Archive for the 'Christianity' Category

14
Feb
09

The true meaning of tolerance: co-existance

In a recent post, I talked about how the rift between atheists and theists seem to be getting bigger every day, and not because of the few valid differences that exist between the two ways of thinking, but for reasons that are actually peripheral to the really important ones. I have gotten some flack for it, surprisingly, all from the atheist camp, but the vast majority of it seemed to consist of flawed logic. We claim to be a nation that respects all colors, creeds, and religions, and yet, people are somehow supposed to leave all of those things at the door when they go to work?

It’s like telling a black person, “Yes, we are an equal opportunity employer, however when you come to work, you must leave your skin at the door, so as not to possibly offend someone by your blackness…” Yes, yes, it’s an exaggerated example, but the thing is, this would be easily recognized as race based prejudice, whereas, with religion, it somehow wouldn’t be. If someone can give me a good explanation how this makes sense, besides saying “If your beliefs could possibly offend someone, you must leave it at home.” I’d really like to hear it.

But back to the topic at hand. Today, I ran across an article that confirmed something that I have believed all along. There has never really been a good reason for people to butt heads over creation vs evolution. The Vatican has apparently come to the conclusion that the two are, in fact compatible with each other. To be honest, I really never understood why there was any conflict to begin with. The two are completely separate ways of thinking, but try to describe the same thing, which we all *KNOW* happened. Why *wouldn’t* they be able to coexist side by side?

What people don’t seem to realize is that Science does not provide answers. That is not what science is. Science is a method. Not a solution. It is not an answer. It has it’s failings, and at the end of the day, we have to trust that the experts in their fields have come up with the right interpretations for what they have observed. Anyone who is being honest with themselves will realize that believing in science is an act of faith. Faith, in both the scientific method, and in the people who employ them. And while I value the scientific method and methods of objective analysis above any other way of learning the truth of the world around us, there have been countless examples where the scientific method has not yielded correct answers. Not because the method failed, but because it is limited by our own understanding. Basically, we don’t know what we don’t know. And even science can’t fix that. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something.

I found it interesting that my last post was rather swiftly assaulted by someone I’d consider a “devout” atheist, who simply ignored me (and pretty much almost everything else I said) when asked if they thought Atheism was a belief system or not. I find it interesting because it seems like people would rather seek out the differences between people than the similarities. My pointing out that Atheism is as much a belief system as any theistic system i can think of really ticks some people off, and for the life of me, (as I have been told) “I don’t get it.”

But let’s actually look at the similarities. Atheists claim that blind faith is stupid. Now I actually agree, however we must also admit that the vast majority of us do not understand many of the complex sciences we work with on a daily basis. We take at face value that what our engineers, physicists and doctors tell us is true, because it was determined “scientifically”.  That is an act of faith people. A belief in something we cannot prove for ourselves. And this, in spite of how often “science” proves to be wrong. Theoretical physics is rife with  backtracks and redacts,  medicine is an art as much as a science, and engineering changes with each new material we discover.

That act of faith is almost identical to that which many Christians take when the walk into a church. They blindly leave thier brains at the door, and imbibe whatever spiritual liquor their Imam/Pastor/Priest happens to be pouring that day. And I have heard some things from the mouths of supposedly holy religious men and women that was absolutely unbelievable. Despicable, manipulative, and just plain wrong. But here’s the kicker. I find all kinds of “science fearing’ atheists who are willing to just absolutely devour the exact same garbage spewed by politicians and community leaders, and don’t see that it’s exactly the same. The. Exact. Same. Drivel.

And the result is always the same. Needless violence. Humans have perpetuated just as much violence for secular reasons as religious ones. Nobody, has a lock on the evil that man does to man. You take away religion, and you will find that we have killed each other for lots and lots of other reasons. The truth, is that it is human nature. It is our nature to do what we do. How much different is a door to door sales man from a Jehova’s witness? They are both equally annoying. Why demonize one over the other? Humans simply use the most convenient way to justify doing whatever it is they want to do. The reasons are purely circumstantial. Believe what you want, but there is no escaping it. Science and religion have much more in common that most want to admit.

But the point of my long and winding rant is this. The Vaticans announcement illustrated that it is possible for religion and science to coexist. And  coexistence is what true tolerance is about. They are two radically different ways of describing something we all know happened somehow, and the two may be based on completely different ways of thinking, but that does not mean that they cannot both co-exist. There are no real reasons for either side to be considered inherently offensive to the other, and I wish people would stop thinking and acting as if there are.

