Lately I have found within myself a strange, masochistic yearning to read through sermons. I say masochistic because, generally, they do nothing more than make me mad- someone actually taught this crap to an entire congregation of people?? But, I still enjoy reading them to a certain extent because they offer a sort of validation for me that I made the correct and logical decision in becoming and remaining an atheist, despite potential backlash from friends and family. So, this morning I came across a sermon entitled, “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Godlessness” by Joel Smith, a pastor of a Baptist church.
You can read the entire sermon here, but basically it is about how easy it is to be an atheist. Now, I think that assertion is up for a whole different debate, but I want to focus on the part that disturbed me the most: He spoke of atheism as a way of life in which god is not present which, to a certain extent, is true. However, he claims that even though many of the congregate members sitting before him believe in god, they do not allow him fully into their everyday lives and are, therefore, atheists.
Holy shit did that offend me!
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines an atheist as, “one who believes that there is no deity” NOT “one who believes there is a deity but does not welcome it into their daily lives like they should”. I am very proud to be an atheist and I will be damned (by no god in particular) if this pastor can just go around asserting that perhaps atheists do believe in god, they just do not welcome him into their lives! No sir. He is not welcome in my life BECAUSE HE DOES NOT EXIST.
After Joel introduces his new definition of atheism, he goes on to explain how to be an atheist:
“Why does Genesis tell us that Cain built a city? Nice info, but so what? The reason Cain built a city was protection. Prior to this he killed his brother Abel and God cursed Cain for it. He was cast out of the area where his family dwelt and into a harsher, crueler world. He would have even less of God’s provision and protection than his parents. Therefore Cain built a nice little fortified wall around a collection of houses and other buildings – the first city. It was the absence of God in his life that led him to this. Keep in mind that Cain believed in God, but he lived his life apart from the Him. In his mind he was a believer, but in his practice he was an atheist, without God. This gives us our first principle in becoming a practical or practicing atheist. Focus on insulating yourself from the harsh realities of life on earth… Not only do the godly refuse to insulate, they refuse to worry about the harsh realities of life. They look to and call on the God who is more than adequate to meet their needs. They live lives of adventure as God takes them from one assignment to the next.”
Atheists “focus on insulating themselves from the harsh realities of life.” Just let that stew in your brain for a bit… After that stews for about 2 minutes, add this next ingredient:
“That’s the outworking of godlessness: self-reliance rather than dependence on God. The godless person relies on their own wisdom, experience, skill, and strength to navigate life. The godly person, on the other hand, admits their inability and seeks God’s help more and more.”
Now, let that cook for the rest of your life and take pleasure in knowing that you are self-sufficient and can rely on your “own wisdom, experience, skill and strength to navigate life”. (For extra sweetness, add a dash of uncontrollable laughter and disbelief- I did and it turned out great!)
Before I end up disclosing all of my secret recipes in this one post, I’ll move on by saying that this guy is completely bat-shit crazy. Since when has it become a bad thing to live your life based on experience and wisdom and skill? Shit, you can’t even get a job without skill and experience! And how are addicts supposed to accept the things they cannot change without the wisdom to know the difference?? Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for admitting inability. If I ran into someone on the street needing emergency brain surgery, I would immediately admit my inability to perform that task and then proceed to wonder how this person even knew they needed emergency brain surgery to begin with. Although, given the rationale of Mr. Smith, perhaps if I just prayed that I could help this person, my hands would magically know what to do!
“I sometimes think God probably love[s] my wife Laura more than any other person I know. She constantly cries out to Him. If she has a big or little decision, she seeks Him. She teaches Drake and Anna Gray to cry out to God if they’ve lost something. If it’s dark or rainy at Wal-Mart she cries out for a parking place and gets it. She even cried out for His direction on which watermelon to buy. Two summers ago she cried out when we were at a financial and emotional breaking point and God gave me a new job. God answers people who admit their need. “
God gave this guy a new job, gave his wife a good parking space so she wouldn’t get too wet and he even offered his almighty guidance on which watermelon is best. Now, I know what you are thinking: “But, Missy! What about those poor people out in the rain that day down the street from that Wal-Mart with no car or no home to run to for shelter?” The answer is simple, my friends: they are not praying correctly. They may believe in god, but they are not asking him to be present in their everyday lives, therefore he is turned off to them. Instead of filling out job applications and wasting time in interviews, they should be praying and leaving it in god’s capable hands! Until then, he has more important things to worry about! He can’t just let Laura buy that dingy looking watermelon!
This is where the masochism comes in to play. SOMEONE ACTUALLY SAID THIS TO A BUNCH OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE PUT THEIR TRUST IN HIM TO SHOW THEM THE WAY TO BE CLOSER TO GOD AND UP THEIR CHANCES OF GETTING INTO HEAVEN (yes, I just screamed that at the sermon). Joel Smith says it is godless to depend on your wisdom and experience or on your skills and strengths and advises that they do none of these things, that instead they rely solely on god. For to be unknowing of the world is to be closer to god. This kind of teaching is EXACTLY why people trash the earth and remain ignorant to the horrible things happening in the world today. Not only ignorant, but uncaring and unyielding. THIS is why there are churches out there teaching their children to protest dead soldiers. Sure, they are extremists, but aren’t sermons like these where it all starts??
1. If people couldn’t make small decisions without the help of an omniscient god, the world would come to a standstill. 2. The world moves on. 3. Therefore, god exists. Q.E.D.
Ah, you got me.
If Not-P, then Q
The valid conclusion here is “People CAN make small decisions without the help of an omniscient God.”
Let’s hope that Mr. Smith doesn’t go to Washington.
I think you meant, “Let’s pray”. 🙂
D’oh! OK, I’m in good with Velles, the Slavic god of musicians, wealth and trickery…. He’ll help us. he loves me. Hell, he just found me the best ever parking spot and even picked out the right Italian salami. Lunch has never tasted so good! Praise Velles!
Getting a god to help you pick out a watermelon is one thing, but an Italian Salami?! Whoah! Praise to Velles is right!
I can just see Laura, driving round the parking lot for an hour, waiting for her god to free up a convenient space! I don’t know what’s more frightening, that someone says these things, or that other people believe them.
Right?! That parking space was not freed because someone was finished with their shopping, oh no! It was freed because god willed it to be freed. Do you think that the person god willed to move out of that parking spot for Laura just became a zombie in the store and abruptly decided they were done shopping at that moment?? How weird would it be to see that? HA!
Haha, totally! Dumped their basket and wandered aimlessly out the shop to their car. I wish I could do short films – ‘people moved by prayer’ could be massively entertaining.
Oooooh, yes! I think you are on to something there! I would TOTALLY watch that!
(love the Internet Explorer thing!)
Did you make it up?? You should publish it to get lots of well-deserved praise and attention! 🙂
Nope, I wish I did! Found it in the vast and mysterious interwebs. Maybe I could create another and get loads of attention… Oooh! I know! I could exchange Internet Explorer for Apple Maps!
This whole defining-atheism-as-not-properly-integrating-God thing is just a clever ruse to demonize atheism (and, by reference, rational thought). It’s intuitively obvious that no one ought to be penalized for failure-to-believe, and so atheism must be extended into practice. Naturally, the easiest practice to point to is the EVILS of insufficient worship, which is terribly convenient for the preacher.