Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Around kindergarten was the first time Z mentioned God. I think he suddenly made some type of matter-of-fact comment that God was listening to us, because He is everywhere. It was not easy for him to understand when I told him this was not true. It was the first time he was being told two different things by a teacher and a parent, and had to decide whom to believe.I very likely will face such situations a few years down the road, so I'm glad he posted this.
And he promises a future post on a similar situation from four years down the road!
Faith, huh, yeah: What is it good for?
Galileo Blogs on some comments by Dr. Michael Hurd regarding Kathy Griffin's anti-religious remarks at the Emmy Awards and concludes with this:
Now I know why the church and everyone in it looked so cheap. Afraid of the responsibility of living, they eagerly sold their souls for chump change to the first con artist who came along who told them that everything really would be okay.Dr. Hurd and Mr. Blogs are completely right that religion is designed to stamp out the idea that we are authors of our own destiny.
This notion pervades religion from its Fundamentalist bottom all the way to its Enlightenment-attenuated "top", and it extends from the moral realm to the political.
I recall attending an orientation lecture for the Catholic college where the notion of "freedom" was being discussed. During the discussion period afterwards, I recall proudly applying the lesson I had been taught, saying something about "the freedom to do what is right" (meaning, to do God's will) being the proper conception of freedom.
This is not too far removed from what Islamic totalitarians speak of when they claim to be fighting for "freedom". I thank Ayn Rand and the man who introduced me to her for -- ahem -- helping me delivering myself from such evil.
But back to the moral level....
This is your brain on the Bible ...
... after a full year.
Andrew Dalton blogs a Newsweek article about a man who lived his life for a year according to the Bible and notes that afterwards, its author reported feeling "overwhelmed by choice". Dalton rightly concludes that, "[R]eligion appeals to people who are 'overwhelmed' by having to think, and who would rather just take orders."
"They will know we are Christians by our love."
[Update: Myrhaf informs me that the letter referenced below is a hoax. No matter. The mark of a good hoax is how plausible it is. Based on personal experience, I can easily imagine some people being jealous that they hadn't thought of this missive on their own.]
It comes as little surprise that the same people who forgo making their own choices in favor of following a tidy list of orders would follow the commands that they proselytize or attempt to force others to live by the same rules. But turning one's critical faculty off can have serious psychological consequences as well.
Anja points us to a good example of this, in the form of a letter to the editor of a newspaper which seethes with a violent hatred directed at "atheists", and blames us for all of America's problems.
When I consider the role that ideas have in shaping human action, and consider the belief systems of others, I am basically indifferent to the choices others make as to what they believe. As I see it, it's their life, and if they want to screw it up, it's their business. I become concerned only when it becomes evident that such people, applying their beliefs to politics, act on their wish to end my political freedom (i.e., to endanger my ability to live by my own lights).
Thus, in exact opposite fashion to the the Christian epistle linked above, I never call for the political persecution of those whose beliefs differ from my own; when I criticize the beliefs of others such criticism is based on facts and logic; and I am comfortable in the knowledge that my ideas will win out in a free marketplace of ideas. This letter-writer obviously feels threatened by the fact that some people think for themselves and her expressed response is to act against them with force.
Fundamentlaists scare me for the exact opposite reason I scare them. They want to physically "stamp me out"; I simply remind them of all the questioning and thinking that they have shirked for their whole lives.
Today: Updated last section. The letter, although quite plausible, is a hoax.