Have you ever tried to have a conversation about religion with a devout Christian only to find them completely unable to debate rationally? It seems no matter how many sound arguments you make or how many glaring contradictions you bring up, they still hold hard and fast to their beliefs and give you that “you are SO going to hell” condescending kind of look?
To me it seemed they would scoff in the face of obvious errors and contradictions and were singularly unwilling to entertain any counterpoint or other questioning of their faith and only seemed willing to engage in debate so as to have a forum for conversion. Well think I finally figured out the reason… They have to.
Unfortunately the Christians themselves have set this up from the beginning and it is ultimately the fuel that is firing their furor, their seemingly odd behavior and beliefs and their apparent inability to debate rationally.
Let’s go back to the beginning. Before Christians and Jews and Muslims, Gods were simply more powerful versions of humans. They laughed, they played, they ate ambrosia, they drank wine and they carried on (for you kids, this means screwing). Sometimes they would drink too much and destroy a town, other times they would see some hot babe or dude and anoint them with they godly favors (this also means screwing). Sometimes they would get pissed off at something you said or did and turn you into a goat or chain you to a rock so buzzards could peck out your liver or make you roll a rock up a hill for all eternity. They were jealous, showed favoritism and generally acted like spoiled children. This attitude of the gods and their frivolous behavior extended pretty much everywhere, from the Incas and The Maya to Babylon to Greece to China and Japan.
Then the Christians came along with their all-knowing, all-seeing, omni-everything God. Which if you are trying to overshadow a bunch of fallible pagan gods is a pretty good strategy. How do you compete with a god that knows everything and sees everything? That would be the best guy to have on your team, because the implication is that if your god created the heavens and the earth and the universe, then he also must have created all the gods and demons including Satan and would have supreme power over them. (which immediately brings up the whole question of if god is all powerful why does he allow blah blah blah blah blah – but that would be a logical question and thus does not apply here).
So how does this scenario create the whole Perfect God Syndrome. Well imagine this: if you believe that your god is a perfect being that is incapable of error or wrong doing or any other failing and your entire belief system is based on that, then imagine what would happen if you questioned it? The entire thing would come apart, since there can be no room for error with a god who is perfect. So, with this in mind, how would you react to questions or contradictions or anything contrary to the perfect god system? Deny, Rationalize, Deny.
They double screwed themselves with the idea that the bible is the divine word of god vs. a book of parables and teachings written by men – now you can’t question the bible either. All of this would be fine 2000 years ago before anyone could read the bible or talk with other people in any real capacity, but now we have mass printing, computers and the internet – the age of information has really put a damper on the perfect god – so deny, rationalize, deny.
Well, why not adapt the bible and the faith to fit modern times? The U.S. constitution is only a couple hundred years old and we already have almost 30 amendments along with a group of highly educated people whose sole purpose is to interpret and adapt the constitution to our times. Why not do this with Christianity, certainly it could use an upgrade after 2000 years, couldn’t it? Oops, Perfect God Syndrome again. An omnipotent being could easily craft a religion that would be just as applicable today as it was to middle eastern shepherds 2000 years ago. Thus to say that the religion or the bible needs tweaking means god is imperfect. So what’s the result? They cherry pick the scriptures they follow – like homosexuality is an abomination, but skip the part about not eating shrimp and shellfish or follow “thou shalt not kill” as it pertains to abortion and stem cell research, but skip the inconvenient commandment about keeping the Sabbath.
I’ll give them credit though, they HAVE been able to create a nice little Teflon screen that easily deflects logic or counter arguments that has made all this denial and rationalization possible.
Anything that would potentially be contradictory or questioning, they would simply consider as a test of their faith – sent by god, like he did to Job – thus they are immune to critically thinking about anything pertaining to their beliefs or belief system.
Ultimately this situation creates a pattern of behavior which forces the devout Christian to ignore anything contradictory and avoid any and all questions that they don’t have prepared answers for. Try it next time you come across one. You’ll get stock answers to questions and contradictions and when you probe deeper and exceed their programming, you’ll probably either get a lot of repeating of the pre-programmed answers or simply an end to the conversation and some derogatory under the breath comments finished with “I’ll pray for you”.
So in the end, there is no real discussion because ultimately you cannot have an honest debate with someone who has no ability to examine their point of view. Besides, when you come to the debate armed with the holy trump card of “no one can know the wisdom of god” where do you think you are going to get? Which is why no matter what happens they will always cling to their belief because to let go of it, they risk their entire belief system crumbling and if you have built your entire life around the church and your church friends and your church world – why do anything to risk it and either be ostracized or cut off completely?
We’ve all seen first hand the net result of this belief system. It’s the very same Perfect God Syndrome that fuels most of the religio-ethical debates. Take intelligent design. The rational person asks how someone could possibly believe in things like Noah’s Ark or 6-day creation, but now see this through the lens of Perfect God Syndrome. To even entertain the idea that life evolved through a natural process, takes God out of the equation. As such for a Christian to support evolution or other non god-centric science it puts them in the uncomfortable position of God not being involved. As a result they must come up with all sorts of nonsense to explain the contradictions and non-sequiters which is how you get support for 6-day creation despite mountains of geological information or crazy ideas that dinosaurs were only a few thousand years old and roam the earth with mankind. It is all a necessity because EVERYTHING is at stake. There is no line item veto or concession of the point – it’s all or nothing. You can’t have a perfect god running around with chinks in his armor, it just doesn’t work.
Either God is omnipotent and omniscient or he isn’t, there really isn’t a middle ground. As a result of this conundrum you have people who’s only recourse is to develop more and more complex denials and rationalizations so that their God stays intact – this is what causes Perfect God Syndrome. Unfortunately it’s only going to get worse as more and more science reveals historical evidence or lack therof and the secrets of the universe continue to be explained. The fact is that the further we go down this path the worse it will get, which is why Pope Eggs Benedict is so dead set against relativism. Relativism leads to questions and conditions which then lead to thinking. Absolutism provides inflexible and unquestionable directions so no thinking is needed. It’s also why we have such incredible polarization over religion. The more we learn, the less viable superstitions and controlling beliefs become, so in response, people get even more “faithful” and then start to use it as a defining characteristic.
This is how the Republicans managed to take over the country. By nominating themselves as God’s party with God’s chosen candidates and the keepers of the covenant and defenders of the faithful – a vote against them is a vote against God and what Christian would dare do that? But we can already see the damage that Perfect God Syndrome is causing for them. Why else would they have to fight so hard over Terri Schaivo so as to make a well-respected and learned doctor like Bill Frist come out with something so obviously bogus as his “diagnosis?” How else can you explain rational people flouting a life changing breakthrough like stem cells because it goes against God? This syndrome is so dangerous because it sets up a mental condition where reality and rationality are routinely ignored for religion, so it becomes increasing easy for that mentality to spill over into other aspects of life.
The irrational and non-sensical thinking that allows someone with Perfect God Syndrome to function in a fantasy land is the same one that keeps a person from seeing Iraq as a quagmire or admitting mistakes or taking responsibility. As a result you get continual slippery slope that people are more than willing to belly surf down. In the end, since no self-respecting Christian would or truly could question their faith, no amount of evidence, science, rational thinking or logic will help. The only really viable action is to try and catch as many people who are still questioning before they go past the point of no return, and for the rest, the only option is to wait it out until the entire system crashes under it’s own illogical weight.
Originally posted on The Rudicus Report