Monday, February 6, 2012

Hump’s Advice to the Non-Religiously Afflicted: Responding to “God’s Plan”

From time to time I am asked for my opinion by freethinkers on how to handle debate questions or deal with personal issues related to religion. The following was posed to me by a Facebook friend who finds herself under siege by platitude spouting God Virus infected Bible belt denizens.Kelly from Tennessee writes:

“Dear Hump,
99.9999% of my fb friends are xtians. What is the best response to people who claim
‘I must trust in God no matter how much I suffer, he has a plan for my life.’

Dear Kelly,

Naturally there are a number of responses, but I assume you want to keep these religious nutters as your fb friends, so that narrows the options. The simplest and most direct reply is this:

"Trusting in an imaginary friend is something thinking people gave up once they outgrew toddlerhood. If one finds comfort in believing their life is guided by the imaginary friend they have opted to retain in adulthood, that's fine for them. Suffering, sadness, death, happiness, success, failure, comfort...they are part of the facts of life, part and parcel to man's existence - no spirit thing is involved, nor need be invoked.”

“I prefer to take control of my life; do my own planning, set my goals and objectives, and work toward them with education, self reliance, and with eyes opened to the reality of the world...the only reality and the only world there is. It works for me, thank you."

See how that goes over. If they are unable to comprehend this, which many won't; or if that doesn't end the proselytizing, and it probably won't, may I suggest as a last resort my alternate approach to wit: "Well go screw yourself and the man-god you rode in on."

Hope that helped.

This Xtian need for their lives to have a plan managed for them by their god thing must be very comforting. It absolves them of any responsibility for their lot in life, and sets a low expectation for the effort they put into controlling their own destiny.

If their child dies from an untreated disease; if an infant is born with an alcohol induced birth defect; if their double wide is destroyed in a hurricane; if they lose their job; if they get kicked off of public assistance; if they roll their pickup and break their neck; if their club foot isn’t cured by the faith healer; if they drop their long neck beer bottle during a bar fight; if the road kill they scrapped off the interstate for dinner has mange rendering it unfit to serve to the visiting Pastor - somehow, some way, it's all part of a complex plan that their Sky Buddy has laid out for them.

Of course, when Cousin Mary Ellen came out of the closet and declared her full blown lesbianism, that wasn't part of God’s plan at all, nuh uh! That was Satan at work.

It's not for them to understand God’s plan, it never is. After all, who but their omniscient God could conceive of the plan behind why Aunt Mildred couldn't find her way out of her darkened house crammed with 60 years of accumulated bibles, paper church fans, pictures of Jesus, unpaid electric bills, magazines, newspapers, fried chicken bones, assorted trash, seventy-two cats (living and deceased) and their associated waste when she dropped a lit Pall Mall onto her bed bug infested urine stained mattress and burned her and her house into oblivion in twenty-five minutes?

But God must have had an ulterior motive. Clearly, Aunt Mildred (aka Crispy Milly) was just a small wheel in the big cog of the inner workings of God's ultimate game plan for her and the universe. Even Mildred knew this.

I, however, prefer to think it was nature's way of thinning the herd, natural selection at work - and at its best.


NewEnglandBob said...

“I prefer to take control of my life; do my own planning, set my goals and objectives, and work toward them with education, self reliance, and with eyes opened to the reality of the world...the only reality and the only world there is. It works for me, thank you."

This is the way I also try to live my life - one problem though, my wife has other goals and objectives FOR me ;)

Dromedary Hump said...

You too, eh Bob? ;)

David said...

I see god's plan in action every day. Kids dying of AIDS in famine stricken Africa, children born with horrible birth defects, children molested at the hands of their trusted religious supervisors. One great plan that god fellow has.

tiNstAg said...

I'm with you David. Just to expand one of your statistics - 925 million people starving to death (that's 1 in 7) on the planet (2010 figures) is one helluva plan, from one sadistic mind... Helleluja! [sic]

Anonymous said...

As much as we like to control our lives, the fact is that we live in an indifferent universe and basically shit happens we have no control over.

The best anyone can do to mitigate the shit by understanding how reality works. I found that the tools of science and the answers (incomplete as they are) are the best means to understand reality then those models based on wish fulfillment and a trust of religious leaders (and some politicians) who have “pat answers” but no understanding of the nature of the universe since they are so wrapped up in the god delusion (or are con artists who do understand, but have little conscious and ethics and will fleece the sheep).

- Fastthumbs

Dromedary Hump said...

Yes, "god's plan" seems to include a lot of death and pain for the least among us. Funny how that works.

