Monsters Under the Bed

The Boogey-Man used to live in my closet. When I was a child I was afraid of a lot of things, I also believed in a lot of things that I now see as being unreal. I remember coming to my parents afraid that ghosts were haunting my room, that monsters were under the bed, or that I was going to be abducted by aliens. And my parents would do their best to allay those fears by saying things like "there's no such thing as ghosts" or "Monsters aren't real". The most curious thing of all were the attempts to bury my irrational fear beneath irrational courage with comments like "nothing can harm you, God has given his angels charge over you."

When I was a kid I had a guardian angel, or so I was told and that guardian angel answered to God and thus could never fail to protect me. Most people who defend religion against anti-theistic atheists like myself make claims about religion offering comfort and hope. When I was a kid I was instilled with that false courage, or at least my parents tried to instill me with these irrational beliefs about angels and a God protecting me. Despite their attempts I was still afraid.

I look back and have to laugh and yet I shake my head in disappointment. Countering one mindless superstition with another. Anyone who's spent more than a few years in reality knows beyond a doubt that there is no such thing as a guardian angel. Bad stuff happens all the time. Maybe it doesn't always happen to you but if you go to bed after watching the news believing in angels I firmly believe there is something wrong with you. How many hungry children will die tonight wishing that such beliefs were actually true? How many children are lulled into security because their parents taught them that nothing bad could happen because of angels.

For the most part my parents didn't want me to be afraid and for that I cannot fault them. No loving parent wants their child to fear the imaginary... Unless of course that imaginary thing is God. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom I was always told. I was never sure why I was meant to be afraid of someone who loved me unconditionally. To be scared of someone who dispatched battle-hardened angels to protect me from Satan, to protect me from everything. That's where Hell comes in.

Yes Hell. My parents were sure to inform me that Hell was real but the boogey-man in the closet, there was no such thing. The aliens coming to wipe my memory and perform experiments were just figments of my imagination manifest by one too many episodes of the X-Files before bed but Hell, a burning fiery place of never-ending torment, that was real. Maybe most modern Christians escape childhood without having to fear God but for me there was no such luck.

The irony is so glaring that it's laughable and yet as I grew older I grew out of all sorts of beliefs. Santa, who I only believed in briefly as a child, was the first to go, for like the boogey-man and the aliens my parents were sure to explain that Santa wasn't real. A supernatural being associated with December 25 who would punish the naughty and reward the nice and who could perform miracles - who would believe such nonsense? No, in my house Santa took a back seat to an even more implausible denizen of December 25th, Jesus Christ and my parents made sure that he was portrayed as absolutely real while Santa went the way of the boogey-man.

There was Heaven to and for a child the only thing scarier than Hell is Heaven. You're already knew to the world and just gaining an understanding of all that goes on, of all you will be obligated to do as you grow up. On top of that you have an obligation to get into Heaven and once there you'll be happy. I was never happy with the idea of Heaven though, it sounded scary, it sounded foreign and cold. Streets of gold and walls bejeweled and giant mansions for everyone to live. As a child I would stare up into the sky afraid that God would return and whisk me away. I was perplexed when others around me rejoiced at the prospect of flying through the air, getting heavenly bodies and going to a heavenly city to spend FOREVER doing whatever the hell it was people did in Heaven.

I am happy to say that for well over a year now my closet has been free of boogey-men and not just the ones your parents tell you are fictional but also the ones they unwittingly lie about. My mind is swept clean of imaginary friends and thus all that fear, all that anxiety and all that dangerous false courage and faux hope is now a thing of the past. People often ask why some atheists even bother discussing religion and belief in God.

Consider us the ghost busters, we're here to sweep the world of ghouls and gods and in the process leave it better equipped to face the real world. Quite frankly I've grown tired of being told I'm wrong, rude or insulting just for informing people that magic men in the sky are imaginary. At times I've even been polite and asked for evidence, asked people to show that their deity is real but despite all their coaxing all they can offer is logical fallacies, anecdotes and apologetics. Like a kid desperately trying to explain to his parents just how real the monster he thought he saw under the bed was who makes excuses when they both peer under the bed and see nothing.


"Of course he's not there now, the light is on! Monsters can't come out in the light!"

I might have argued something like this to my parents and in general many religious arguments aren't more sophisticated than this though they generally take the form of

"Of course he won't appear to you, YOU don't believe."

This may sound insulting, this may sound arrogant, this may sound like I'm patronizing you believers out there, but shut the light off and go to bed, your Monster doesn't exist.

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Comments 23 comments

Stump Parrish profile image

Stump Parrish 5 years ago from Don't have a clue, I'm lost.

Carlin is probably my all time favorite comic. He sure made growing up in the 70's a hell of a lot of fun. Peace, enjoyed the read.


