Tag Archives: Expectations

Study explores whether atheism is rooted in reason or emotion

A conflict of worldviews
A conflict of worldviews

From First Things, based on research reported by CNN.

A new set of studies in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology finds that atheists and agnostics report anger toward God either in the past or anger focused on a hypothetical image of what they imagine God must be like. Julie Exline, a psychologist at Case Western Reserve University and the lead author of this recent study, has examined other data on this subject with identical results. Exline explains that her interest was first piqued when an early study of anger toward God revealed a counterintuitive finding: Those who reported no belief in God reported more grudges toward him than believers.

At first glance, this finding seemed to reflect an error. How could people be angry with God if they did not believe in God? Reanalyses of a second dataset revealed similar patterns: Those who endorsed their religious beliefs as “atheist/agnostic” or “none/unsure” reported more anger toward God than those who reported a religious affiliation.

Exline notes that the findings raised questions of whether anger might actually affect belief in God’s existence, an idea consistent with social science’s previous clinical findings on “emotional atheism.”

Studies in traumatic events suggest a possible link between suffering, anger toward God, and doubts about God’s existence. According to Cook and Wimberly (1983), 33% of parents who suffered the death of a child reported doubts about God in the first year of bereavement. In another study, 90% of mothers who had given birth to a profoundly retarded child voiced doubts about the existence of God (Childs, 1985). Our survey research with undergraduates has focused directly on the association between anger at God and self-reported drops in belief (Exline et al., 2004). In the wake of a negative life event, anger toward God predicted decreased belief in God’s existence.

The most striking finding was that when Exline looked only at subjects who reported a drop in religious belief, their faith was least likely to recover if anger toward God was the cause of their loss of belief. In other words, anger toward God may not only lead people to atheism but give them a reason to cling to their disbelief.

I think the best defense to this phenomena is for the church to not tell people that God’s job is to make them happy in this life on Earth. I think if we spent less time selling Christianity to young people as life enhancement, we would have much fewer apostates. If young people get into their minds that God is their boss, not their waiter, then that is a good preparation for the real world. And all of the challenges that Christians face – from poverty, to peer pressure, to health problems to persecution. Stop expecting happiness, that is not God’s goal for you.

I was blessed to have discovered apologetics at a very early age. This passage from C. S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters” always stood out to me back then:

Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.

When I was young, I shortened this quote into my motto, which lasted until just a few years  back when I finally started to feel some security. And that motto was “nothing works”. Nothing works. That’s right, so get used to it. Everything sucks, nothing works. Nothing works.

Stop expecting God to make you happy. You are a soldier, and your job is to fight to the last breath in your body for the General. Hold until relieved. You’re damn right it’s unfair. Your whole life is unfair and then you die. Get used to it. When I was in college, my Christian friends and I used to joke that even if we fought our entire lives for God and he tossed us into Hell like firewood, we would still do the same things. We were happy to serve and we didn’t think about whether we were getting what we wanted. We did not take stupid chances, but we just didn’t care about being happy. We felt that God was in the right, and sinful humans were in the wrong, and that it was enough for us to serve on the right side. We didn’t expect anyone to care how we felt, we just expected to serve. And if our first plan failed, we went on to the next plan, and the next, until we found a way to serve in spite of the unfairness of it all.

Who should you marry?

“Tristan and Isolde”, by Marc Fishman

Dina found this article in the leftist Washington Post, of all places. The author explains how her husband lovingly helped her to recover from her Caesarian section. He actually had to to carry her to and from the bathroom, very slowly. Until she was better.

She writes:

At the time, I thought: This is why I married this man. Not for his fabulous head of hair or his beautiful, light-brown eyes — though those things were certainly bonuses. But no. It was his gentleness, his thoughtfulness, his loving heart, his caring nature that sealed the deal for me.

As a dating coach who works with singles in their 20s to 50s, I see a lot of people focusing on superficial things that have little to do with a potential partner’s character. I get it — I once obsessed over those things, too.

Most of all, I see how the trap of chemistry can lead people astray. Chemistry is important, but as far as relationships go, it’s only half the equation.

So how do you look for these deeper, more important qualities in the early stages of dating? Some might argue there’s no way to tell in, say, the first several months of dating someone — after all, it is the honeymoon stage — if this is the type of person who will help you onto the toilet during times of trial. I disagree.

