Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Losing your religion?

Well, Hillary is finding out what real sniper fire is like now that the press and stand-up comedians everywhere are jumping on her "visit to the war zone" comments. if she would just take a more positive approach with ideas and proposals for the future instead of trying to glorify herself…

In the meantime everyone who is looking for a way to get at Obama is continuing to go on about the sermons of Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Attacking Obama's patriotism is a good way to cover up a fear of his race. Way to go Jeremiah, doing a good job of protecting Obama's back. The ironic thing is that finally someone of color is actually in contention to be the next President, while the Rev is going on about America suppressing blacks. Well, he's right, it's been that way. But it's changing and he could recognize that. Rev, did you ever hear the expression "a self fulfilling prophecy?"
Actually, the man shouldn't be required to hold back his thinking for the sake of the election. It is a free country, and Obama did say he didn't agree with the Rev. As a clergy friend of mine pointed out, the Biblical Jeremiah said a lot of unpleasant things to the Israelites. This Jeremiah is just carrying on the tradition.

Oh, and don't give me a lot of crap about bussing and affirmative action and reverse discrimination. Any progress and any mistakes made trying to fix the racism situation along these lines are comparatively recent. (Thirty year olds are going to have trouble thinking that something that happened before their birth is recent, but they should get over that). This grouch remembers reading about a lynching in the South (well, where else?) back in the late fifties. That's not prehistory.
This grouch remembers the killings and beatings of the civil rights era, and being yelled at himself at demonstrations.

Anyway, I'm digressing. I was going to ramble on about religion. Found an article about atheist criticisms of religion

http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/politicsphilosophyandsociety/story/0,,2265446,00.html#article_continue

It's called "The Atheist Delusion," a take-off on Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion."
The article doesn't really go after the final conclusion of atheistic thought, but does a good job of showing how the latest round of polemicists are pretty much acting like evangelical religionists.
here's a quote:
" It is true that religion has declined sharply in a number of countries (Ireland is a recent example) and has not shaped everyday life for most people in Britain for many years. Much of Europe is clearly post-Christian. However, there is nothing that suggests the move away from religion is irreversible, or that it is potentially universal. The US is no more secular today than it was 150 years ago, when De Tocqueville was amazed and baffled by its all-pervading religiosity. The secular era was in any case partly illusory. The mass political movements of the 20th century were vehicles for myths inherited from religion, and it is no accident that religion is reviving now that these movements have collapsed. The current hostility to religion is a reaction against this turnabout. Secularisation is in retreat, and the result is the appearance of an evangelical type of atheism not seen since Victorian times."

Again, the author doesn't directly refute the atheist idea that there is no God, nor does he seem to support the idea that there is a God. He's just pointing out how much like religious believers the latest critics are, and shows that their contentions are not a matter of fact but a matter of faith.

Disclosure: hard as it may be to believe, your curmudgeon is a deacon in a Congregational church. Okay, I'm not a particularly pious deacon, but I am one. There it is. Also, the church is a part of the United Church of Christ, and guess what? Rev. Wright's church happens to be the largest UCC church. Obama is a member of the UCC just like me. Doesn't mean I'll automatically vote for him, he'll have to convince me. Nor does it mean I agree with Rev. Wright.

Anyhow, I like what the author of the piece, John Gray, has to say about the similarity of atheistic "faith" to religious faith. The same single-mindedness, the same conviction that those who disagree are wrong, the same concatenation of ideological points to prove their point. The same suppression of the knowledge that all the arguments lead nowhere.

The thing about faith is, well, it's faith. When one has faith in anything, any so-called objective fact can be incorporated into it, or ignored, or refuted. Think about those Christians that believe the world is only 5,000 years old. Dinosaurs? No problem. King Arthur probably killed them off. (I just made that up). Carbon-dating? Inaccurate or a little trick God is playing to see if we really believe. It goes on.

A common atheistic argument involves all the killing and repression caused by religion. While a lot of injustice was done in the name of religion, it wasn't necessarily caused by religion. The root cause is in the tendency of people to group together and their need to demonize others to support their group belief. It's really a basic psychological thing.
I'm familiar with this argument. I was once asked by a priest who was working underground, as it were, in the hippie community, to come to the local Newman Club and explain why I quit the Catholic Church. I did alright, tho it was a little scary to look at a row of stern-faced nuns and imagine being cudgeled roundly by a dozen rulers. But I used all those arguments— the crusades, the suppression of thought etc. I was young and impetuous and full of myself. So I have an excuse.
There's really no qualitative difference between, say, the Communist's slaughter of the Czar's family and the murder of Albigensians by the French Catholics. (There's a quantitative difference, of course, there were a lot more Albigensians.) Consider the treatment of the Japanese toward the Chinese and Koreans. That would certainly seem to be more racial than religious. The Nazis made a "religion" of their philosophy. Didn't have anything to do with God or Christianity.
It's all about people having to feel that their group is the best, is the only right one, is the only one with the truth. Everyone else is by definition, inferior. It has nothing to do with faith in a God.
One of the problems I have with any arguments about God is that underlying everything is a belief that God is like us in some way. No one can get away from the anthropomorphism, the belief that somehow there is a way to understand. God may not exist, or God may be something totally different than what we understand in this life. I'm betting my soul that God is not a bearded guy in a robe who weighs out every little peccadillo or good deed to see if I'm one of the "elect." As long as the people involved in an argument believe that God, or the idea of God is someone who looks human and acts human, that argument is pointless.

And it's late. Maybe more later. I'm outa here.

1 comment:

AtlantaJim said...

>>>The Nazis made a "religion" of their philosophy. Didn't have anything to do with God or Christianity.


That's not correct, as far as Hitler is concerned. Hitler was as smooth as butter and you know it! And he DID have a very unique concept of Germany & Christianity -- including a single German Orthodox Church that would eliminate his own Catholicism and the Protestants in Germany.

He also viewed (as did "they" of the time/place...) that Jesus was placed into the womb of "a carrier" - and therefore born without a Jewish nationality or origin. Hence his own paintings of Haysoos looking northern Euro, as of 1913 (he was 22 or 23 years old).

Besides... how can you doubt a guy who draws Disney?


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2008/02/23/whitler123.xml