The Vatican’s View of Darwin Is Evolving – [NFN – Yahoo News]

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09
Feb
09

Giving relevance to the irrelevant…

I will admit to not understanding the way most people think. On a daily basis I hear things from people that indicates a kind of logic that, to me, seems rather unusual. However I can respect that others have different ways of thinking. It’s what makes humans human.

But one thing that I find really confusing is that I also run into people who say things that should logically contradict their own way of thinking. A recent event regarding a nurse who got suspended for asking one of her patients if they would like her to pray for them got me thinking about it…

Supposedly, even asking was inappropriate, as it could offend someone. And that’s what I don’t understand. Why would an atheist (for instance) be offended by a theist asking to pray for them? She didn’t ask them to convert to Christianity/Islam/whatever. She didn’t even ask *them* to pray. I don’t get it.

There seems to be an unfathomable logical chasm between what people believe and how they behave. Lets say, for example. You believe in one, all powerful, omnipotent, omnipresent God. Then, as Captain Kirk once put it, “What does God need with a star ship?” If all God wants is to see his people at their best, would it really matter what everyone else believed, just so long as they loved their fellow man? I would submit that it doesn’t matter. At least not to any God worth his salt. It only matters to us. We are the ones who have made such a relatively trivial point one of ultimate importance.

Lets also consider the position of the atheist. The devout scientist, for instance, who believes there is no God. And yet wants to see theism of any kind removed from society as a whole. Why? Because religion is evil? If you truly believe there is no God, then what a person believes is also irrelevant, because there is no omnipotent power to back them up is there? And if there is no God, then all evil is the result of man, not religion. Following a religion is not what makes a man evil. It’s what they decide to believe and do that does. And for that reason, any atheist should be railing against men, not God.

People seem forget that it is we who decide to act the way we do. Any Christian will tell you that God has granted man free will. And any atheist should tell you that each mans actions is their own. So seeing as they both agree on the most important issue of all, why do Christians still blame atheism for the decline of our cultural morals, and why do atheists still blame theism for sociopolitical strife?

That makes no sense to me. Instead, why not prioritize a persons intentions, instead of their beliefs? If a person asks if they can pray for you, recognize that they mean you well, and they are doing everything they can possibly do to make it so. If you believe prayer is useless, fine. But is it so hard to accept the gesture for it’s intent, rather than take offense? If the patient didn’t believe in God, then the question should have been no more offensive than the nurse asking whether she could send the patient a “get well soon…” card. Or asking them if they wanted to see a Unicorn, or ask Santa Claus to pay them a visit early…

Or am I just talking crazy?

19
Dec
07

You’d think God would have a better sense of humor…

Christian groups are up in arms here over a new children’s film starring Nicole Kidman and based on an award-winning novel by British author Philip Pullman, accusing it of being anti-religious.

Evil in Pullman’s books is represented by the church, called the Magisterium, whose acolytes kidnap orphans across England to subject them to horrible experiments in the frozen northern wastelands. – [Yahoo/AFP]

Seriously, why would anyone who believes in an all-powerful, almighty God, even trouble themselves with things like this? It’s not as if anyone is going to take the movie literally, and decide that the church is evil. Not to mention that there are a lot of other worse things to be complaining about besides a freakin’ movie.

I could point out that, historically, much treachery, killing and death has occurred in the name of Christianity, and religion in general. Numerous crusaders, jihadi, conquerers, terrorists, etc. and wars have often been perpetuated in “Gods” name, or with “Gods” support. But this shouldn’t worry any honest Christians because we are different, and people don’t do that anymore… Right? Oh… Wait… Nevermind.

But as I was saying, does anyone really think God honestly, really cares about this movie? How could it possibly offend Him? It’s a fairy tale for crying out loud! A work of fiction. Why, in the name of all that is holy, would the Almighty be offended by this? Seriously, given how the world works, you’d think God would have, at the very least, an epic sense of humor…

Christian groups slam new Kidman children’s movie – [Yahoo/AFP]

14
Oct
07

Contrary Clergymen

You know, I am fully aware that priests are human beings, just like everyone else. But I’d hope that, once you became a man/woman of the cloth, you would at least try to leave behind the things that us regular folks are prone to do. But given some of the news I’ve been reading lately, I’m not sure there is any significance to being a priest anymore.

You have perverted priests, priests being annoying, bell ringing farts, priests engaging in petty feminism, and even priests who are, apparently, not above a little drinking, driving and brawling:

Priest Manuel Raul Ortega, who was not wearing clerical dress but was clutching a prayer book when captured, launched himself at the traffic cop who pulled him over earlier this week.

