God-botherers or Bible-bashers?

Last night, I got a few angry emails after I wrote on Twitter that some visiting relatives were “Bible-Bashers”. I’m happy to accept I’m wrong; they are “God-Botherers” who enjoy going to church but otherwise don’t mention it to people who don’t share their views. There’s a difference.

“Bible-bashers” are those who feel the need to spread their views to others. It’s a term that comes from the religious pamphlets of the English Civil War of the seventeenth century, describing aggressively religious people.

To find out which you are, take this handy quiz:

  1. Do you believe you have an Invisible Friend In The Sky? (Yes=1 point, No= 0)
  2. After spending a few days creating the billions of stars in the billions of galaxies that fill the awe-inspiring majesty of the universe, does your Invisible Friend In The Sky now spend its time closely monitoring your daily actions and reading your thoughts? (Yes=2 point, No= 0)
  3. Does your Invisible Friend In The Sky care which adults you have consensual sexual intercourse with? (Yes=5 points, No= 0)
  4. Is your Invisible Friend In The Sky eternal, beyond the laws of causality and entropy and undetectable by science? (Yes=1 point, No= 0)
  5. Does your Invisible Friend In The Sky regularly intercede in the material world on your behalf (good grades, safe journeys, speedy recoveries) because you ask it to? (Yes=1 point, No= 0)
  6. Does your Invisible Friend In The Sky routinely neglect to help blameless people caught up in calamities like genocide, war, famine, earthquakes or tsunamis because it “works in mysterious ways” (or other manifestations of inscrutability)? (Yes=5 points, No= 0)
  7. Does your Invisible Friend In The Sky require subordinate behaviour from women such as covering their hair, wearing shapeless garments, not being allowed to teach in places of worship or hacking off each others’ external genitalia at puberty? (Yes=10 points, No= 0)
  8. Does your Invisible Friend In The Sky require you to tell people with a different Invisible Friend In The Sky (or no Invisible Friend In The Sky) that they are wrong? (Yes=10 points, No= 0)
  9. Does your Invisible Friend In The Sky think it legitimate or laudable to kill people with a different Invisible Friend In The Sky? (Yes=20 points, No=0)
  10. Are you angered/ offended by this quiz? (Yes=5 points, No=0)

If you scored zero, you are not a God-Botherer.

Between one and five, you might be but don’t know it; you probably tell people that you’re “a spiritual person”.

Between five and ten, you’re a God-Botherer.

More than 10 makes you a Bible-Basher. 20 or more and you’re a fundie.

14 Responses to “ God-botherers or Bible-bashers? ”

Comment by Bruce

@Paul:

If every God-botherer had the humour and good grace (no pun intended) that you have Paul, the world would have been a different and much happier place.

You’re correct – the quiz is designed to poke fun at Religious People rather than christians or other people with faith like my missus and her rellies. (I very much understand the difference).

My rellies’ church does prevent women “teaching” and it bothers me that my daughter is being told she is subordinate to any random man who’s on the rota to preach that week, simply because of gender. I’m pleased to report that their Invisible Friend in The Sky (IFITS) doen’t require female circumcision, however — but many IFITSs *do* require genital mutilation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female_genital_cutting

On the question of gender – why do you think your IFITS is a “he”. (Not trying to get all medieval, but genuinely curious. As there is, presumably, only one IFITS for Abrahamic religions, how can it be male or female?) It occurs to me that one reason for most religion’s subordination of women is that God and Jesus/ Mohammed are men so that’s the more godly sex.

As someone who married into a church-going community, my snarky quiz picks on the things that most irk me about all religions: the notion that the creator of an entire universe is now a petty book-keeper who tallies up fleeting angry or lustful thoughts and counts how often one eats pork/ beef/ alcohol seems absurd to me. I also reject the idea that any one’s private and consensual sex life is any kind of public business.

Nice response, and thanks for it.

Comment by Matt Wilcox

I’m with Bruce on this one.

Let people do/be/believe what they want, as long as they do not foist their world view on anyone else.

For me, that should include a ban on the indoctrination of children into a religious belief system (wholly unrealistic, I know). If people under 16 aren’t experienced enough to be able to consent to anything (sex, smoking, drinking, etc), then they likewise aren’t experienced enough to pick apart religion and make a rational decision for themselves. I’d like to see religion taught at all schools, but from a completely unbiased perspective, and I’d like religious organisations banned from taking in people under 16. Blind belief can be as dangerous to people and society as anything else I can think of.