Looking back to the early days of dating Dave, all the signs were there. He treated my friends with care and kindness, which showed me he had the ability to be compassionate. The way he scoured the Internet for the perfect gifts for my parents and nephews showed me his thoughtful, generous side. He rubbed my back and wiped my tears after I suffered a heart-wrenching squash match loss, showing me that validating my feelings was important to him (even if I’m the most competitive person alive and it was just a squash match). He listened to me vent after a difficult fallout with a colleague, showing me he was ready and willing to be a part of my support system.

When he stayed up until the early hours of the morning, helping me with Web site issues relating to my coaching business, I knew I’d found someone who would support me in my professional goals as well as physically and emotionally. When he held my hands and said “We’ll figure it out” while I was dealing with a frustrating medical situation, that was probably my biggest clue that he’d be so supportive in that hospital room years down the line.

Singles should keep their eyes open for these signs. They’re more telling than a person’s job, salary, ambition or education; whether he or she is the “right age”; has the perfect body; or can dazzle you with their charm and wit.

Keep your eyes open for the type of person who one day might lovingly help you onto the toilet.

When you are married, the amount of time you spend having fun and feeling thrilled is minuscule. The real problems you face are money problems, sex problems, in-law problems, holiday problems, parenting problems, etc. Most often in marriage hard stuff needs to get done. Compromises need to be made. There is actually very little fun and thrills. If you want to prepare for most of what marriage is about, then it’s best to focus on responsibilities, expectations and obligations. Spouses need each other, and the ability to sense someone else’s needs and to care for them, even when it’s not fun for you, is non-negotiable.

New study: a good credit score is a key performance indicator for marriage success

Financial responsibility is a key performance indicator for marriage success
Financial responsibility is a key performance indicator for marriage success

Story from the leftist Washington Post.

Excerpt:

When people are looking for a significant other, they often try to find someone whose values, education, earnings, hobbies and even height match their own. But new research suggests there’s one promising measure for finding a committed partner that most daters overlook — credit scores.

A credit score is a number that is supposed to reflect the risk of lending money to someone, based mostly on their past history of borrowing, repaying and defaulting on debt. Banks have long used credit scores to evaluate customers, but these days potential employers, landlords, insurance companies, cellphone companies and many other businesses do, too.

A new working paper from the Federal Reserve Board that looks at what role credit scores play in committed relationships suggests that daters might want to start using the metric as well. The researchers found that credit scores — or whatever personal qualities credit scores might represent — actually play a pretty big role in whether people form and stay in committed relationships. People with higher credit scores are more likely to form committed relationships and marriages and then stay in them. In addition, how well matched the couple’s credit scores are initially is a good predictor of whether they stay together in the long term.

The paper analyzed a large proprietary data set of 12 million randomly selected U.S. consumers from the credit reporting agency Equifax over a period of about 15 years. Researchers used an algorithm to find a swathe of committed couples, including some who live together and are not legally married.

They found that people with higher (i.e. better) credit scores are more likely to form a committed relationship, as the chart below shows. This was true even after controlling for other differences between partners, like education level, race or income.

The researchers also found that having higher credit scores when they started the relationship meant that couples were less likely to separate over the next few years… In fact, for every extra 100 points in the couple’s average credit score when beginning the relationship, their odds of splitting in the second year fell by around 30 percent.

So what do I want to say about this story? I want to tell you that marriage is not something that you just jump into when you feel like it, without any preparation. Relationships work well when both people have trained their character to be ready to do the most important thing in a relationship: to commit. And your credit score is a good measure of your ability to do that.

A high credit score is an excellent measure of a person’s ability to be responsible with money, and to take their obligation to pay their money back seriously. Marriage is all about whether two people are comfortable with being responsible, and whether two people can put aside their desire for fun and thrills and meet their obligations, even when they don’t feel like it. If a person is uncomfortable with marriage obligations, because it is too “transactional” and they want to be feelings-led, that’s a clear sign they are not ready for a commitment through thick and thin. The credit score is a measure of one’s ability to be responsible to others regardless of feelings and desires, and that’s what you need to commit.

