Why is the following anti-marijuana slogan doomed to fail?
Smoking marijuana will soon have you giggling hysterically about nothing with your pothead friends.
The obvious answer is that, for some perhaps inexperienced lives, no greater mode of existence can be envisioned beyond guffawing inexplicably in a smoky room with guffawing friends. For those of us who have experienced so many other wonderful modes of life that far outperform delusional giggling, this seems an obvious no-brainer; it is a waste of life. However, for those with a much smaller notion of the world due to a lack of education or experience, the warmth of a community of delusional gigglers is deeply appealing. This world soon becomes normal to them, and their reach of other modes of existence fades away the more they drag and giggle.
(Don’t bother trying to convey to me the virtues of pot smoking. I have far too many skitzotypical friends who were quite normal prior to taking up “recreational” usage.)
Now consider a second slogan.
Belief in God will soon have you making confident assertions apart from any evidence.
For those of us committed to science and reason, this is repulsive. However, to those with limited education and interaction with a larger world this concept seems quite pleasant. It is a concept in which there is not the angst of not knowing and having to admit to ignorance. It is a concept in which the immediacy of feelings reigns over the often strenuous exercise of reason. It is a concept in which you can warmly imagine that you have knowledge that was given to you directly by a divine being. These people wear the badge “faith” as proudly as a junkie wears the badge “hallucinogenics”.
So how might we adjust our message to the theists? Perhaps we should be focusing on the worlds they are missing out on. I know that, when I was in christianity, “faith” seemed at the pinnacle of existence, while limiting belief to evidence was disparaged by my community as insufficient to provide a meaningful life. I was taught that the only other world was a “godless” life that was full of pain and misery. When I finally emerged from this narrow mindset, I was amazed at just how wrong I had been, and how meaningful and fulfilling a “godless” life actually was.
This word “godless” is another interesting concept. From a christian perspective it is laden with dark connotations and associations with concocted theistic terms such as “evil”, “iniquity” and “demonic”. Now here I am in my godless life seeing far more beauty than could ever be seen through the distorting tint of “godly” goggles. “Faith” is the inverse. At one time I thought there was nothing more virtuous. Now I see faith as what it really is; a euphemism for rushing past the evidence, through the chute of some religion, into the knives of feel-good dogma. This is the slaughterhouse of the gullible, operated by butcherous shepherds without scruples.
A more neutral concept is that of the “magic” of Christmas as promoted by dozens of Hollywood movies. Here’s the slogan.
Suspension of disbelief will make Christmas so much more wonderful.
As adults, we delight in letting our imaginations entertain notions of Santa and Rudolph and Frosty and so on. And this is largely harmless. We may accuse those who don’t appropriate this mental game as being Scrooges. But throughout the Christmas movie, most adults know precisely what is real and what is imaginary. We usually have no trouble reverting back to non-magical creatures in a non-magical world full of non-magical but real pleasures at the end of the movie.
Pot smokers often cannot extract themselves from their world of senseless giggling since they have often never explored an existence beyond their drug abuse. The magic of their drugs seems unsurpassed by other modes of existence simply because those modes of existence have never been experienced. They cannot accurately assess their marginal lives from within the context of the lifestyle. Those who have left substance abuse usually have done so only after stumbling upon a superior satisfaction in an area of reality that they never expected to yield satisfaction.
This is also true of those who have left “god abuse”. Having been strongly warned by other “god abusers” that a “godless” life will yield nothing but sorrow, they perhaps made a commitment to searching for a faithless reality, and have found one of a myriad of satisfying and godless modes of existence. It is only after having successfully pulled themselves out of the muck of faith that they can look back and shake their heads at their narrow and marginally satisfying past lives.
So instead of arguing to those in a warm delusion of theism that placing faith in a god will yield delusions, perhaps it is better to simply show them the many modes of godless existence that do not result in sorrow as their bible and shepherds arrogantly and mendaciously affirm. This is actually a biblical notion. “By their fruits ye shall know them”. It is now just a matter of showing them that partaking of the tree of knowledge does not (despite the claims of the “faithful” shepherds who belittle reason and evidence) come with a curse.