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Tuesday: One more and I’ll stop (for awhile)

Blame Luther for breaking up the band

So, the “religious liberty” meme is going to be the one to beat this year.  We’re all a bunch of heathens and we need religion.  That’s what the argument’s going to be.  If only we lead more virtuous lives with the guidance of some religion, we’d all be more prosperous, more fulfilled human beings and we wouldn’t need so much government assistance.  The problem with this country is that we’ve gone too far away from God and now is the time to put him back in our lives, put him front and center, so that we can weather the economic austerity that is coming our way.  If we play by the rules and love God with all our hearts, we will be blessed.  If we don’t, we get what’s coming to us.

And the reason religious liberty has to be so gosh darned important is that without it, it’s harder to keep everyone in line, feeling guilt and shame about their personal circumstances.  If there’s no guilt or shame, people won’t blame themselves for all of the rotten things that have happened to them.  No, they might start figuring out that they’ve been had, suckered in by really ruthless financial industry psychopaths who believe that what’s theirs is theirs and what’s yours is theirs.  So, to make sure we are not watching what they do, the religious liberty thing is going to get a lot of attention.

The problem is that that’s only going to work for some people.  The rest of us know that the bible is not an accurate historical document and it’s unlikely to be divinely inspired if there are multiple divinities that inspired it.  And for those of us in the life sciences, evolution is non-negotiable.  I couldn’t do my work without knowing all about natural selection.  The fact that I can do an evolutionary trace on the proteins I work with is pretty strong evidence that evolution is true.  We’ve seen the results of prayer.  Um, it doesn’t really work all that well.  And on and on and on.

The thing is, I don’t have any problem with the idea that YOU can believe all of the things about religion that you choose to believe.  If you want to think that a bunch of celibate old guys in red beanies in Rome, who kept the organization they were in when they changed religions in the fourth century, have all of the answers to guide your life, knock yourself out.  If you want to believe that Jesus is coming to rescue you from all of the rottenness of the world and the pedophiles and kidnappings and rapes of pretty blonde women and the murder of innocent, sweet little babies and that those of us who don’t believe absolutely everything you say are going to suffer from a really horrific and painful death while you hover above it all and watch us die in torment, go ahead.  Everybody in the world has their own particular and personal belief system that may be a slightly different variation of their neighbor’s, or it may be radically different.  And that’s OK.  Believe whatever you want.

But if you’re going to bring that belief system into the public square and insist that we all live by the rules created in 1300 BCE in spite of all of the progress that we have made in the past 3000 years, you’d better have a really good reason for it and should be able to  demonstrate definitively why imitating baby farmer Michelle Duggar and her ultra conservative family is better than any other alternative.  In fact, I have watched enough of the Duggars to know that their philosophy has a lot more of the liberal tradition than they would care to admit.  They have friends and neighbors that have waaaaay too many children stuffed into tiny little houses.  The Duggars don’t lecture these people and tell them to keep an aspirin between their knees.  No, they help them build a new house.  They donate their time and money and materials.  They feed poor people at soup kitchens.  They never ask anything in return.

But Jim Bob Duggar is a Republican and the Duggars have chosen to endorse Rick Santorum.  The Duggars send mixed messages.  Anti tax Republicans reject EVERYTHING the Duggars say they are about.  They want to withhold money, assistance and help from anyone they think is undeserving.  I’m sorry but I’m not sure that the families that the Duggars help are all that much different from any other family they don’t know personally that has a lot children and insufficient space and resources.

