Jesus is an Imaginary Friend

buddy_jesusPrayer is just another kind of friendly conversation, says Uffe Schjodt who did MRIs on 20 devout Christians.  This proves nothing about whether the devout Christians are talking to a real spirit, but it does show they are putting their hearts into it.

My daughter had 2 invisible friends but it seems they are gone now–she grew up.  But she used to talked to them all the time.  She was always embarrassed when we asked her who she was talking to.  I think this is why the average Christian is also shy to talk about their Christianity because they also realize that they are really talking to an imaginary friend.

Jesus is totally imaginary.  You can’t see him, you can’t hear him, you can’t smell him, you can’t feel him.  So, the only way he exists is in your imagination.  OK, people may say they can hear Jesus but they are not using the word “hear” in the normal sense.  What they mean by “hear” is that they talk to their imaginary friend and then wait for a nice warm fuzzy feeling and then they call that “the voice of the Lord”.  That is what I did when I was a devout Christian.

And when Evangelicals ask, “Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus?”, they don’t mean “personal relationship” in any normal sense.  We all know “personal relationship”  means in normal conversation.  If I pointed at someone across a room and said, “Do you have a personal relationship with that person?”  You would say “No!” if you hadn’t done things with that person like had long personal conversations  (using words of course) where you share information with each other.   Or if you had eaten, drank, danced, laughed, played baseball or stuff like that with them.  We never use “personal relationship” in normal conversation to mean that you squint your eyes and talked to yourself and imagined someone was listening — that is called “having an imaginary friend”.

Now, if you do this silly activity in front of others, it is less embarrassing.  Why do you think few people want to say grace at big gatherings of strangers.  Because everyone knows it is a speech contest and has nothing about talking to a real person and the game feels silly.  They feel better doing it at church where everyone has drank the Kool Aid and everyone agrees to suspend rationality in the building and talk outloud to common imaginary friends.  They make this sacrifice of rationality to gain community, comfort, friends, status and lots of other reasons.  But they don’t do it because they really hear someone talking back — come on, admit it.  I am an ex-Christian, I know the game.

Jesus is an imaginary friend.  This is one of the strongest arguments to confront Christians with.  Who needs theology when you can point out this childish behavior.  In the study mentioned above, “devout” simply means someone who has done it so long and in the company of fellow hypnotized people that they can not tell reality from imagination any longer.  Good for them.

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10 Comments

Filed under Philosophy & Religion

10 responses to “Jesus is an Imaginary Friend

  1. Ouch, reading that makes me glad I stopped talking to my imaginary friend. Really perceptive, pointing out the way Christians use regular words like “hear” and “relationship” when it means something else entirely.

    This sentence is too funny:
    “We never use “personal relationship” in normal conversation to mean that you squint your eyes and talked to yourself and imagined someone was listening — that is called “having an imaginary friend”.”

  2. Thank you. It sounds like you felt it the way I intended. Self-honesty was a big part of my deconversion.

  3. LB13

    Nicely presented. The whole “personal
    God,” concept, with it’s obvious emotional
    hook/crutch can be very strong. I was once such a person.

  4. Thank you. And thanks for the grammar fix (which I deleted from the comment). Send me an e-mail anytime you have edit changes — thank you kindly.

  5. Ollie Wallflower

    Here’s an attempt to dissect your argument: 1) Having an imaginary friend is childish. Agreed. 2) A relationship with an imaginary friend is one-sided. Agreed. 3) A relationship with Jesus is one-sided, therefore it must be imaginary. This is where I disagree, on two counts. Firstly, many claim that this relationship is *not* one-sided. In my case, I would say it’s 99% one-sided, in the sense that I pray often and only rarely get what appears to be a direct answer. But that 1% is significant to me, because it consists largely of what I perceived as miraculous or unexplainable responses to requests that I had made only to God. Secondly, even a completely one-sided relationship is not necessarily imaginary. Even in the case of a physical being (as opposed to a spirit) who does not communicate back to you–imagine someone who pretends not to understand English–the absence of verbal communication doesn’t necessarily imply that there is no relationship there. If that person chose to write you into his will at the end of his life and give you all that he had, I think that would be evidence that there *was* a relationship there, even though it didn’t appear as such. At the very least it would show that he thought about you and cared about you.

