Apostate Anger

Seeking Magic, Finding None

Thinking back, I realize that not long ago, I was still naïve. I knew that there were atheists and agnostics, but I imagined that most of them retained some smidgen of propriety. I had failed to apprehend how utterly irreverent some of these people could be; of the staggering certainty they must have possessed in order to behave in such ways. When I finally encountered these people, and was shocked at their libertine attempts to offend Christians, I also discovered that many of them had been raised in the church.

Although I was taken aback by my encounters with these people, one thing always seemed out of place: they appeared angry, not merely at the church, but at God himself. I must provide a caveat: I have always detested it when an onlooker, fancying himself a psychiatrist, says, “Ah, but the very thing he hates is the thing that he is.” I do not mean to patronize ex-Christians by suggesting that they secretly long for a connection to God (though I would neither suggest the opposite), but there is a very real sense in which these people appear to be angry at him for not existing.

It’s my belief that the irreverence of some people—not of those who live only to indulge themselves, unmindful of God, but of those who purposefully slander him—is a reaction to there being “no magic,” and perhaps even a challenge to a hypothetical god who would be so cold as to ignore them. Only the most intellectually dishonest atheist denies the possibility that some kind of god may exist, and of all these hypothetical gods, it seems that few would ignore such outright defiance.

It makes sense that a man, having long been prohibited from eating some fruit on account of its magical repercussions, might become obsessed with it. Discovering nothing potent about the fruit, he does not treat it as any other person might, but rather eats it in tremendous quantities, especially in front of those who had warned him about it. (It is simple irony, then, if he should fall ill and die from eating too much of it.)

The man was not eating the forbidden fruit because he took special pleasure in it. At first, it was forbidden by others. With time, he was upset that it had been forbidden at all. Finally, he perceived that those who had forbidden it—however wrong they may have been—had attached something divine to it.

Having found the divine nowhere else, one may begin searching endlessly in the place where it was presumed to be. The onlookers, when shown their folly, may still know something of the divine; they may have latent knowledge of its true nature, and its true whereabouts—and the divine, if existing by chance, may be so offended at the spectacle that it will reveal itself.

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4 Responses to “Apostate Anger”

  1. Stephanie Says:

    This is the attitude where one tries to spread a negative emotion on account of having felt it. I wonder why this tact is so well ingrained in human nature–and why we assume it will even work on the divine, as it does with others of our kind.

    “Ah, but the very thing he hates is the thing that he is.”–Perhaps that could be a descriptor here, but “The very thing he searches for is the thing he already prizes within himself” might also work, with, in this case, the “thing” being a kind of pride that lashes out. Dissatisfied with the divine we believe to be false, we attempt to recreate it in our own image any way we can.

  2. That’s a good point. Very explanatory. It would explain why ex-Christians mock the faith they have lost, rather than the people who gave it to them–the intent is to reproduce the same experience in others.

    I’m afraid I don’t quite understand your second paragraph. I was trying to avoid coming off as saying: “They lash out against God because they are longing for him,” which is a patronizing (and non-falsifiable) thing to say. Your substitute statement appears to be an assessment of the true motives of such people, rather than an accurate paraphrase of what I did not intend to say.

  3. Stephanie Says:

    Yes, you’ve got it, that’s exactly right. No paraphrase, but a different assessment with a similar relationship between two concepts. And, for the record, I know what you mean about how patronizing the original idea you shied away from can be.

    Even past trying to produce the same experience in others, I think perhaps that on some level, these people wish to see a god react to them as they have reacted to it–some sort of vindication to be had in it.

  4. I certainly believe that some “reaction” of this sort is sought, having nothing to do with people–but that’s why I wrote the post in the first place. I only felt the need to affirm the part that you pointed out, which I had not noticed…

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