Class Warfare Blog

February 3, 2019

More on Stolen Gifts

Filed under: Culture,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 9:10 am
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In my recent post, Stolen Gifts, I pointed out that religions have hijacked ordinary abilities and declared them to be gifts from their god, which has a number of consequences, one being we are expected to feel grateful for our “gifts.” Another is that we are to see their god at work in our lives and not as some distant, removed supernatural superhero.

Giving this psychological sleight of hand a bit more thought I realized that it is a double edged sword for the religions, cutting both ways, not just to their benefit.

As a child I was fairly successful in youth sports. Largely this was due to the fact that I was substantially taller and stronger than my educational classmates. As we grew up, these advantages diminished and almost disappeared. I was confronted by others whose athletic “gifts” were far greater than mine. I specifically remember turning up for the first day of basketball practice as a sophomore in college only to find roughly 60 guys in the gym, at least three quarters of whom were better players than me. On day two of practice, we were down to 30-35 guys left, again, most of whom were better players than I was. By day three we were down to about 18, the normal number of players who would practice and I was still there (hadn’t been cut or quit). Basically I was willing to pay the price (there were hours and hours of conditioning drills in those early practices) and was stubborn enough to not quit (I had been cut from teams before but had never quit). What I could have done had I more “talent” I can only dream of.

The same could be said for my intellectual gifts. I had a high IQ but either didn’t get the guidance I needed or I didn’t make the effort needed to expand upon that “gift.” I saw many, many other students who seemed far brighter than I was. I persevered by didn’t light any fires.

So, if these were my “gifts from God,” what should a child think who was born into a flawed body or was starved as a child until they were physical or intellectual derelicts? Why them? What should children think who were born infected by AIDS, or as a foster child of ours was, born with seven illicit drugs in her blood? The usual answer is “God works in mysterious ways” or “No one can know the mind of god.” These are spoken without irony by people who will turn around and tell you exactly what their god thinks and why it is clear as air what you should be doing.

But why indeed? Why are some showered with gifts and others starved of them. Why does god play favorites? Why would god “choose” a people to favor? Are we not all “God’s children”?

Obviously I tend to over think these things … but someone has to to point out the sheer mendacity and silliness of these concepts. The brilliance of Christianity is its design to have its practitioners take over the task of acquiring fresh, new believers, while reinforcing the beliefs of people already in the flock. If all of this required professional religionists, then we would be much less subjected to this religion. Small armies of ordinary people, often through unthinking meme transmission are doing much of this work. Having ordinary people going around saying things like “what extraordinary gifts your child has been given” makes parents glow, while lowering any suspicion they might have of vested interests in the comment. Thus these memes get passed around like a disease vector.


  1. I’ve heard this more than I care to admit at my former church. People born with handicap are there for “us” to be tested, or in the case of the mentally handicapped, “they are such valiant spirits they didn’t need to be tested”. It a shell game of answers designed to placate belief. Belief is the most overrated aspect of human nature.


    Comment by jim- — February 3, 2019 @ 9:21 am | Reply

    • They think to be a “person of strong faith” is a complement, while I see it as in insult as it equates to being willingly gullible.

      On Sun, Feb 3, 2019 at 9:21 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:



      Comment by Steve Ruis — February 3, 2019 @ 9:23 am | Reply

      • Person of strong faith…code word for ignorant bullheaded piety?


        Comment by jim- — February 3, 2019 @ 9:25 am | Reply

        • Might could be …

          On Sun, Feb 3, 2019 at 9:25 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:



          Comment by Steve Ruis — February 3, 2019 @ 9:50 am | Reply

  2. Basically, God works in such a way as to be totally indistinguishable from chance (‘course, genetics plays such a big role, too, but since we don’t get a choice in that process, is that not another form of “chance”?)

    Luckily, we have apologists on hand to bore us all blind with their expert knowledge on God’s mysterious ways, and rail away at the very concept of chance, so we can’t even take refuge in the notion of “blind luck.”

    But…luckily, we have intelligent people on hand to point out the apologist’s fallacies, and how reality is better explained by constraining ourselves to naturalistic causes.

    See how much luck plays a part in everything? Uncanny.


    Comment by ChrisS — February 3, 2019 @ 7:14 pm | Reply

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