Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Faith is Nonsense Part III: We see what we look for.

I was at a communications workshop about 10 years ago and I will never forget the lesson that I learned about what you are looking for and what you find.

The teacher explained that we would be learning the secrets to communicating effectively but before getting started he was going to show us a couple of pictures as examples.  So as he talked he went through a few photos on the screen - one of a snowy cabin, one of a creekside and another of a fireplace.  He was talking about how he likes to hunt and often will retreat to this cozy cabin in the woods.

When he finished he asked us if we saw the rabbit.

Rabbit?  What rabbit?  All I saw were cozy images of the place he was describing.  That was his point exactly - he was taking us down a road without us even knowing it.  He went back to the first photo explaining that we ought to be looking for a rabbit.  He even showed us a picture of a rabbit before exposing us to the photo for the second time.

There it was - it was laughable how all 300 of us missed it.  Literally it was 2/3 the size of the screen.  The first photo was of a snow rabbit hidden by the snow, but once he described what we were looking for it was impossible to miss.

That is because we see what we are led to see.  We are led by the things that we desire.  In essence, we see what we want to see.

The same is true of faith - we see what we want to see, no mistake about it.  If I were an atheist, this is the one point I would hammer home - we only see what we want to.

We want meaning (so that our lives have some sort of worth)
We want an afterlife (not just to continue the self after death, but to explain the inconsistencies on earth)
We want a God who cares (because we grew attached to caregivers growing up)
We want a right and a wrong (because it insures our personal safety and progress through life)

These are a few of the things that people of faith are looking for . . . so it is no wonder that they find it in the places of faith.  If I were an atheist, that is what I would argue - that these things are projections of what you really want and you find them in the places that you look for them.

But again, what does that say about the atheist who has discovered this?  What is the atheist looking for?  Remember that your skepticism must be 360 degrees - doubting your doubt.  So in the days to come we will look at these areas and see what we discover about true faith.  It's not what you think . . .


  1. John, I enjoyed the post and found several things to chew on. When you include "right and wrong" in your list of things that atheists assume Christians project onto God, are you saying that you view our internal morality as a function of self-preservation, or that atheists view it this way?

  2. Hi Leslie,

    If I were an atheist, I would argue that right and wrong are projections from a person who wants to control the environment by attributing right and wrong to some kind of external 'order' in the universe. It is a great equalizer and inhibits the stronger from taking what is mine. Right and wrong are then manipulative devices for the weak.


  3. Wow, if the book is as poorly thought out as his message last Sunday I would conclude that we know how he wrote it but the real question is why...