Last semester, I took a very terrible (but mandatory) class called Science and Religion. A lot of the class involved bashing atheism and the worldview of naturalism as well as taking Dawkins, Hitchens, and Sagan quotes out of context and pinning the men as proponents of scientism. One big thing that this class got wrong was that it assumed that all atheists are believers in the theory of multiple universes. While this certainly is one hypothesis to explain the complicated naturalist stumbling block of fine tuning and the anthropic principle of the universe, it is just that: a hypothesis, and definitely not one that all atheists believe is true.
You can do no good.
You are not worthy of love.
You should feel guilty for your constant sin.
Everything in your life has been laid out for you and you have no control over it.
Nothing you can say or do can get you into heaven.
There is a lot about Christianity that I don’t understand, from giving up your life in exchange for being spared eternal punishment, to LGBTQ+ discrimination, to not eating meat on Fridays during Lent, to Noah’s Ark. But one of the greatest mysteries to me is prayer. As people grow older, their prayers typically evolve from asking God for what you want to thanking God for what you have and asking him to guide you in the right direction. While the latter appears to be more selfless and appropriate, I can’t help but see it all as just silly.
A few months ago, some of my classmates got into a discussion about whether my college is really all that Christian. I’ve talked before about how I go to an oppressively Christian school that teaches Christian values, has mandatory chapel services, requires a letter of recommendation from a pastor for the undergrad application, and looks down on atheists and those of other beliefs. During this conversation, my Christian friends mentioned that it really wouldn’t be a big deal for a non-Christian student to attend. After all, other than attending chapel, we aren’t required to fast, read the bible, or go to bible study or church. “How bad can it be?” says the Christian student attending the Christian college.
I’m not going to be able to have this conversation with you until two years from now, but every day I wish I could tell you now. Whenever I see people and their parents, I’m jealous that they aren’t separated by a secret that if one of them knew, the other wouldn’t even know how to look at them anymore. You don’t know it, but every time I look at you, I feel guilt wash over me. You pay for me to go to college. You love me. You pray for me. And I feel as though I deserve none of it, because I don’t believe that you would love me in the same way if you knew who I really was.
Most of the time, when I hear the word “autonomy”, it’s being referred to as a negative thing. Almost everyone I know has a pretty steadfast “Jesus take the wheel” mindset. They let go of their worries, send up some prayers, and let God take care of the rest. It’s not their problem anymore, nor should it be. If something doesn’t work out, they simply say that it wasn’t in God’s plan for them and that when he closes one door, he opens another.
The idea of autonomy gives many Christians the impression that if they don’t give control to God, then they are playing god in their own lives. They have taken over the god-role and are assuming that they have that omnipotent amount of control and the freedom to do whatever they want. And putting yourself in God’s place is a way of idolizing yourself and your power, which of course goes against God’s very own ten commandments.
This, however, is not how I see autonomy. Continue reading “The Freedom of Autonomy”
We’ve all had those “talks” with our parents where they tell us to have a good attitude and be kind to others even when we don’t want to. Whenever I would have that talk with my mother, she would tell me to “act Christian.” I know that a large part of her reason for saying this is because, frankly, she believes that Christians are morally superior to non-Christians, but I like to think that there is another, better meaning behind this piece of advice. If the people I interact with know (or think they know) that I’m a Christian, then the way that I act will influence their perceptions of Christians and how Christians treat others.