Funny About Facebook
Arguing with theists on Facebook is usually like telling your grandmother how to set the digital clock on her microwave oven. No matter how carefully you give the directions, she ignores you and blathers on about the good ol’ days of wind-up watches and wood-burning stoves.
I try to resist those kinds of Facebook exchanges. I try to remember that I’m a solitary atheist surrounded by devoutly religious family and friends, remembering that their posts will naturally reflect the allegiance they pledge to God. I try to hang back and keep the peace.
I try. But every few weeks, the bubble bursts, and I snap.
Perhaps it's the constant messages on Facebook filled with syrupy bible-babble that goes completely and utterly unchallenged. I'm sure you see dozens of such messages every week, and you barely blink. And when someone like me holds up a finger with a fact-checkable example that there's a problem, I'm the angry one. I'm the troublemaker. Why can't we all just get along?
People keep the bible around like a decorative tchotchke with almost zero idea of what's in its pages. They thank God for meals planted and prepared by human hands. They pray for healing before paying thousands to trained (human) medical personnel. They indoctrinate their children to eschew scientific data in favor of the primitive writings of anonymous Bronze Age peasants. And especially in this part of the country, they're much more vocal than a single voice like mine could ever be.
So every once in awhile, amidst the rampant posts about God making pretty rainbows and prayers for Uncle Joe's chemotherapy and politicians who violate their own constitution by legislating prayer, I raise an inconvenient voice of protest.
This is no doubt why my personal friends list is in the mere double-digits. I've come out of childhood indoctrination and 30-years inside The Faith to become increasingly frustrated at religions which demand carte blanche and expect the skeptic to sit in the corner. And I post, verbatim, the inconvenient scriptures which endorse rape, describe giants and unicorns, condone slavery and infanticide, butcher history and sell tall tales of floating zoos and chariots of fire.
For this, I am called angry. A malcontent. A hater. They say, "What's your problem?" After all, my religious family and friends are simply celebrating their faith, and my interjections are poisoning the well. Why can't I just shut up?
It seems odd that the scrutiny falls upon me instead of the (instantly verifiable) scriptures I reference. But for the majority of the faithful, the bible is like a software license. They read the first few lines, scan the rest and click "I Agree." And then they bullhorn some cherry-picked, happy-clappy bible verses and insist that, if others truly love Jesus, they’ll “LIKE THIS PAGE AND HELP GET 1 MILLION LIKES BY THE END OF THE YEAR!!!”
By being the fly in the holy water, are my infidel posts part of the solution, or are they part of the problem? I’ve wrestled with this, and I’ve decided that my rare interjections should be tolerated if I am to abide the superstitious psychobabble regurgitated by the Bible Belt crowd. I do love my friends and family and appreciate their companionship, but if they’re allowed to pulpit preach from the Facebook podium, they must prepare themselves for the occasional salvo of opposing opinion, and when appropriate, have their poorly-researched claims held up to the white hot light of scientific scrutiny, hard data and common sense.
Will they listen? Will they receive and respect a counter-viewpoint? Will grandmother ever learn to program the digital clock? Probably not. But someone has to say something, or that damned LCD display will surely never advance, forever flashing 12:00…12:00…12:00…