When I meet someone I am interested in for marriage, if they have problems with their education, career or finances, the first thing I do is to try to push them to study for a degree with a good employment rate, and good starting salaries. I push them to get good jobs with reputable companies, and to work in the summer if they are students. I push them to pay off their debts and start investing. I do this because I am trying to make them marriage-ready. That is, I am trying to get them to be comfortable with responsibilities, expectations and obligations.

One girl I used to mentor just got married. She started out living with her parents, doing degrees in English, and working minimum wage service jobs. Then something happened. She moved out of her parents house, got a real job, cut expenses, and married a non-student who works and saves. They are both paying down debt like crazy, and she has a plan to invest soon. Most of what she did was self-directed, all I did was cheer, make suggestions and send the occasional gift. But she never viewed this advising and rewarding as “manipulative”. She was happy to get the opinion of someone with qualifications in those areas. She didn’t rebel against people who were leading her upward, she embraced it. Now she’s committed to a man for life and they are executing a sound plan to have an influence as Christians. It has not been easy for her. She is punching well above her weight now, though.

If you want to get married, you need to develop the ability to commit. That means that you need to get comfortable with self-sacrifice and self-denial. You need to change your character through studying hard things, working boring jobs, saving instead of spending, and investing early. These are the life experiences that change your character so that you are able to commit to another person for life.

Should you marry a woman who is pro-choice, pro-divorce or pro-gay-marriage?

Young, unmarried women celebrate gay pride
Young women celebrate gay pride: do they understand marriage? are they safe to marry?

Let’s take a closer look at what these three views mean for you as a future husband.

Pro-choice:

Let’s start by talking about sex, because you can’t have an abortion without sex. So, the right way to view sex is that it’s something that should be confined to marriage. Sex is so non-trivial that it should only be done after a couple has committed to each other for life. Feelings of being “in love” cannot ground sex, because feelings come and go, but marriage is for life.  The function that sex provides in a married home is that it relieves stress, affirms the unity of the marriage, and communicates love to the man in particular. Sex is not to be used before marriage as a way of getting what you want without having to promise to love the other person for a lifetime, no matter what.

Again, it’s not how you feel about the other person that matters, because feelings change. What matters is whether you are willing to make that commitment to take responsibility for another person’s needs, regardless of how you feel. Sex makes sense in a relationship where both people have promised to do that. And both people should have some kind of track record at doing that in their past, since accepting responsibilities, expectations and obligations is not something that just gets turned on and off by a wedding.

When a woman says that she is pro-choice, what she means is that sex is something completely different than what I just described. A pro-choice woman thinks it should be OK for a woman to have pre-marital sex for recreation – outside of the boundaries of a lifelong, exclusive commitment to marry. Since people don’t usually have pre-marital sex when they are sober, this is probably going to mean drinking a lot to break down her judgment, and to give her a way of getting out of the responsibility and feelings of guilt – “that wasn’t me, it was the alcohol that I freely chose to drink”. Premarital sex is about a woman choosing a man apart from his ability to commit to performing the roles of husband and father for her. She is not giving sex to a man who committed to her, she’s giving sex to a man who is hot and fun and will give her thrills and tingles and will make her friends so envious.

So what happens when this recreational sex results in a pregnancy? A pro-choice woman believes that it’s OK to murder another innocent human being in order to escape the normal, natural consequences of her own choices. Is this view of sex as recreational and commitment-free compatible with the needs and goals of a marriage-minded man?

Not only is this recreational, me-first, fun and thrills view of sex not compatible with marriage, but it’s not compatible with having children either. A woman who thinks that murdering an innocent child is an acceptable way to insulate herself from obligations and responsibilities is not a good woman to marry. A pro-choice woman will not be able to handle the needs of  a child, because she thinks that her happiness comes above self-sacrificial service to others.

Pro-no-fault-divorce:

The first redefinition of marriage before gay marriage was the enactment of no-fault divorce, which allows one spouse (the woman, 70% of the time) to exit the marriage for any reason, or no reason at all. These no-fault divorce laws were pushed through by two groups on the left: feminists and trial lawyers. They both stood to gain from no-fault divorce. Trial lawyers stood to make a ton of money from the divorce trials. Feminists objected to the traditional marital roles: sole male provider and stay-at-home wife and mother. By making it easier to divorce, they basically encouraged women to not think through who they were choosing to marry, since they could easily get out of it now. A woman who can get out of a marriage easily does not think rationally about whether the man can perform the traditional male roles. It enables her to reject her father’s guidance and just marry based on her feelings – the man’s appearance, peer-approval, cultural standards of what men ought to be, etc. No-fault divorce is like winning the lottery for a woman: she gets alimony AND child support.

