have no desire to be curious? Yes, I know many are, so don’t get your panties in a bunch if you are a curiouser- than-a-cat Evangelical. I frequently get an email or a blog comment from an Evangelical Christian wanting to “help” me find my way to Jesus. Such people are certain that they possess the requisite knowledge and skill to win me to Jesus. They are sure that if they just befriend me, quote the right verses, soothe my hurts, or understand my pain, I will fall on my knees and call on the name of Jesus.

I was in the Christian church for fifty years. I was a pastor for twenty-five of those years. I have a Bible college education. Surely they understand that I am not an atheist out of ignorance? Of course not, and here is where their lack of curiosity gets them in trouble. They often don’t know anything about me or this blog. Why? Because they did a Google/Bing/Yahoo search for _________________ and their search brought them to a single blog post of mine. They read that one post and immediately decide that I am a poor wayfaring waif in need of Jesus.

When I get comments such as these, I go to the logs and see what pages they read. Usually, they have read only the page the search brought them to. Their lack of curiosity (or laziness) is astounding and leads them to make wild judgments about me and come to rash, ill-informed conclusions. If they would just read the About page they would be better informed about me and this blog.

I suspect part of the reason Evangelicals are not, in general, known for their curiosity, is because they are 100% certain that they are absolutely right. They worship the one, true God and this God lives inside of them. This God walks with them, talks with them, and tell them that they are his own. They have a supernatural book given to them by this supernatural God. This book contains all the answers about life they will ever need.

When you are certain…there is no need to think, reason, investigate, or doubt. When the man upstairs is on your team, no need to consider any other team. When your church has declared that strawberry ice cream is the one true ice cream, no need to try any other ice cream.

Simply put, no need to know anything else, when you already know all you need to know. God said it and that settled it. One true God, one true religious text, one way of salvation. The earth is 6,000 years old, created in six days. The Bible gives the blueprint for Christ-honoring family, a happy marriage, obedient kids, and great sex. When the answer to every question is God, it’s not surprising to find that Evangelicals are not curious.

The good news is that more and more Evangelicals are discovering the curiosity that lies dormant beneath the surface of their lives. Once they make this discovery, they are on their way out of the closed-mindedness and senses-dulling prison of Evangelicalism. They will find out that science can and does explain the world they live in. Science doesn’t have all the answers, but it is asking the right questions.

Still want/need to believe in a transcendent deity or some sort of spirituality? Once free of the heaven/hell, saved/lost, in/out, good/bad paradigm of Evangelicalism, people are free to wander at will. When the fear of hell and judgment is gone, they are free to experience those things that are meaningful to them. Once the question is no longer will you go to heaven when you die, the journey rather than the destination becomes what matters.

Curiosity may kill the cat, but trust me Evangelicals, it won’t kill you.

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