But on the upside, God's plan is oh so evident every time a wide receiver scores, and points up to sky daddy.

fastthumbs- agreed. chance, probability, & shit happens is part of the equation of our lives. It gets factored in and blended with the decisions we make. Hopefully the uncontrollable works out for the best as often as it does against us...cancelling itself out and permitting our drive and self determination to be the major guiding force.

i like to think that anyway ;)

Chatpilot said...

Looking at life from a naturalistic view is the most rationalistic position to take. Shit happens all the time and its up to you to deal with it as best as you can. Groveling on your knees praying to an imaginary deity is about as helpful as doing nothing at all.

Anonymous said...

The guy's clearly just looking for pity.

Suffering. Please. He probably walked to his fridge and saw that he was out of beer. "MY GOD! Why have you forsaken me?!?!?

Anonymous said...

This post was helpful up to the wrenching veer into the assumption that everyone who claims god has a plan for us is a white trash redneck. There are few rednecks in my life, but plenty of Xtians who otherwise live pretty much the same way I do who throw this out in conversation, & these are people I have to work with and like to socialize with.


Dromedary Hump said...


I have it on good authority that Jebus spoke with a southern do his most rabid admirers in this country.

That's not to say some significant number of northerners aren't similalrly infected, but I claim the right to use literary license to best emphasize my point.

BTW,,,Amy was from TN.

Rose A. said...

This is not a comment on the post, but a question. My daughter, in her mid-teens, is an atheist as am I. Can you recommend age-appropriate reading material to help her respond to comments from religious classmates. Believe it or not, this topic actually comes up more than you might think in High School. I just want her to be able to speak on the subject in a rationale way. Thank you.

Dromedary Hump said...

Hi Rose,

it's been a while since I've been in High School. But eveything i've ever read on the subject is "age approriate", some just more steeped in scientific jargon than others.

You don't say what kind of questions or comments she is getting from her class mates... but there are some books which would be good primers:

Sam Harris' "The Moral Landscape" could help her explain why atheists are as moral as anyone else, even without belief in God/gods and how morality evolves.

Harris' : "Letters to a Christian Nation" has some very good info about this nation where it's been and where it's going relative to atheism and the Xtian majority.

and Christopher Hitchens edited the "Portable Atheist", a collection of many articles on by freethinkers and aactivists, that can be used like a reference book.

Finally, Malcom Murry's "The Atheist's Primer" sounds like a great starter book, but I havn't read it.

My own books may be a tad salty for her, and a bit on the radicle side. Your call on that one.

Maybe my other readers could give you some additional/better suggestions.

Good luck, and kudos to you on raising a freethinker with courage.

tiNstAg said...

Hey Hump, don't put yourself down - reading your 2 books galvanized me into action last year :-)

Other book suggestions to add to yours:

One I am currently reading covers a lot of ground and , in my opinion, should be part of the school curriculum: "The Magic of Reality" - Richard Dawkins


"God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything" - Christopher Hitchens

"The God Virus: How Religion infects our Lives and Culture" - Darrel W. Ray

"God Hates You, Hate Him Back: Making Sense of the Bible" - C J Werlmann

Related reading:

"Don't Sleep, There are Snakes" - Daniel Everett (an interesting story of a linguist missionary in South America losing his "faith")

Dromedary Hump said...

Thanks . i wasn't so much putting my books down (my ego is waaaay too big for anything resembling humbleness); I'm justnot sure a 17 yr old who isn't well read on atheism is ready for my books as yet... they tend to be geared for anti-theist inclined atheists.

If Rose has read my books she'd know best. If she hasn't read them... well, my hump is deflated.

I agree the God Virus is a good read, and sound theory, but it's largely theory. I'd rather Rose's daughter get some historical perspective and rock solid rebuttal preparation to the crap xtians throw at her, before she delves into Daryl Ray's book.

Your other suggestions for her are rock solid.

David said...

Hi Hump,

I've just finished reading your first book and whilst it aligned perfectly with my anti-theistic attitude and I found it a thoroughly enjoyable read and an example of common sense documented I would agree it is quite salty. If I tried out many of your debate themes on my friends and relatives although none of them particularly theistic I would probably be told to chill out.

Susan Ingram said...

How about she starts off with God helps those who help themselves and then goes into the "I prefer to take control..." if she starts with language they understand they might listen to the part they need to listen too.

Dromedary Hump said...

David,'s less a source to use directly in debate confrontation, and more a stimulous for atheist activism, a reference material to give atheists some insights (incites ;)and concepts to use on their own.

My style does not lend itself to genteel debate. Hence, a 17 yr old girls first atheist book it's not.

Rose A. said...

Thank you all for your suggestions. Hump -- of course I have read your books and will pass them on to Kaitlyn after she has a little more practical knowledge under her belt. I ordered the Atheist Primer from Amazon -- but it is not expected until the beginning or mid April.