“The individual became very violent because they were going to tow away his car. He attacked a policeman and was taken away,” said transit department spokesman Hector Lozano on Thursday. – [Yahoo/Reuters]

Yes the Church welcomes everyone with open arms. I know. They are only human. Indeed. And they aren’t cops or government officials. But members of the clergy are often looked up to as the moral pillars of a community, and I’m beginning to think that, much like that Indian judge who was sentenced to take law school all over again, these clergymen/women might benefit from another stint in seminary school…

Drunken priest punches cop, jailed – [Yahoo/Reuters]

14
Oct
07

Marriage is not Sexist.

I recently read a surprising article about a Swedish couple who, on their wedding day, walked into church, only to be told by the vicar that she would not let the brides father walk her down the aisle:

“In Sweden we have worked hard in many different ways to eliminate everything that is unequal,” a Lutheran Church vicar in the Stockholm region, Yvonne Hallin, told AFP.

She said she would not allow the custom in her parish, and noted that Stockholm’s bishop issued a recommendation in 2003 that pastors discourage it.

Couples who marry “are equal when it comes to finances, politics, values … but when they come to the church … the woman suddenly turns into a man’s property,” she said. – [Yahoo/AFP]

I’m sorry people. I am all about equality, womens rights, and marriage uniting two equal halves into sacred whole, but to be perfectly honest, this sounds to me like a bunch of passive-aggressive feminist manure. I’m really sorry if you find my view of this offensive. I really am. But marriage is a religious tradition, that has nothing to do with secular ideas of feminism, or cultural relevancy.

If you are Christian, it is more than that, it is a sacred tradition that binds two people together in holy matrimony. No Christian woman who enters into marriage today does so with the intention of being “sold” to her husband. And if you want to get theological about it, Marriage is a ceremony based purely on biblical principles, and even though the bible asks wives to “honor and obey” their husbands, husbands are equally required to “fulfill their marital duties to their wives” and even more importantly, to “love their wives as they love themselves”. It says nothing about “ownership”.

Somehow militant feminists conveniently always dismiss, gloss over or even ignore those other parts of the bible. Marriage is what the married parties make of it, not the priest, not the bishop, not even the Pope. What’s even worse is that this pastor started spouting more nonsense about how the father walking the daughter down the aisle is some American / British movie tradition, etc., etc., etc… ad nauseum. What?

What in the name of all that is holy does that have to do with anything? There are so many traditions, in many countries, that have their roots in the influence of other cultures, that this is one of the most asinine arguments I have ever heard. I am no clergyman, but this sounded a whole lot like this vicar was using her position as some sort of feminist soapbox. And honestly, who cares where it came from?

Fathers have different relationships with their daughters than they do with their sons. Not better, not worse, not unequal. Just different. Fathers feel a lot of different things about their daughters getting married, and walking them down the aisle has become a rite of closure, of letting go, for them. It doesn’t matter where it came from, it serves a practical purpose, and just because someone disagrees with it doesn’t give anyone the right to tell someone else they can’t do it.

She kept talking about equality, and at the same time she was blatantly trampling over the rights of every single member of that marriage party, the mother, the father, the bride, the groom, everyone, in the name of “Equality”. Yeah. That’s real equal. Your beliefs trumps their beliefs because you are the pastor. Hogwash!

And what was even more appalling to me was that she waited until their wedding day, probably knowing full well that the father expected to walk his daughter down the aisle, to tell them that she wouldn’t allow it. I think that was just manipulative, petty and childish. And unbecoming of a woman of the cloth. Absolutely unbelievable.

I’m done. Time to get off my soapbox…

Dads walking daughters down the aisle, a no-no in Stockholm – [Yahoo/AFP]

10
Oct
07

Is nothing sacred anymore?

Never mind, don’t answer, it’s a rhetorical question. Though I think there really are truly few sacred things  in life anymore. And apparently a Bible is not one of them. Here’s proof:

A Singaporean judge sentenced a man to four months in jail for stealing a Bible, admonishing him with Scripture before hauling him off to prison, The Straits Times newspaper reported Wednesday. – [Yahoo/Reuters]

Ok, so at the risk of revealing/betraying what used to be my “good” Christian upbringing, my only thought is this: Of all the things to steal, a Bible is as good as any. And probably better than most. Why? Because at least now, he may learn something interesting.

And no, I am not a Bible thumper. Far from it. My approach to Christianity, and theism in general, is a little more pragmatic (for lack of a better word) than most. But the theist in me is still curious about why this guy felt that a Bible would be a lucrative score…

Thou shalt not steal — especially the Bible – [Yahoo/Reuters]




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