Mocking the "Sky Fairy," or How Not to Convert Me to Atheism
Friday, February 8, 2013Tweet
I read a lot of blogs, and I find that most blogs attract communities around them that are similarly minded to the blogger(s). So Christian blogs like mine tend to have mostly Christian readers, along with some people who are at least open to and/or tolerant of the Christian faith. Gay rights blogs attract people who care about gay rights, and so on.
Then there are those times when a post goes viral and starts drawing in readers and commenters from all over the place.
I saw this happen most recently when Justin Lee's post on the "tipping pastor" incident went viral and was eventually re-posted on the Huffington Post. (He has a great follow-up post here.) And when a post about Christianity starts getting lots of comments by non-Christians, it's only a matter of time before someone uses the opportunity to make derisive comments about faith in general. This often comes in the form of a sarcastic quip about the "sky fairy" or some other dismissive name for God.
Look -- you're totally allowed to believe what you want. It's a free country. But don't make yourself look like an idiot while trying to imply that you're too "enlightened" to believe in God.
Making a "sky fairy" comment doesn't make you come off as superior or more intelligent, except perhaps among your friends who also draw their self-worth from thinking about how smart they are for being atheists. It just makes you sound ignorant and close-minded, revealing your narrow worldview in which explanations other than your own are always wrong. You are operating under a closed system of Truth in which you must deride or ignore anyone's experiences that don't fit into your model of the world.
In that way, you're very similar to those whose religious worldview is so fixed that they feel they must sarcastically mock things like evolution, rather than seeking to understand why someone might believe in it, or else risk having their entire concept of Truth shattered.
Other than trying to make yourself sound enlightened, what exactly are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to convince me that my faith is wrong? "Wow, you're right, my faith in God sounds so silly when you put it like that, therefore I am going to immediately stop believing everything."
Trying to get people to see the error of their ways by putting it in overly simplistic terms works about as well for converting people to atheism as it does for converting people to Christianity. I don't know anyone who has been shamed-and-preached-at into suddenly becoming a Christian, nor do I know anyone who has been sarcastically mocked into becoming an atheist.
I think the biggest reason the "sky fairy" comments bother me is that they flagrantly conflate Christians and Christianity.* So in the case of Justin's post, which was about Christians being bad at showing Christ's love to the world, the kind of comments I'm describing tried to imply that you can't expect anything more from people who are stupid enough to believe in God in the first place.
But the fact that we fall short of the standard set by our religion doesn't tell you anything about the veracity of that religion itself. And people who are rude or make stupid mistakes are by no means limited to Christianity. It would make equally little sense to say of an atheist who did something stupid, "Well, what do you expect from someone who doesn't believe in God?" The truth or falsehood of our religious system is not dependent upon the actions of those who adhere to it.
In short, I don't think these comments accomplish much of anything short of making the commenter feel better about themselves and their close-minded view of the world. They certainly don't make me think anything positive about the commenter, nor cause me to re-examine my own beliefs.
Do you know the kind of comments I'm talking about? What is your reaction to them?
*Christianity is, of course, not the only religion with a God and therefore not the only one attacked by ridiculing belief in a higher power, but it's the one in this particular example and most often the context in which I see these comments being made.