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Questioning unbelief - is resistance futile (don't be a Borg)

I've had many conversations with people who say "I just don't believe it." At that point they are ready to walk away from our discussion fully convinced that is the end of the matter.


"What do you not believe?" I ask them. Surprised by my question they often reply "In God, of course."


So I ask them "which god do you not believe in?" People's faces are always interesting at this point. Some enjoy the banter, others are confused. The honest answer I get (with the exception of a very small number of militant atheists) is "do you know, I haven't really thought about that."


I have come to the conclusion that a lot of unbelief is actually quite lazy (it is going with the flow). A lot of it is completely assumed because of the culture of unbelief around us. A lot of people have been assimilated like Borg in the Star Trek franchise (resistance is futile). Our unbelief is often group think, a term used by social psychologist Irving L. Janis that refers to a psychological phenomenon in which people strive for consensus within a group. According to Psychology Today "In a groupthink situation, group members refrain from expressing doubts and judgments or disagreeing with the consensus. In the interest of making a decision that furthers their group cause, members may ignore any ethical or moral consequences." (source: www.psychologytoday.com/gb/basics/groupthink). Groupthink can happen with any idea or culture including places like the bible belt in the US so it is not restricted to atheism.


When I ask someone "which god do you not believe in?" I often find that they have a pick and mix god. With a lack of exposure to biblical teaching many people have a god-in-the-sky-sitting-on-clouds kind of god. Or a kindly grandfather figure, or a mean and angry capricious god more like the temperamental gods of the Greek pantheon who change day to day depending on the mood they are in.


I often say in reply "oh, that makes me an atheist too, then, because I don't believe in that god either." Richard Dawkins does an excellent job of reducing the God of the bible to Zeus or Hermes or the Flying Spaghetti Monster (a deity invented by Dawkins fan, Bobby Henderson in 2005 and the beginning of a new religion called Pastafarianism, which I think is a very clever and funny play on words, even if it is mocking and ridiculous). We make a god in our own image and then think we have explained this god away by our clever arguments. (If you want to find out more about how to counter such thinking check out scientist John Lennox at BeThinking - www.youtube.com/watch?v=6eHfhbP1K_4)


However most people (excluding the Dawkins groupies) have not thought about it. They don't realise that unbelief is as much a choice as belief. In fact unbelief is quite appealing because it doesn't take too much effort, just fall in with the crowd. Having to dig deep, get knowledge, make moral decisions and swim against the cultural tide are actually much harder work, so it does makes sense that the majority of people in the UK have opted for easy unbelief.


Yet the coronavirus is deeply uncomfortable for us all because we are forced out of our complacency. We have big questions, including "how do I pray in a time like this?" And that question alone makes us ask "which god do I pray to?" The Flying Spahagetti Monster is not very appealing when we are looking for a God who heals, or brings hope or who has power to genuinely change things.


When we discover the God of the bible we find that this God is compassionate, loving and involved. This God is hands on, getting his hands dirty in the shape of Jesus. This God has skin.


If you are a good news person, don't be afraid to ask questions like "which god do you not believe in?" I have found people quite enjoy the idea of pushing their thinking outside the box a little. We just have to do it with gentleness and respect. I have often found that people want answers to the big questions and if they were to believe in God they would choose a loving and hands on kind of God, so they are closer than they think. You might even enjoy yourself and have the incredible privilege of helping someone get nearer to life changing truth.








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