Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pickin' Cherries

Do you like Red Lobster?  What about homosexuals?

Most bible-believing Christians don't realize that the same chapter that condemns homosexuality also prohibits eating shellfish.  The point being that many Christians (as well as believers of other religions) pick and choose what they believe.  They'll say "well, that was the Old Testament" whenever atrocities such as genocide, rape, incest, slavery, or murder are brought up.  Yet, they'll cite things such as the Ten Commandments or the condemnation of homosexuals without care that they're referencing the very same Old Testament.

I've been thinking a lot about this buffet-style approach to faith recently, and I'm sorta on the fence.  One the one hand -- and this is probably due to an afterglow of my once held faith -- but I generally tend to look down on wishy-washy believers.  (Here's an old semi-tongue-in-cheek post on moderates.)  They can't commit to the whole meal that they ordered with their chosen faith.  It's like saying you're a KKK member only because they have great barbecue parties, and ignoring "all that bad stuff" they do.  They can't stomach the evil or idiotic doctrines in their faith, so they pretend like they're not there.

To me, you should be aware of the where and the why for the things you believe about your god.  Those who claim to be "not religious but spiritual" come to mind here. It's strange to think that someone can have all these words, phrases, and ideas without realizing where those things originated, regardless of how much the believer alters them on their own.  In a way, it's just rebooting and rebranding a story, and I guess that tends to irk me (thanks, Hollywood).

On the other hand, I see it as the only possible way a sane human being can live in this day and age and still believe in the nonsense of religion.  As Matt Dillahunty frequently points out, science has dragged religion kicking and screaming into the twenty-first century.  Just look at Galileo, the man that proved the earth rotated around the sun and was not, as the Church vehemently claimed, at the center of the universe.  Now, in the modern world where things like the germ theory of disease and the heliocentric theory are practically common knowledge, you see religious people trying to claim that they had it right all along, and that those other people weren't True Believers™.  Religious people in the modern civilized world are bearing such a huge cognitive dissonance that they almost always have to cherry-pick parts of their faith's cannon in order to function.  Imagine a religious doctrine that goes something along the lines of "Water can't freeze.  Everything in this book is the word of the creator of the universe, and is 100% correct."  Now think of the mental hoops that someone living today would have to jump through in order to adhere to that belief and still be an otherwise rational, sane person.  When you know for a fact that certain claims made by religions can be proven wrong to a monumentally high degree of certainty, but you believe with all your heart that the evidence is contradicted by what you think is the direct word of God, there are only so many ways the situation can resolve itself.

For many, realizing those claims are a mix of fairy tales, folklore, misunderstandings, allegories, and attempts by ignorant people to explain nature is enough to drop the "100% Truth" label altogether.  For others, their interpretation concludes with some of it being allegory and some being truth, and the current unknowns get to remain "true" until science show them to be otherwise, then they get become "allegory-all-along" in the believers mind without skipping a beat.  The moment science advances and shuts a gap that God had previously filled, the believer must either accept reality or ignore it.  Often enough, once ignoring it becomes impossible, they claim their religion had it right all along.

So yeah, I find myself coming down on both sides: you should be a fundamentalist if you're going to believe in a thing.  Don't half-ass it; try to understand everything it encompasses and do everything that entails.  On the other hand, it's a good thing to be a moderate believer.  You're showing that you're not a complete nut-ball, and that you understand how reality can be determined.


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