If a woman supports no-fault divorce, it means that she does not want to be roped into responsibilities, expectations and obligations that require self-denial, self-control and self-sacrifice. Women who support no-fault divorce typically have the view that life is too unpredictable to logically connect causes and effects. They think that the most reliable way to choose a man is through their feelings, not by measuring his abilities against objective criteria like the traditional set of {provider, protector, moral leader, spiritual leader}. What this means for you is that if their feelings change, then they will divorce you. A woman who thinks that her feelings can predict whether an enterprise like marriage is likely to succeed or fail is a divorce risk. She will rely on her feelings to motivate her to perform in the marriage, and will expect you to make her feel like doing her jobs. You can’t get involved with that. Your job as a man is to protect, provide, and lead on moral and spiritual issues, not to make her do her job by making sure she always feels like doing it.

What if a woman says she opposes divorce – can she still be a divorce risk? Yes. If she has an overriding desire to be happy in other areas of her life that is so strong that it causes her to avoid hard things. If she studies easy subjects, prefers easy jobs, spends more on vacations than investments, etc. Avoid women who prioritize thrill-seeking behavior, like going out, getting drunk, hooking up, or doing pointless, expensive activities like sky-diving, zip-lining or surfing. They are not going to be content with married life, because they don’t value the end result of a good marriage over their own desire to be free of constraints and to have happy feelings. Whatever duties they have in the marriage will never get done, because they are not used to committing to do hard things, and then doing them, regardless of how they feel. Prefer women with a history of doing the right thing, even if they don’t feel like it.

Pro-gay-marriage:

What does it mean to be in favor of removing the requirement for two complementary genders in marriage? Well, what it means is that there is no design to marriage such that the male and female nature need to balance each other out. Same-sex relationships tend to exhibit characteristics that not favorable for the needs of children, e.g. – higher rates of domestic violence, non-monogamy, etc. I don’t think it’s a good idea to redefine marriage in a way that undermines the norms of natural marriage, e.g. – pre-marital chastity, exclusivity, permanence, and focusing on stability for the sake of the children. If your candidate thinks that raising children without a father or without a mother is “marriage”, they don’t understand marriage.

Any children who are raised by a same-sex couple will be automatically deprived of either their biological mother, their biological father, or both. Biological parents are naturally going to have an additional interest in the child, since the child contains their genetic material. And of course children do better when they are raised in a stable home. Anyone one can see that children of divorce do worse without their father. And orphans who go without a mother during their childhood – especially the first 5 years – do much worse than children raised by stay-at-home moms. So, either way, same-sex unions impose a lot of stress and strain on kids.

So should should marry a woman who thinks that it is OK to put the needs of selfish adults over the needs of vulnerable children? The answer is no. Any woman who puts the needs of selfish adults over the needs of innocent, vulnerable children is certainly not going to treat YOU well as a man. You are much less adorable and cute than any child. You’re big and hairy, and most women think you can take care of yourself. So naturally, a woman who thinks that children shouldn’t get their needs met is certainly going to think that you shouldn’t get your needs met, either. You want a woman who is prepared to put aside her own selfishness desires for the sake of the children. She has to believe in adults sacrificing their own desires for the sake of the children. Otherwise, not only will your children suffer, but you will as well.

Conclusion:

So we have seen 3 character traits in women that marriage-minded men should avoid. I just want to tell you that I have seen all 3 of these beliefs in women who claimed to be Christians. You cannot take the words “I am pro-life” to be a sign that she is really pro-life. You have to go deeper, and look for an understanding of the logic of the pro-life case, and pro-life activism. You cannot take the words “I oppose divorce” as a sign that she really opposes no-fault divorce. If her life is focused on pursuing pleasure by relying on her emotions, and then breaking promises and dismissing obligations that don’t feel good, then she is a divorce waiting to happen. You cannot take the words “I oppose same-sex marriage” as proof that she opposes same-sex marriage. If her view of relationships is that adults should do what they want, and the kids just have to adjust, then the risk that she will put herself above the children’s needs – and your needs – is there, regardless of what she says.