Titen-Sxull profile image

Titen-Sxull 5 years ago from back in the lab again Author

Thanks Stump, I love Carlin too, just wish he was still with us. His career lasted so long I can easily say that he made growing up in the 90s and 00s a hell of a lot of fun as well.


AntonOfTheNorth profile image

AntonOfTheNorth 5 years ago from The Land Up Over

"Quite frankly I've grown tired of being told I'm wrong, rude or insulting just for informing people that magic men in the sky are imaginary."

If you are growing tired of this, you've already lost in your efforts to sweep the world of gods and ghouls.

Those that wish to say to you that you are wrong, rude or insulting will never grow tired of that, as long as they believe it to be true. You will need to be at least as tenacious.

". . .just for informing people that magic men in the sky are imaginary"

Your issue here is that theists don't disagree with that statement. They just don't equate their version of god with a magic man in the sky. You do. It is therefore easy to dismiss that statement, so they will not listen to you.

I only say this because clearly you've given this a great deal of thought, done the research and make some very valid points. I just think you are weakening, not strengthening your position by not understanding that it is not just superstition to a theist, it is superstition to you. To them, you are being hopelessly narrow in your worldview, because rationality is all you will accept.

Now, why am I saying 'they' when clearly I believe in god?

Because I agree with your viewpoints on religion. I would even help you 'phase it out' as you've mentioned previously.

but I think the approach in this article will solidify the opposing position against you, not cause it to reconsider, to understand and possibly to change.

And I think that would be a shame, because you make very valid points.

Of course all of this is just my opinion. I do value your commitment, and if you really believe this is the way, you can't get tired of others' opinions. They will keep coming.

The opposing position will always react negatively to being referred to as 'childish', 'mindless' and 'superstitious', the same way you do to being referred to as 'wrong' 'rude' or 'insulting'.

For what its worth, with respect.

cheers


Titen-Sxull profile image

Titen-Sxull 5 years ago from back in the lab again Author

I see your points Anton and I've heard much to the same effect from atheists as well as theists. I guess I'm kinda tired of using language that enables believers to have their superstitions on an equal playing field with reality. Normally I go into a discussion leaving the door wide open for the possibility of gods for agnosticism's sake but this tends to backfire. There's no use telling someone who believes there's a monster in their closet that it MIGHT exist but there's no good evidence.

If reasoning with them won't work perhaps its time to just tell them these things aren't real. Like children many of them won't understand at first why we deny their superstitions but eventually maybe they will mature beyond the need for the boogey-man.

At this point I'm willing to try both ridiculing beliefs and attempting to reason with people, there is only so much we can do before we have to leave it up to them to grow out of these beliefs.


Stump Parrish profile image

Stump Parrish 5 years ago from Don't have a clue, I'm lost.

I understand antons comments and they do make a lot of sense. I have quit trying to prove the beliefs of christians wrong. This is a no win situation. I have begun trying to get them to support their claims and justify their beliefs. Most christians I come across have no idea what's really in the bible thay they claim to base their lives on. They refuse to admit that the simple fact that the bible has been translated numerous times has to indicate that there are mistranslations. By making them support their beliefs you put them on the defense and most are ill equipped to explain their beliefs. Most will still refuse to admit that most of the christian religion is nothing more than a rehashing of the pagan religions that preceded it. There is ample evidence to support this and again you can force them to back up their beliefs.

You will also be suprised at the support you will occasionally get from some christians who are aware of the facts you present. I'm not sure where you live but here in the bible belt, most people can't think their way thru an open door. Their is no way they will accept anything that differs from their cherished beliefs. Use their religion against them instead of attacking them. It is at least worth a try, what do you have to lose. You seem like you have an above average level of intelligence and simply need to realize that most of those you argue with don't even know how to think for themselves. Peace. not tryint to tell you what to do here, simply offering an alternative approach. Peace my friend and keep on giving the hell, lol


Baileybear 5 years ago

@stump - what is an example of using their religion against them as opposed to attacking? I think it is futile to expect to change a believer's mind.


Stump Parrish profile image

Stump Parrish 5 years ago from Don't have a clue, I'm lost.

Bailey, I enjoy asking them to show what the basis for their beliefs are. Most of these are predictable based on the subject being discussed. It doesn't take long to figure out what these are. Most christians are familiar with a limited number of passages and most of these are used to attack a group the dislike. I agree that it is at best a waste of time but I have had a few more intelligent conversations this way. I have even begun to get support from some christians once they realize I have more to offer than just an attack on their beliefs. I doubt I have changed anyones mind about their beliefs but I have developed a few christian friends that can carry on an intelligent conversation about religion with this strategy. All I'm saying to titan is it's worth a try. The only thing he will lose is some time and some frustration. lol.