The difference seems to be religion.  The Duggars’ friends and the poor they serve are Christians.  And I just have to wonder, is it really moral to be so choosey?  Should it matter what religion a person is if they need help, food, housing or protection from greedy conmen in business and the banks?  Isn’t that what the parable of the Good Samaritan is all about?  (BTW, the parables and beatitudes of Jesus and the details of Occupy Jerusalem Temple are about the only things in the New Testament worth rescuing)

Are we to believe that the Duggars, a good, kind hearted family, would not be a good kind hearted family without their religion?  And if their religion demands good kind heartedness, aren’t they obligated to extend that to others outside of their religion?  And if they ask nothing in return from their neighbors who are Christians, should they expect something in return for all of their help from non-Christians?  Isn’t it possible that good, kind heartedness benefits everyone and makes the world a better place regardless if God is intervening?  Wouldn’t God want you to be nice to everyone, even if he isn’t watching? And wouldn’t you reach more people if you could pool your resources and figure out a more systematic way of helping everyone?  And wouldn’t that come back to you in the form of less crime, more healthy, happy people and more prosperity?  The Duggars are almost there.  They just need to include the whole world in their benevolence and learn to judge the rest of the world with as much generosity and compassion as they do their Christian friends.

Anyway, I got off topic again. Where was I?

Oh, yeah, before you start imposing your religious liberty on others, at least admit that you are also obligated to have other people’s religious liberty imposed on you in return.  But if that is not acceptable, let’s narrow our choices.  Before we make new rules to live by, let’s all agree on which God we’re going to pay attention to.  I don’t mean some Mesopotamian gods that got edited to a single entity and a creation story based on some ancient Babylonian mythology.  Let’s get real.  Let’s look at all of the religions and investigate all claims equally.  There has to be a one true religion among all of the religions in the world.  That’s the one we should follow.  So, I propose that we get appoint a committee of believers and non-believers.  After all, Santorum says that even non-believers have a part to play in shaping government in the public square just like the faithful.  So, all interested parties, believers and non-believers, should get together and decide which religion has the greatest credibility, the most verifiable miracles, the best predictive values and the most moral code.  The scientists should be particularly helpful here.  When we can all come to an agreement on which religion that is, that’s the religion we should pick to influence our government.  After all, it wouldn’t be fair to deprive the other religious adherents of the one true God.  But if the Catholics lose, they’re going to have to sit on their cassocks and shut up.  Same goes with the Evangelical Christians.  For all we know, we might all end up as Sufis or Scientologists.  But if it turns out that they have the one true religion, it would be wrong to not follow them.

Liberty doesn’t mean the freedom to just worship any god willy-nilly.  That’s an affront to the very concept of an supernatural authority figure.  He doesn’t want religious liberty, with everyone picking their own way to worship him.  He wants there to be rules about what you can and can not do religiously.  He wants you to pay attention to what he says and obey without question.  So, please, let’s not have anymore Catholic politicians acting like adolescents without any parental supervision, making their own decisions about what is “free”.  Adolescents have no sense of their own mortality and mortality is a very serious business, requiring sober reflection, not liberty.  Rick Santorum and the other religious Ricks owe it to themselves and their mortal souls, as well as ours, to stand for one religion and one religion only.  Let’s not shrink from the task before us and let us resolve to find out what that religion is.

Can I get an Amen?

In the meantime, Dr. Laurence Krauss gives an authoritative lecture on Science and Religion and suggest that you don’t necessarily have to sacrifice one for the other.  Like, who died and made him god?

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22 Responses

  1. And once we take care of the right wing religious nutcases, perhaps we can turn our attention to the crazy religious beliefs of the left .
    {{facepalm}}

    • Holy Rollers like Santorum are called by “God” to inflict their beliefs on others. Try telling them to leave you alone, but you might as well be talking to a wall. Maybe I’m just jaded and really sick of putting up with these people. Just recently my mom tried to set me up with a 35-year-old illiterate guy (I’m 21) who told me I was surrounded by demons and started twitching like I was doing something to him–and I was just sitting there.
      Churches in Cleveland will give food and shelter to the homeless as long as they go to mass. We had a debate about that in one of my classes a few semesters ago. A well meaning young black guy who was really religious and from the inner city said that secular organizations that helped the needy “fed them, but only physically.” I disagreed. The best sustenance you give a person is self-esteem.
      I know there are believers out there who aren’t like that- I know them, I was partially raised by them, ect. They’re those people that live their faith through good works and it doesn’t matter to them what religion you are. But they seem scarce these days, and it’s probably because these are tough times

      • People like Santorum aggravate me. They don’t “get” that their attempts at forcing people to have the relationship they have with God are more of a turn off to people to whom faith may not come as naturally or that might not be meant to have that specific relationship(I mean it stands to reason that if we are all different that just maybe God might have a diverse game plan when it comes to His relationships with us.) I’ve seen many people turn away from a relationship with God because they felt they were being coerced and bullied by His followers and I can’t say that I don’t understand what they don’t get about the term “free will.”

