Avoiding God is no easy task. Many people who try it fail. It takes effort. It calls for constant vigilance. As C. S. Lewis, reminiscing about his days as an atheist, put it, “Really, a young Atheist cannot guard his faith too carefully. Dangers lie in wait for him on every side.”
Lewis, who spent many years trying to avoid God, gave this tongue-in-cheek advice: “Avoid silence, avoid solitude, avoid any train of thought that leads off the beaten track. Concentrate on money, sex, status, health and (above all) on your own grievances. Keep the radio on. Live in a crowd. Use plenty of sedation. If you must read books, select them very carefully.”
Here are some “tips” for people who would prefer to keep God at a distance. (I am indebted to my son Kevin Looper’s teaching series, “Finding God Everywhere,” and especially the final session, “How to Avoid God Everywhere,” for much of what follows.)
The critical first step is to avoid thinking deeply about anything. Contemplation is a dangerous path. It leads people to God before they knows what’s happening. Don’t let your mind stray down the corridors of history or literature. Don’t search for meaning or truth.
Along with that, don’t read books … just don’t do it. Assume that all books are boring and that you already know and have heard everything worth knowing and hearing. Even fiction can be dangerous, because it so often portrays courageous, loyal, and admirable people. That kind of thing could lead to self-examination, which is deadly.
If you must use fiction for entertainment, better stick to the movies, especially the ones that glorify romance or extol combat skills. Or better yet, choose ones (they’re easy to find) that spend two hours on perverted humor, especially the kind that constantly humiliates others.
Make use of any and all distractions. Always have the TV or radio on. Check your Facebook page every few minutes. Text incessantly. Keep your phone with you at all times. Whatever your do, avoid silence. If you are quiet for even a moment, something might get through. You might hear God speaking.
Chatter is helpful, but avoid real conversations with people. Keep it light and surface-level. Don’t talk about anything that requires thought. Stick to the weather, sports, and clothes.
Enjoy yourself, but be sure to focus on your subjective experience of enjoyment, and not on the things you enjoy. To do otherwise might elicit thankfulness—and you know where that leads.
If possible, sleep in on Sundays. But if you must go to church, do your best to distract yourself from what’s being said. Focus on the absurdities and hypocrisies of the people in your pew. Think of all the things you could be doing if you weren’t in church. If things get dicey and you find yourself actually listening to the sermon, try counting the pastor’s grammatical errors.
Do your best to stay away from real Christians. Don’t talk to them and don’t spend time with them. Spending time with irreligious people is good, but hanging out with people who say they are Christians but are not is even better. You are far less likely to stumble onto God while talking to a religious phony than you are talking to a convinced atheist. Don’t take chances.
If doubts or questions arise, run. Whatever you do, don’t face them. Honest doubts cause people to think about what they believe and, as has already been established, thinking is dangerous. Never ask questions about God or religion, not even insincere ones. If you don’t ask questions, you won’t have to listen to answers – some of which are surprisingly compelling.
Above all, avoid the Bible. God is known to haunt that book. He shows up at the turn of every new page. If you can’t avoid exposure to the Bible, at least don’t spend any time reflecting on what it says, even for the purpose of refuting it. It is the most dangerous of books, a net that has caught many an unsuspecting skeptic.
First published in The Coldwater Daily Reporter, 10/10/2015