One example, and I'm not promoting my hubs for the sake of promotion is, the one about what it takes to be considered a christian. I have actually gotten support from christians against other christians in this one. Good to hear from you bailey, I enjoyed some of our conversations before I abandoned the forums awhile back. Peace my friend and hope today's a great one for you.


Stump Parrish profile image

Stump Parrish 5 years ago from Don't have a clue, I'm lost.

Bailey, as an example take homosexuality. Most use the ot for the basis of there condemnation. I have had a few state that the OT is to be disregarded. I had a christian point out to me that jesus supposedly stated that all the laws in the OT are to be obeyed. I forget the passage that stated this and that has to do with the second bowl I smoked when the first one didn't put me in the mood to sleep.


Baileybear 5 years ago

thanks, Stump. I am currently writing a blog about my views on christianity/religion etc. I do try to ask people in the forums why they believe what they believe, with some surprising results. Sometimes though, it's just pretty frustrating


Stump Parrish profile image

Stump Parrish 5 years ago from Don't have a clue, I'm lost.

I know what you mean about the frustration, If I quit arguing with them I could save a fortune on my green medication for nerves and blood pressure, lol


Baileybear 5 years ago

well that's why I've started a blog - I'm getting tired of arguing on the forums


Titen-Sxull profile image

Titen-Sxull 5 years ago from back in the lab again Author

I agree Stump that asking them to justify their beliefs can at least get them thinking about it and it's something I have done from time to time in discussions. I think there is room for numerous techniques to get people thinking. Sometimes it all feels like a lost cause though which is I guess what spawned this hub, that perhaps its best to leave some believers with the information that their god is another monster in the world's closet and let them grow out of it on their own.


Baileybear 5 years ago

My aim is to get people thinking. The deeply indoctrinated believer does not engage in rational, independent thinking, so I don't bother trying to deconvert them.


AKA Winston 5 years ago

Titen-Sxull,

Good hub, well constructed.

Best to keep in mind no one can change another person - all we can do is present the evidence. Instead of saying, "this is childish thinking", it may be better to simply say, "similar to the way a child thinks about...", and that way the reader/listener draws his own conclusion that the action/thought/belief is childish.

Or as George Carlin said, What if there were no hypothetical questions?


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 5 years ago from Oakley, CA

BINGO! AMEN! Voted up. What? No "right on, brother" button???

Great hub! But, reading the comments of the folks who stated that the religious don't want to be educated or 'convinced,' I am reminded of the saying, "a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still."

The thing is, as my husband (who holds a Master's degree in Social Science) points out, people seem to be unable to stand on their own two feet, and need or want that 'crutch' that we call religion and its teachings.

Ironically, he is also a licensed minister, WHO DOES NOT PRACTICE, precisely BECAUSE of the things he learned in seminary school--his ethics will not let him teach/preach what he knows to be false doctrine.


AntonOfTheNorth profile image

AntonOfTheNorth 5 years ago from The Land Up Over

@Titen

"...using language that enables believers to have their superstitions..."

But you don't enable their superstitions. They don't think they are being superstitious. And they believe no matter what language you use. (I know I'm flogging the proverbial dead horse here, but I think its important).

"Like children many of them won't understand at first why we deny their superstitions "

There's another one. you've called a believer who is reading your article a child. They will not listen to you respectfully if that is what you are saying.

"using their religion against them as opposed to attacking?"

This is never successful. It implies that faith is rationally derived. It is not. Making a rational case against the position of any religion is doomed in the attempt to change the mind of someone who holds that belief from a non-rational source. Arguing that there is no proof for their faith is only making their point. It never works.

aka winston is correct. Changing a person starts with that person. But if you hope to influence someone's journey, you have to come to them on their terms.

In theatre we have an axiom: The audience is always correct.

If I, in performance, think I am being cool and the audience thinks I'm being slimy, they are correct. Why? Because only I have the control to change their opinion of me. In theatre, I have set the rules of my discourse. If they don't understand me, or think I'm being rude and I don't want them to think that, it does no good to say, 'well, you're just being childish,' or 'you're not thinking correctly'. I have to change what I am doing to get the results that I want.

So, Titen, what do you want from this article. Do you wish to state your view? Congratulations (sincerely). You have expressed yourself well, with good writing.

Do you want me to change how I see the world? (assuming I'm the religious critter you are after). In that case, no, this would not make me change my mind. It might make me challenge your statements, but more likely I would simply move to one of the Christian hubs to find someone who believed as I do and comment to them.

This will get comments from those who believe as you do and respect the way you are saying it.

It will not change the number of people who don't agree with you.

