Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Religious bigotry

I was having an interesting discussion over on with Jennifer Snow, the blogger there. The discussion was about how individuals defines themselves. Basically we were disagreeing on this, when Jennifer ended one of her posts with, "I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, since your profile indicates you are religious."

It does? Feel free to look at my profile, but I miss the part which says I am religious. Oh wait, I know: I live in Georgia. I must be a Southern Baptist, right? WRONG!

(While I do believe in God, I don't espouse any particular religion. I believe that truth is universal.)

I tried to continue the discussion, although I did add, "And what exactly is wrong with religion, or religious views? Maybe I am reading too much into your comment, but you sound like a KKK member responding to a black man."

That set her off:

"There are many things wrong with being religious and religious views. If I thought otherwise, I would not be an atheist; it would make me more than just a bit of a hypocrit.

Now, as to whether YOU having those beliefs has any effect on ME, that's another story. In a free society, you can believe whatever you like and I truly cannot rouse myself to care. In the words of Thomas Jefferson, what does it matter to me whether my neighbor believes there are twenty gods or no god? It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

It has been my experience in the past that no one argues so strenuously over such a small semantic issue unless they have an agenda to promote. If you have garnered from the severity of my reply that I am about to cease humoring your promotion of same on my blog, well then I've successfully conveyed my point. Until now I have refrained from not publishing your further comments on this entry because that would be rude. However, since you've now found it necessary to make aspersions as to my moral character, I will not consider it rude any longer.

Aspersions to your "moral character" Jennifer? You proved your religious bigotry with your first comment: "There are many things wrong with being religious and religious views."

Consider this: The overwhelming majority of the people in the world ARE religious and have religious views.

Or perhaps it was the snobby comment you made earlier about the presumed religious nature of my arguments, even though I mentioned God nowhere? In fact, the reference I made earlier in the argument was to "What is Man?", by Mark Twain, which is one of the most atheistic writings ever made.

At no point was I ever proselytizing. I have no agenda. I was merely arguing my beliefs, just as you were arguing your beliefs. I was enjoying the discussion, until you dismissed my beliefs because you assumed they were coming from a religious person.

By the way, thank you for allowing me to believe what I want. Although I suspect, in your mind, you are simply allowing me to wallow in my ignorance.

The truth is that you put a label on me. That label, in your mind, lowers your opinion of me, and my beliefs. I don't mind being told that I am wrong because someone believes differently. I do mind being told I am wrong because of a label. That is the nature of bigotry.


Jennifer Snow said...

I apologize for my error, certainly, since I misremembered your profile contents. Sheesh. What a mistake to make, especially considering how easy it is to check.

I need a vacation.

Myrhaf said...

Leaving aside the rest of this dispute, which I have not followed, I just want to comment on one statement:

"There are many things wrong with being religious and religious views."

This statement is true. Two examples of things wrong with religion are the idea of God (religious metaphysics) and the idea of faith (religious epistemology). There is no evidence for the existence of God. Faith is the belief in ideas that are not based in the evidence of the senses.

It is also true that most people on earth are religious, but this does not make Jennifer's statement false and it does not make it bigotry. As I see it, religious ideas are wrong, but this does not necessarily mean that religous people are bad or immoral; it just means they're wrong. Some of them are bad.

I know a lot of religious people (who doesn't?) that I can happily play golf or break bread with. Most American Christians are pretty good people because they hold their religious beliefs inconsistently. If you want consistent Christianity, see Augustine.

EdMcGon said...

Jennifer, apology accepted.

Myrhaf, religion is like a tool. In and of itself, it is not a bad thing. It is how it gets used that makes it bad. In other words, people are what make it good or bad.

A hammer can be used to pound a nail, or it can be used to kill someone. Does that mean there is something wrong with the hammer?

Let's look at it from the other side: Would you ever assume a person had certain qualities merely because they were religious? Other than a belief in God, there is not much you can assume about religious people.

Jennifer Snow said...

You can assume that they place blind faith over reason in at least some respects, although of course you cannot know to what extent they will do so.

In my experience, this makes religious people dangerously unpredictable at best. You can go along fine with them for years and then suddenly an issue comes up which they've decided has nothing to do with reason, and you're hung out to dry with no way to argue or answer them.

EdMcGon said...

Jenn, blind faith is a dangerous thing period. Blind faith in science can be every bit as dangerous as blind faith in religion. How many times do you hear about a study which says one thing, only to have it contradicted by a later study?

My own religious beliefs center on my own observation that the universe makes too much sense for there NOT to be a greater intelligence/power behind it.

While I agree there are some people who make religion the centerpiece of their existance, my own personal view is that God put each of us here for a reason, and worship of God is NOT our primary purpose.

Think about it: If you were the ultimate being in a universe, why would you care what some insignificant beings on the third rock from a star thought about you? It would not be a central purpose to your existance. It might be nice to have, but it's not going to make or break your millenia.

There is much in religion which is anthropocentric. This is understandable for the time periods when most religions were developed. However, I think mankind has evolved culterally and intellectually from those times. It is time for our religions to do the same.