      • Holy Rollers like Santorum are called by “God” to inflict their beliefs on others.

        Isis….These people ARE DANGEROUS!! Just as dangerous ( and in some cases even more so ) than the whack jobs in the Middle East!!!

        The only difference between the religious nut cases there and the one’s we have here are….ours wear suits!!!!!

    • And what beliefs are those, exactly? In a clearly stated way?

      • I’m also wondering that. 😕

      • How can I clearly state this? The left is fully invested in beliefs that aren’t supported by evidence. For example, for some reason, they’ve got a real problem with genetically modified crops. That is not to say that we shouldn’t be careful about what we genetically engineer. But the human species had been deliberately genetically modifying their crops for thousands of years. With modern science, it’s now possible to do it more quickly and efficiently. That’s all there is to it. And having had relatives that worked in Ag research, I can tell you that the FDA is not easy to appease. They frequently go overboard with their criteria. But some elements of the left will not believe it. Just a few years ago, they were all frothing at the mouth that genetically modified crops were causing colony collapse. They were SURE Monsanto was killing the bees.
        Then there is the whole pharma disaster. They’re absolutely convinced that pharma is a.) trying to kill them with poison or b) withholding the cure for cancer or c) causing autism with vaccines and thimerosol. That last item is not only stupid, it’s dangerous. After the Super Bowl this year, there was an outbreak of measles in Indiana. It happened because too many yuppy parents won’t vaccinate their kids for fear of autism even though that theory had been proven to be wrong.
        That’s just the tip of the iceberg. How do we account for so much scientific ignorance on our own side? How do let all the hysterical irrational overestimation of risk go unchecked? My theory is that there are quite a few people on the left who don’t understand science any better than some people on the right. But we flatter ourselves that we are so much smarter because * we* believe in evolution. I’ll bet you could find many people on the left who can’t explain how natural selection works but because someone they admire says it does, they believe it too. The evidence of this scientific ignorance is glaringly apparent whenever I see stuff like yet another rant over GM crops. Before you criticize it, you should be required to know what is involved from gene to FDA.

        • I think most of the suspicion of GM foods comes from anti-corporate sentiment.

          The corporations have put themselves in the predicament of The Boy Who Cried “Wolf!”. They lie to us so often that many of us have started assuming that they always are lying to us. I’ll admit to harboring a great deal of such reflexive suspicion myself.

          • You realize don’t you that you lack credibility if you believe this crap. If you want to fight the corporations for being greedy fucks, it helps if you don’t believe things that they can laugh at. It makes you look unhinged, stupid and unreasonable. You will be much more effective if you don’t fall for the junk science and if you learn what they’re really doing. In fact, I think you make easier for them to get away with murder because their detractors, who will believe any crazy claim about GM crops, can be dismissed even when they have a legitimate complaint.
            Take an example from the Occupy group that sent a letter recently to the SEC. It was well written and knowledgeable. The Ovcupy group used the strategy of really understanding their topic so they could criticize and propose solutions in an intelligent manner. If only occupy science would take a clue. But this is the way to do it. If you want to beat the cop operations at their own game, you have to learn their business and know when you’re being bamboozled and when you’re not. That way, they will know that the jig is up.

