Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Resisting Temptation is Too Hard

This week I've been in a constant state of astonishment about the Trump family and their compatriots, and their seeming inability to resist getting more money, cheating, hiding secrets, serious breeches of personal and professional ethics. I truly don't understand how fearful a person must be to feel as though they never have enough cash and as though they must cheat the system to get and hide more, to take the cash from other parties, or to feel entitled to the lion's share. It's a temptation that I can't relate to at all.

But it's there. The news these days is inundated with people in the financial upper 1% who want more, need  more, can't seem to stop themselves from gaining more at the expense of others. I truly wonder if that need to have 
more more more a temptation or a disorder ??? It seems like such a destructive drive, an enthrallment that brings nothing but disorder, anxiety, imprisonment, banishment, personal and professional collapse.

Surely there is an underlying sense of omnipotence, being above the law, being entitled, but there must also be some sense of fear, inadequacy, something that is being run from... All resulting in these people, and others of course, making decisions that they can't seem to resist...

This blog post is actually about that claim by some believers that atheists are atheists because we find it too difficult to resist temptation and we, therefore, avoid religion and its wisdom regarding the struggle of enticing things and behaviors, and we embrace the temptation...a claim that I strenuously reject.

Resisting Temptation is Too Hard

Inherent in such a claim is an underlying belief that atheists actually do believe in a deity but reject that deity for various character flaws or weaknesses, temptations. Also implicit in the Christian and religious view of temptation is that temptation leads one to sin, that we are broken, and that we are sinful by nature. 
All of these claims I reject strenuously, again.

Human beings are imperfect, all of us, those who believe and those who do not believe in supernatural things, all are imperfect and striving. We are all in this world where unhealthy or unwise allurements surround us and we all must find our way to the healthiest and happiest existence possible and that means we must learn how to avoid unhealthy, hurtful choices.

What do I mean about temptations?
I'm thinking of things like sexual behaviors that bring us or others pain, taking drugs or any other substance that brings us problematic health situations, stealing, greed, purchasing unnecessarily or extravagantly more, invasion of the privacy of another, wearing sweatpants every day, another Snickers®️, eating my fries across the table, getting yet another cuddly kitten, dangerous weight loss fads, giving up. These are all examples of very real temptations that all humans must figure out how to handle. Especially in this culture, we are teased and taunted and seduced continuously with unhealthy options. I submit that these are generally issues of consumerism rather than of demonic temptation.

These temptations are normal.
I have experienced nearly every one of these myself, minus the cats. In fact, I'm wearing sweatpants as I sit here typing this.

These temptations and allurements are not evil demons trying to ensnare you; they are a part of being alive and we are wise to learn mature and healthy ways to deal with them. Some believers will say that atheists truly know that a deity exists but that we, the atheists, do not wish to avoid temptation and so we reject their god. No, they will say, we want to live in temptation.  Our relativism is a mask for our overindulgence.

Good grief.
What nonsense. Again, the fear is so obvious in beliefs such as this.
I'm glad that not all religions push such agendas of fear.

Allow me to give you several truly helpful behaviors that are truly not too hard to help you through the unfair cajolery of certain substances and behaviors:

Yes, secular AA-rejectors, these are helpful to you:

  • Be aware of those things that are potentially tempting to you and deliberately create options. Know when you will be in the presence of things/people/behaviors that entice you to distraction and make a plan for getting through the moment.
    This is simply self-preservation.
  • Or simpler, avoid those places.
    Remove yourself from places where temptation lives. You are a powerful being with the ability to make choices and you deserve to create healthy places and spaces for yourself.
    This is simply good planning.
  • Be as truly honest with yourself and others about those things that are problematic for you. This honesty sets the stages for personal interventions and empowerment in the face of strong urges. Because you can become stronger and stronger in the struggle each time you find your way to a healthier decision.
  • Practice making good, healthy choices. In down time, create scenarios and scenes in your mind where you address the temptation and succeed in making other choices that are healthier and more full of integrity.
    This is simply self-empowerment.
  • Remind yourself of your goals and of your values and of the positive consequences of making decisions of health, sobriety, integrity, personal power. Imagine the success of those moments where no one is watching you and you do not give in to another kitten or problematic behavior.
    This is simply getting conscious that a decision lies before you and that you have the power to make things happen through your behavior, through your daily choices.
    You have the power.
  • Create a meaningful life. Friends, hobbies, activities, work that is meaningful. All of these things, and more, fill in the spaces of boredom, depression, self-pity, even of celebratory moods that might lead one to ignore moment of choice that one is facing.
    This is simply finding supportive places and people.
  • Remember that you are on a journey. Life is a journey and you want to create the best life possible. In this moment.

But still, the point, atheists are not atheists because we are embracing temptation. We are atheists because it makes sense.

As for temptation...
No guilt.
No shame.

No sin.
No name calling.
So self-flagellation. 
No demons luring you to your doom.
Just one human being making the most of their life.

And also, regarding how atheists prefer temptation:

You might also like:
Well He Believes in You
There are no Atheists in Foxholes
What if You're Wrong
You Deny God Because You Want to Sin
This One Meaningless Life of Mine
For Someone Who Doesn't  Believe in God, You Sure Talk About Him Alot

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