Just my opinion

cheers


Baileybear 5 years ago

Lizzy - would be interesting to read a blog or hubs by your husband about that


emichael profile image

emichael 5 years ago from New Orleans

Anton has correctly demonstrated the crux of the argument that I have never been able to get around when talking with atheists and agnostics. They will ONLY argue from the standpoint of THEIR interpretation of reasonable, rational thought. Whether you agree or not, the God of Christians DEFIES human logic. So when you start with the insults, the conversation ends. It makes you look a little childish yourself (for our point of view).

You and I have already gone down this road, Titen, so I don't mean to belabor the issue. I just wanted to comment that Anton has articulated the issue I was having a hard time doing.

My only hope is that one day you find it in yourself to be a little more open minded and try to understand where we are coming from and why these types of arguments get nowhere.

But I will also agree with Anton that this is a well articulated argument. So, in that regard, Kudos.


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

Have you ever tried to convince a friend to quit smoking? They believe smoking cigarettes is beneficial to them. No amount of proof will convince them that smoking is bad. Perhaps one day they will take a drag off a smoke and it will send them into a coughing fit so bad that they cough up blood. Then, and only then, will they see personal harm in smoking. Even then, they won't quit. Even when they get lung cancer they won't quit. Their brains are addicted.

That is the way of religion. Until each individual sees for themselves the harm of it they will continue to practice their religious beliefs.

Like you, Titen, I used to think that heaven was a horrible place too. A big giant false hope dream that someone once had. Streets paved with gold indeed. Did you notice that the people who said this crap went into some sort of trance-like state when they repeated this story for the umpteenth time? The glaze that comes over their eyes? That scared me more than anything else. People go mindless when they talk of religion. It's like they're hypnotized or something. And they always repeat the same old lines. Weird.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 5 years ago from Oakley, CA

@Baileybear--such a blog post would be dictated by him; written by me. LOL... he says he did enough writing for 2 lifetimes in getting through college and writing his master's thesis. Besides, high IQ notwithstanding, he is spelling and grammar challenged. I am the English major and writer in the family.

That said, I can certainly put up some posts on what he learned, and link to my blog for the details.. ;-) Thanks for the suggestion.

(With apologies to Titen-Sxull for using his comments capsule for a side conversation.)


AKA Winston 5 years ago

The difficulty in talking to a believer is that the believer has adopted confirmation bias as an ally. Dr. William Lane Craig, noted Christian apologist, in his book Reasonable Faith, stated (paraphrased here) that if the holy spirit conflicts with reason and evidence, then it is reason and evidence that should take a back seat.

I think it is important to let believers hear that statemement. After which, it does no good to say how stupid a statement it is, but it may do some good to say something like, "With that one declaration, Dr. Craig has just given a pass to the nurderous actions of people like David Koresh and Jim Jones, who were also certain they were following the guidance of the holy spirit."

From my experience, only cognitive dissonance can chip away long enough to break apart dogmatic beliefs. And the way to introduce cognitive dissonance is with repeated evidence that conflicts with religion.

If you attack religion, the religious get defensive. If you simply point out its contradictions, the believer either has to come up with an excuse (rationalize) or suffer with doubt (cognitive dissonance.)


Titen-Sxull profile image

Titen-Sxull 5 years ago from back in the lab again Author

@emichael

"So when you start with the insults, the conversation ends."

When I compare God and Santa or God and the boogey-man I'm not doing it to be insulting. I'm aware that many Christians will feel insulted by it however but I think that if they truly compare the two beings they will understand why I make the comparison.

Santa too "defies human logic" in many ways. Most Christians would admit that Santa (if he existed for sake of argument) can't visit all the houses of the world in one night because its logically impossible, yet they will look you straight in the eye and tell you God is omnipresent and that Jesus rose from the dead.

These are supernatural claims about individuals that we know ONLY from stories. In the case of Santa he was based on a real person, the same could be said for Jesus, but we know full well the supernatural parts of the story are embellishments for Santa. Try telling Christians the same thing but about Christ.

The fact that most wouldn't perceive the irony there and would instead think I'm insulting them by making the comparison, frightens me. It shows that they aren't thinking about their beliefs and that they will apply logic to some supernatural claims but when they apply logic to their own beliefs it is the beliefs that win out over logic.


AntonOfTheNorth profile image

AntonOfTheNorth 5 years ago from The Land Up Over

@Titen

"Try telling Christians the same thing but about Christ."

They won't perceive the irony because they place Jesus in the same place you place a real person that you love and respect, whereas they place Santa in the myth category.

I'm not saying the comparison does not have validity. I'm saying using it will not get you what you want, which is to get them to see your point of view.

Rather like trying to engage an african-american in a discussion about a white person's use of the 'n' word by using it first. It causes the very defensive and emotional reaction you are trying to dispel.

again, just my opinion.

cheers

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