  2. You might enjoy this video since religion is something you like to explore.

    I

    • Actually, religion is not something I like to explore. Unfortunately, the religious keep getting up in our grill about it and I think we’d better figure out what’s driving them before they drag is back to the stone age by the hair.
      It feels like my entire life has revolved around an issue that I have zero interest in. Eventually, the US s going to become more like western Europe, largely full of non-believers. We can do this tge quiet way through attrition or we can make this really ugly. The right wing religious have been provoked by their politicians to go ugly because there aren’t many elections left where the religious can be duped into doing what the wealthy want.
      Expect this subject to get more nasty as the year goes on.

  3. Why must there be only one true religion?

    Why assume that, if a Deity exists, S/He would be so petty as to condemn people for honest mistakes–that S/He has an ego like we talking apes do?

    To answer my own question, since we talking apes have yet to encounter intelligent life equal to ourselves that we can communicate with (some of the cetaceans may have intelligence on our level, but we have not deciphered their language yet), we have only our own psychology to go on, and so naturally assume that a non-human intelligence, for example a god or gods, would feel and think as we do.

    • You’re assuming that god is a rational being, willing to overlook petty peccadillos like questioning whether he/she really exists. But I don’t think we should leave that to chance. It’s too dangerous to our mortal souls to presume what god thinks. No, I’m afraid there is no solution to this problem but to find out exactly which religion is doing it right and then everyone convert to it.

      • I realize that suggestion is sarcastic rather than serious, but it is not funny.

        Coerced conversion is sinful. It violates the human right to freedom of conscience.

        It’s also useless to God; S/He can only work through willing followers.

        The churches have often failed to realize that, but then, since Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, it was, and is, all too often more concerned with propping up unrighteous social orders–and maintaining its earthly power and privileges within those social orders–than with doing the LORD’s work of meeting the material and spiritual needs of God’s adopted children, us talking apes.

  4. The biggest religious problem with this country is not the common people getting away from God, if they even have done that–it’s that the elite, especially the “financial industry psychopaths” and other Malefactors Of Great Wealth, and their bought politicians and media courtesans, have gotten away from God. They take His/Her name in vain to make the common people feel their plight is their own fault, so that the elite can more effectively break the Commandment against theft.

    One of their most effective methods is to push the bizarre notion that the Deity is obsessed with regulating the sexual behavior of us talking apes. There’s that human isolation again–we tend to be obsessed with human sexual behavior, so we assume that a non-human intelligence would be obsessed with it as well. :mrgreen:

    • I’m not sure that God has anything to do with it.
      You know, it would be really nice if more people would acknowledge non-believers or people such as myself whose concept of “god” is radically different from theirs. As far as I’m concerned there is no God that anyone should be getting back to. It wouldn’t matter if they were rich or poor. Taking his/her name in vain has no effect on god. And no one should be stealing from anyone. That’s pretty much a universal commandment.
      Let’s try to have conversations without invoking the deity, shall we?

  5. “Let’s try to have conversations without invoking the deity, shall we?”

    I thought the topic of this post had to do with religion. Isn’t trying to talk about religion without mentioning one or more deities kind of like trying to talk about chemistry without mentioning the elements? 😕

    • I guess I have had it up to here {gesturing to top of head} with the assumption that there is a god that requires our attention or who is paying attention to us. My mind doesn’t fit that frame anymore. This is, I think, at the crux of the problem with secularists vs the religious. Even those of us who are agnostics or panentheists have moved on from the concept of an accessible, personal god. And repeated references to a god seem to be going backward in solving problems.
      I guess I would prefer that humans try to work things out without help and only when they have no other answer should they appeal to a god. Putting it the other way around may make humans give up too early.

      • About your last paragraph–I pretty much have given up already. I see no hope for this life, this world, this natural universe. The last of those three remains a fascinating thing to study, but I hold a dismal opinion of it as a place to live. After all, it is the amoral, pitiless, un-nurturing nature of the natural environment itself that (mis)shaped us to be the horrid beings we are. I don’t think humanity will make it. We’re too much the unfreeable slaves of our “lizard brains”.

        Really, social and political matters are just too depressing these days. Maybe I should avoid them.

        • Or maybe just be Buddha-natured about them. Read about them for intellectual stimulation but without becoming emotionally attached to what they mean or portend.

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