    I’m not trying to start a big debate on this subject. I actually think you have a fairly strong argument, and I really like how you point out the hypocrisy of Christians who pray as if it’s a speech contest (as so many of them do). Just giving you some food for thought. PS–I found your blog through “The Wise Fool’s” blog. PSS–Your second-to-last paragraph has a typo (“in” should be “it”).

  6. Pingback: What happens in church, stays in church « coming of age

  7. Brilliant take. Hosed myself laughing.
    I am busy working my way through your blog. It is a lot of fun so far.
    May I ask, do you believe that Jesus existed, or do you believe he was a mythical figure?
    Whatever the answer could you provide reasons? Thank you.
    BTW, appreciated your responses to warrior.

  8. Hey, Arkenaten, great to have you visiting. Hope to hear from you more.

    I don’t have enough invested (almost nothing) in Jesus to care if he was real or not. Likewise with the Buddha, Krishna, Mohammed or others.

    I did a piece on that, did you read it?
    And no, I won’t supply my reasons. Not my thing. I haven’t examined all the arguments — nor do I really care to. If Jesus was real, I feel he is fine to ignore and if he is fictional, all the more fine to ignore. But when discussing with Christians, I don’t mind assuming he was real to some degree. Again, see my Jesus Pie post. You can further address the issue there if you wish.

  9. Atheistic_Theist

    Ever read Joseph Campbell? He put mythology in a way that has always inspired me, and he put religion one way that always stuck, most early religions and even transubstantiation has a sort of half believe half not, requirement, that if you approach religion like it is completely wrong, you miss the point, or completely right, you miss the point. It is the half way point that brings it on. Tribal dancers know that it is their fellows underneath the masks, and that does not matter religiously in the least, it is what they represent

    . My prayer is almost always me talking to myself, always has been. But prayer is an outloud introspection, which is why the Lord’s Prayer is so stressed. Saying something everyday and thinking about it helps you grow sometimes, or reaffirms an idea. Tell yourself something enough times and you will believe it, which is why so many religions, including Christianity, has a pre wrote prayer. SAying something enough times every day or introspection with a outside, predisposed judge, helps people. I would also argue most people pray incorrectly as well. Saying please make Johnny well, only does so much, as does please give me a convertible. Those prayers only mean so much about you, not God, IMO.

    By outside judge I mean with a personality we give other people, like saying I want a cookie, and then thinking, mom will say it will spoil my dinner. Mom is not there but applying a personality outside yours on your own thoughts can add another layer of introspection. The key note here is that the kid will still probably have a cookie anyway, which puts the way most people believe in a nutshell.

  10. @ Ollie Wallflower :
    Ooops, sorry I missed your comment — as I did “Atheistic_Theist”. Thanx for the typo correction. Let me try to reply now to your two points:

    (1) One-Sided:
    You said,

    even a completely one-sided relationship is not necessarily imaginary.

    If communication is two way, they are relating — I relate to my dog, of course. I am not contending that it has to be verbal. Either way, I won’t debate the one-sided issue. For when most Christians talk about a “relationship” with Jesus, they are referring exactly to that 1% you tell me. So that takes me to #2

    (2)Does Prayer Work

    Though you may feel you get an answer 1% of the time, we would have to explore what you mean by an “answer”. But I won’t go into detail here since I have written short posts elsewhere saying Magic Prayer (prayer for sick …) does not work but Self-Prayer (talking to yourself) does work. Here are some of my posts I suggest you read to understand my point, even if you disagree:

    (a) Praying for the Sick does not work
    (b) Self-Talk Prayer DOES Work
    (c) Where god lives and how he listens

    @ Atheistic_Theist :
    If you read my blog, you will see that I don’t “treat religion as it is completely wrong” — instead, it works but not in the ways believers often think it does. It can offer comfort, status, meaning and more.

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