Wednesday, June 26, 2013

"No gods or kings, only man."

As usual lately I've been inspired to post a bit from stuff over at Randal Rauser's blog.  I posted this as a comment there in response to the idea of "How much freedom would you surrender to live comfortably?".

Randal has the very right-headed sentiment that giving up freedom for extra security is not something worth doing, and I pointed out that this is a bit of an odd view for him to take, considering the Christian god knows all our thoughts, before even we do, and that it is a punishable sin to merely even think certain thoughts. You don't even have to act on them, just thinking about something Yahweh doesn't like is enough to get cast into hell if you don't accept Jesus to forgive your thoughtcrime.

After a brief exchange, the entire thing reminded me of something rather profound that was pointed out to me by other atheists online when I had just deconverted and was reaching out for help - the idea that my thoughts and my mind are my own.

To see the reply to Randal keep on reading.

Author's side note: This is not an attack on Randal, it's just another area we disagree.  It's just that his posts helped me remember something rather profound when I had just deconverted. 

You can make that argument that it's not god's fault that (on your worldview) we have no real privacy, but I think the absolute revulsion we hold for the concept of "thought crime" or the idea that other people could know our thoughts is something that should applied to Christianity.

I know it probably doesn't seem that way to you since you're a Christian, but from someone who was in that worldview, and then got out, it's something amazing when you realize there's no omniscient big brother in the sky (obviously I say this from my point of view as an apostate/atheist).

I remember when I deconverted I was on an atheist forum and was reaching out for some support, and one of the posts that really hit home was "Take joy in the fact that your thoughts and your mind are your own".

That wasn't really something that immediately came to mind while I was deconverting, but on reflection it was truly a liberating feeling.  Thinking about the concept now of thought crime being a punishable sin, and the all-knowing god knowing my thoughts even before I know them, is as revolting as the Orwellian concept of "thought-crime" in a physical/political context.

It was around then that I was playing through Bioshock, and the quote from the beginning of the game pushed the point a bit more: "No gods or kings, only man."

It's that kind of libertarian ideal that I was hammered into thinking was inherently evil when I was raised a Christian that now seemed to be one of the most important sentiments to hold to moving forward as an atheist.


  1. Good thoughts. You brought up some stuff that jogged my memory a bit and reminded me of a Christian rock song that relates to this. I blogged about it.

    1. I posted over there, but it is sickening to look back on my childhood in Christian schools and church where any concept of "being my own master" was hammered as inherently evil.

      Given how one of the catchphrases of Evangelicals is being "Slaves to Christ", it makes it all the more disturbing. Take a look at this article:

      Notice the newspeak from the link: "Slavery to Christ not only means freedom from sin, guilt, and condemnation. It also means freedom to obey, to please God, and to live the way our Creator intended us to live—in intimate fellowship with Him."

      It's just insane looking back. I'm continually struck at the kinds of things I used to believe, and believe fervently, that look so incredibly unbelievable now.

    2. Yeah, I always thought stuff like dying to live and becoming a slave to be free was really profound. Turns out it was just manipulative nonsense.