Thursday, September 09, 2010

My Book's Better Than Your Book

You don't need me to tell you that the world has gotten pretty crazy. One of the main reasons it's gotten so crazy is that we don't know how to respect one another any more, and there are a lot of reasons for this. One of them is the dismal state of the economy, which drives a wedge between the "haves" and the "have nots," encouraging jealousy and anger. Another is the poisonous "I'm right, and I'm never going to compromise" attitude of ass clowns on the political far left and far right. Another is religion.

Some scientists believe that the tendency to belief in God is hard-wired into each of us, as an evolutionary way of helping us make sense of a hard and unforgiving world. Philosophers tell us that religion gives us a framework within which to develop ethical and moral standards, and ordinary people fall back on religious belief as a comfort in times of trial and a unifying bond with other people of the same school of belief.

It also leads to some of the most outrageous, hateful, and divisive behavior we can imagine.

There are two prime examples swirling in an interrelated whirlpool of hatred and intolerance at the moment: the hard-headed insistence of a Florida preacher who plans to burn a pile of Qurans tomorrow to protest Islamic radicalism, and the hard-headed insistence of an Islamic leader on building a huge Islamic center (lately recast as an "interfaith" facility) about two blocks from Ground Zero in New York. Both represent the very worst in religious belief.

My problem with the major organized religions is, as you've read here often enough, that they tend to be exclusive and divisive. You are with us, or you are damned. Muslims believe that Islam is the absolute, final, perfect system of belief, and divide the world into Muslims and everyone else. Christians believe that there is only one way to eternal life, which is belief in and worship of Jesus as the Son of God and absolute belief in the Bible as God's word, and if you don't believe that, you are destined for a very uncomfortable stint in a very hot place after you shuffle off your mortal coil.

Everybody can't be right, but nobody can compromise on a belief so fundamental to their view of world and self. John wrote eloquently about this in his blog post titled What if They Are All Wrong? Absolute belief in a single and omnipotent God that has chosen the belief system of one group of humans above all others is a prescription for hatred and intolerance: I'm right, you're wrong, you're damned forever, and I know it's true because the (insert name of holy scripture here) says so.

I've said it before: a God capable of creating the endless grandeur and majesty of the universe and the wonderful diversity of life on Earth has better things to do than worry about whether or not men shave, women cover themselves from head to foot, people eat pork or beef, or worship services take place on Friday or Sunday. If we can't get past absolute belief in a single, specific, religious belief that's indifferent to others at best, or violently intolerant of them at worst, we're destined to keep living with morons whose heads are so far up their scripturally-sanctioned backsides that they can't relate to anyone else.

And we'll keep seeing it reflected in explosions, fires, and chants of hatred instead of choruses of Kumbaya. Which is sad beyond words.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



Mike said...

"God is hard-wired"

Read a book called "The God Gene" and you'll find out about the VMAT2 gene. According to the book your religious belief depends on how much the gene is expressed in your body.

KathyA said...

Add another 'ive' derisive to that list.
And when we consider the atrocities committed in the name of God, well, let's just say it's enough to make you want to get some religion! :)

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Well, the followers will only find out who is right when it is too late!

John said...

1--Thanks for the shout out.

2--"... morons whose heads are so far up their scripturally-sanctioned backsides"--That's beautiful (uhmm... figuratively speaking, not wanting the physically speaking image in my head)

3--I'm going quote some of the other eloquent word of Bilbo...with your permission of course.

Raquel's World said...

All I have to say is AMEN!