Comment by Lars Gunther

Paul has already said what was on my mind. I would however like to ask this:

Re: “I also reject the idea that any one’s private and consensual sex life is any kind of public business.”

I do not really understand why you use the word “public” for a (wo-)man’s dealings with God, but nevertheless:

1. Do you still believe it if the consensual sex is in fact an act of adultery?

2. I would presume that you are talking about adults here, but where do you draw the line between adult and child?

3. Do you still believe it if it is in fact incestuous? Such sex do exist even if it is very rare in our culture. In Ancient Egypt it was seen as an ideal…

I could go on. My only point is that every person I know actually do think sex could be wrong even if it is consensual. It is only a question about what lines you draw and why.

Comment by Paul Boag

@Bruce – re: the gender of God. I do think of God as male but intellectually I know that isn’t probably a fair description. For a start I don’t believe God the Father (e.g. not Jesus) is necessarily coporial in the sense we know it. As a result he probably doesn’t have gender.

That said, I don’t like the idea of God being referred to as an IT. It implies an object or a force which I do not believe God is. I believe God has intelligence and consciousness which its do not generally have. It is a mental construct that helps me, nothing more.

@Matt – I disagree with your comments about children (at least in terms of a family relationship). I don’t want the government legislating what I can or cannot say to my child. Also I want to be able to take my child to church because I want him to be exposed to the spiritual. As we live in a non-christian country here in the uk (only 6% church attendance) I know he will hear enough other opinions to counter balance my beliefs. He is already being told his daddy is a liar.

@Lars – I would love to discuss your questions but I don’t believe here is the place. Sorry.

Comment by Bruce

Hi Lars,

I say “public” as church/ temple/ mosque/ synagogue is a group of people, and thus “public”.

1. Yes.
2. The key issue is “consenting”; children cannot consent. I draw the line at 16, which is the legal age of consent in the UK.
3. Incestuous sex is a tricky one, and taboo in most societies (although different societies have different ideas of what constitutes incest). But who is the victim?

@Paul

I agree with your not wanting the government legislating what I can or cannot say to my child.

I’m also happy for my kids to be taken to church; I don’t believe my view is infallible and they should be exposed to all kinds of different viewpoints and encouraged to balance them up and judge for themselves. (That’s kind of what parenting is about, imo).

He is already being told his daddy is a liar.

Ouch. That’s sad.

Comment by Matt Wilcox

@Paul

I’m all for kids being taught about the spiritual, it gives a good understanding of other people and promotes tolerance of other viewpoints. What I’m not into is the idea of convincing a child that any particular spiritual belief is “the right one”, which is why I find a big difference between being taught about religion and being indoctrinated into religion.

In many cases being a kid in a religious family is fine and a kid will grow up, learn to question what they’ve been led to believe, and make their own choices. But, that’s not always the case. I have first hand experience of the shit-storm it can cause, and for what?

Comment by Michael Kozakewich

Unfortunately, there’s not much one can do when it’s a choice of alienating one’s parents.
It would really help for all people to gain a more humanist mindset. Things like not killing people they disagree with, and not making life-altering choices for their (or others’) children. If they had that, then religion wouldn’t be so bad.

Comment by Pete

I feel that Groowy has listed his beliefs and, effectively, non-beliefs fairly adequately. Black is black and white is white. But it does strike me that anyone can make these obvious statements.

People get through the day, the only way they know how. If some people need to have a focul point, then so be it. To feel the necessity to point out the scientific obvious is not really helping those that find solace in their beliefs.

Let and let live! I am happy that you are clever, and have your own scientific views. Bruce is a non believer, and I respect the whole topic, but for a non-believer, you seem to have a “holier than thou” attitude.

I, by the way, am not religious, but find you and your posting, quite sad. You surely must realise that not everyone is born with your interlect, reasoning and powers of deduction.

Leave people alone.

Comment by Derek Rogers

I especially like your reference to the universe. It would be roughly comparable to creating the entire planet Earth in order to keep one ant farm somewhere on a remote hill.