Watch out for women who say that their emotions are “God speaking to them”. That is a huge red flag, especially if their past shows evidence of poor decision making, e.g. – debt, abortion, unemployment,  drunkenness, sexual promiscuity, etc. You are looking for a past that shows long-term commitment that overrides feelings. This is not something that can be decided by will or emotions, it has to be a habit cultivated over a lifetime.

Study explores whether atheism is rooted in reason or emotion

Navy SEAL Matthew "Axe" Axelson
Image of Navy SEAL Matthew “Axe” Axelson from the movie “Lone Survivor”

From First Things, based on research reported by CNN.

A new set of studies in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology finds that atheists and agnostics report anger toward God either in the past or anger focused on a hypothetical image of what they imagine God must be like. Julie Exline, a psychologist at Case Western Reserve University and the lead author of this recent study, has examined other data on this subject with identical results. Exline explains that her interest was first piqued when an early study of anger toward God revealed a counterintuitive finding: Those who reported no belief in God reported more grudges toward him than believers.

At first glance, this finding seemed to reflect an error. How could people be angry with God if they did not believe in God? Reanalyses of a second dataset revealed similar patterns: Those who endorsed their religious beliefs as “atheist/agnostic” or “none/unsure” reported more anger toward God than those who reported a religious affiliation.

Exline notes that the findings raised questions of whether anger might actually affect belief in God’s existence, an idea consistent with social science’s previous clinical findings on “emotional atheism.”

Studies in traumatic events suggest a possible link between suffering, anger toward God, and doubts about God’s existence. According to Cook and Wimberly (1983), 33% of parents who suffered the death of a child reported doubts about God in the first year of bereavement. In another study, 90% of mothers who had given birth to a profoundly retarded child voiced doubts about the existence of God (Childs, 1985). Our survey research with undergraduates has focused directly on the association between anger at God and self-reported drops in belief (Exline et al., 2004). In the wake of a negative life event, anger toward God predicted decreased belief in God’s existence.

The most striking finding was that when Exline looked only at subjects who reported a drop in religious belief, their faith was least likely to recover if anger toward God was the cause of their loss of belief. In other words, anger toward God may not only lead people to atheism but give them a reason to cling to their disbelief.

I think the best defense to this phenomena is for the church to not tell people that God’s job is to make them happy in this life on Earth. I think if we spent less time selling Christianity to young people as life enhancement, we would have much fewer apostates. If young people get into their minds that God is their boss, not their waiter, then that is a good preparation for the real world. And all of the challenges that Christians face – from poverty, to peer pressure, to health problems to persecution. Stop expecting happiness, that is not God’s goal for you.

I was blessed to have discovered apologetics at a very early age. This passage from C. S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters” always stood out to me back then:

Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.

When I was young, I shortened this quote into my motto, which lasted until just a few years  back when I finally started to feel some security because of my contingency fund’s size. And that motto was “nothing works”. Nothing works. That’s right, so get used to it. Everything sucks, nothing works. Nothing works.

Stop expecting God to make you happy. You are a soldier, and your job is to fight to the last breath in your body for the General. Hold until relieved. You’re damn right it’s unfair. Your whole life is unfair and then you die. Get used to it. When I was in college, my Christian friends and I used to joke that even if we fought our entire lives for God and he tossed us into Hell like firewood, we would still do the same things. We were happy to serve and we didn’t think about whether we were getting what we wanted.

Certainly, we did not take stupid chances to get ourselves into trouble deliberately. But we just didn’t care about being happy, that was not our goal. We felt that God was in the right, and sinful humans were in the wrong, and that it was enough for us to serve on the right side. We didn’t expect anyone to care how we felt, we just expected to serve. And if our first plan failed, we went on to the next plan, and the next, until we found a way to serve in spite of the unfairness of it all.

There is no way that you could read the New Testament and come out with the idea that Jesus wanted fun and thrills and good feelings. He never laughed. He was killed for his obedience to God. He desperately wanted to avoid punishment, but he did things that he did not feel like doing because it was for the benefit of others, in obedience to God his Father. And it’s that kind of realistic pessimism – downbeat practical resignation – that we ought to be striving for. This life is not a trip to the mall where everything is on sale and we grab what we like. At all.