This article isn’t actually specific to religion, or challenging religious beliefs. Rather, it uses the example of Christianity to help you think more critically about what your behaviour tells you about your subconscious beliefs.
There are two types of beliefs that we’re exploring here. The beliefs you think you have, made up of thoughts in your mind and claims you make to other people. And the beliefs you actually have, as demonstrated by the way you act on a daily basis.
Who we really are is only really measurable by our actions. Thoughts and feelings might promise one thing while our behaviour delivers something else, and because our behaviour is the end-product of our decision-making, it shows us the truth about who we’ve decided we should be.
So, using Christianity as an example, let me show you why I believe most Christians are actually atheists and why most of us don’t actually believe what we think we do.
You take safety precautions
According to Christian scripture, God has a plan for us all. That means, if He wants you to die, there’s nothing you can do to stop it, and it’s what He wishes to happen. So why would you wear a seatbelt, or get treatment for your cancer? If you really believe God has a plan, you wouldn’t bother trying to interfere with it.
When you say you trust someone, but then take precautions and plan for contingencies, it means you don’t really trust or believe in them.
You grieve for lost loved ones
According to the Bible, good Christians go to Heaven when they die, a place that is far superior to anything they could ever hope to experience on Earth. This is like your loved one going on the best holiday ever, but a million times better even than that!
Why would you be sad that they’ve gone through this experience? Why aren’t Christian funerals a wildly happy celebration?
Why do you put seatbelts on your children and stop them playing near the edge of a cliff? That’s a bit selfish! You’re delaying their entry into Heaven and only increasing the risk that they’ll become a sinner before they die.
Whether you truly care for something or someone is shown by how you react to losing them… and how you react to their successes. If you are angry, sad, or devastated by them having a success, then you don’t really believe it was good for them, or you don’t really care for their happiness.
You procrastinate on reading/studying the Bible
It hurts my mind how often I discover that a Christian friend of mine has read less of the Bible than I have. As it turns out, it appears that a vast majority of Christians learn scripture from interpretations they’re given by priests and public figures, so their faith is really in those people rather than in God Himself.
I think there’s a strong correlation between the amount of the Bible that you’ve read and the likelihood of you leaving the Church. I think Christians avoid reading the Bible because they know that if they did, they would lose faith due to its contradictions and mistruths.
We often say that we are interested in or enthusiastic about something. If you say that you’re passionate about something but you never really get into it action-wise, then you’re not really passionate about it.
You use double-standards to explain beliefs
I saw this one the other day – “If a house is proof of a builder, the Creation is proof of a Creator”. The irony with this Christian argument is that you could take it a step further and say that God is proof of a God-creator, and go on and on in an endless line of Gods creating Gods.
Christians often are happy to apply logic to dispel atheism and yet reluctant to apply the same logic to their own arguments.
When you judge what you love by more lenient standards than what you hate, it shows that you’re not really interested in the truth. It means you’re more interested in maintaining your belief even if it’s wrong.
I think praying is one of the most contradicting behaviours of the faithful, because of what I mentioned earlier about God’s plan. Sure, He hears your prayers, but the plan is already laid out. He’s not going to change it for you, so why are you asking?
We say things are a good idea, yet we never do them. We say other things are stupid, yet we repeatedly engage in those actions. Our behaviour shows what we want to do.
You avoid critical ideas
I’ve been guilty of this one myself: sticking within my own silo of information and avoiding what the naysayers think.
It’s incredibly rare for a Christian to venture into a mosque or science lecture to see what unbelievers think. If you really felt that you had strong faith, why would you be scared to hear other ideas? Wouldn’t they merely strengthen your faith?
Or are you worried that someone might change your mind?
When we avoid critical feedback and stick with people or ideas that agree with us, it’s a sign that we’re not really invested in truth or personal growth. It means we’d rather stay the same than improve.
You shame Jesus with your actions
WWJD? I’ve always been amazed by Christian protesters throwing rocks at women going into abortion clinics. Jesus wouldn’t have done that! Jesus never once said anything in the Bible specifically against abortion. He certainly wouldn’t have thrown rocks at pregnant women.
And yet Jesus threw the money-lenders out of the temple. Still, plenty of Churches and evangelists and high profile Christians shamelessly grift their flock for money and flaunt their excessive cash, with some becoming well known for their extraordinary wealth, private planes, and reluctance to give to the poor.
Many of us state we align with a certain noble cause or belief system, yet our everyday actions betray us. We say we’re generous but we ignore homeless beggars. We say we’re kind but we yell at our children. We say we’re honest but our boss doesn’t know that we want to quit.
Take it easy…
As I said, this isn’t really an attack on Christians. Indeed, if you really are a true person of faith, then none of these points will make you uncomfortable or defensive because you wouldn’t relate to any of the behaviours I’m calling out.
I don’t mind someone being religious. My wife is Catholic and I never hold that against her or even challenge her beliefs. I’ll happily drive her to Church and wait while she prays. So we can see through my behaviour that my true belief is I’m supportive of religious people practicing their faith.
This article is merely to indicate how hypocritical and dishonest we can be, evidenced when comparing our stated beliefs with our actual behaviour.
You can’t truly know yourself and grow into a person you’d be proud of until you’re first truthful with yourself about who you really are right now.