Saturday, October 30, 2010

Fear Not

Philosophy is the tool with which to seek and discover religion.

Friedrich Von Schlegel
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I am amazed at otherwise intelligent, rational people who can sacrifice all reason when they enter a church or other religious institution. People will listen with no comment and with some undeserved degree of respect and belief to the ignorant, egregious and often belligerent interpretation of their sacred writings. One religionist is praying for the failure and death of our president, another is advocating burning the books of a different religion, another is molesting children, one is claiming the divine right to turn people out of their homes, another is calling for homosexuals to be hung to death, and another is ordering a woman to be stoned to death for adultery. What madness!

Extreme religious fundamentalism is the scourge of the world and it has become rabid, a pandemic. All religious texts call for love, compassion, charity, forgiveness and brotherliness. But instead of hands of help the brotherhoods and sisterhoods of the earth are holding out sharp claws.

Margaret Thatcher wrote "Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy." I know for a fact that there are many intelligent Christians in this country and elsewhere. Some of the most important philosophers of the past and present have been Christians. They are hardly being heeded today. Instead there is a large group of professing Christians who are buried in a mental tunnel which leads nowhere. They will vehemently claim that this is a Christina nation. Well, it is. It is also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation and a nation of Atheists. Only a non thinker can't understand and accept that.

Ordinary people who can express themselves on their opinions about things back off into the tunnel when the subject of their religion comes up. Well, the Bible says so and so. My Pastor says such and such. I want to ask, "Yes, but what do YOU say?" One doesn't have to throw out one's Bible in order to think for oneself.

Now we are confronted with a silly argument about why the founding fathers never meant there to be a separation between religion and government. Here's the First Amendment to the Constitution
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

How can that be interpreted to mean that Congress is obliged to recognize one particular faith or set of beliefs as the official set for the country any more than it obliges it to allow only a certain set of speeches to be made? Many times I hear someone citing what the founding fathers really meant by the Constitution. An interpretation that is merely an opinion. Here's what Thomas Jefferson, the American philosopher and statesman who wrote that amendment, had to say: "Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear."

Fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the unexplainable. Fear of difference. Fear of others who are not like us. The unconscious, unacknowledged fear that maybe our faith is not right no matter how many words have been written about it. The deep down hidden fear of offending a God we do not understand. It is safer to hide in the mental tunnel of belief than to face the fears and "question with boldness" the reason for our faith.

Dana Bate - The Vagabond

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5 comments:

Lori said...

The first century Bereans were commended for carefully examining the scriptures to see if what they were being told was true. (Acts. 17:11) That's what we should all do. As for those who are questioning the constitution and separation of church and state, they're going to read it the way they want to read it, because they don't want to reason on it correctly. It doesn't fit their agenda.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

What a good post! I think our country was founded on freedom. So many everywhere have been persecuted for their beliefs. Not all beliefs are sound but the fact is that we are free to believe what ever our choice is.

Rene said...

John 16:2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Fear of thinking for yourself.

Big Mark 243 said...

they're going to read it the way they want to read it, because they don't want to reason on it correctly. It doesn't fit their agenda.
-Lori

That sounds about right.

But I have to disagree with you about the texts of the large monotheistic religions. None of the survive the test of simple, interested parsing. You can find and justify pretty much any kind of hatred for a person or a group. That is intent, a purpose that was meant to change the social power dynamic, taking away from those who could contribute and creatively build society by making a class of people who were supposedly special and had insite to what they said was divine.

That is what religion does and I think it was created much like how any splinter religion or cult was create. A person got up and made spurious claims until he got enough people to believe him... he would shape his platform to benefit those who followed some, but him, greater.

Religion is the oldest and most basic scam perpetuated on mankind. The idea of their being an 'intermediary' between me and the creater of the universe sometimes is laughable.

The peaceful aspect of religion is not much different from the peaceful aspects of anything... its cruelty is the same kind of cruelty espoused by tyrants and demagogues throughtout history. If the idea of religion was wholly about peace, love, respect for man and all life, then that is what would society be about. In cultures that have managed to survive untouched by the corruptbility of the civilized world, you don't see this predjudice and avarice that you find in religion, and can find in its history. It is how and why the European swept through North America and Africa... and why the culture of the East exists, as it was able to withstand the influence of the west, powered by fables and mythology. You see that they still have strong elements of their history and indigeonous faith, which is crucial to their culture.

Well, didn't mean to ramble. My finger wouldn't stop and before you know it...