Up@dawn 2.0

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Tuesday, when we were discussing religion, I had a thought that I wasn't sure how to express in words, but I'm going to attempt to do it now on paper.  Atheism is spreading in the Western world--I'm not saying that's negative or positive; it's just a fact--and simultaneously, religion is gaining a very negative connotation.  To be religious is to be narrow-minded, to forego sound logic when it conflicts with the traditional teachings of the religion.  Even in the middle of the bible belt, I often feel defensive when I say I'm a Christian because I cringe to think those assumptions are being made about me.  And that presents a commonality between atheism and religion that people don't easily see because atheism is thought to be the absence of religion.  So, to better explain this, I'm going to temporarily redefine Religion (capitalizing it to distinguish it from the dictionary.com definition).  [Religion: a phenomenon that occurs when a Group of people rallies around a central idea or set of ideas; natural byproducts of religion are GroupThink (the Group develops a very specific and sometimes very extreme set of beliefs to counter the beliefs of those outside the Group) and vilification of beliefs that aren't upheld by the Group]  Religion is natural human behavior, it's never going to stop, and it can be mountain-moving or trivial, beneficial or detrimental.  Big, mountain-moving Religions like Believing-in-a-God and Believing-in-No-God are especially susceptible to the byproducts, but even two directly conflicting Religions can coexist peacefully if everyone recognizes and promptly puts an end to the byproducts of their own Religions.  In other words, everyone's happy if everyone's respectful.  In class, we termed a disrespectful Religious person an extremist.  Extreme Muslims are known to abuse jihad, extreme Christians are known to stand in the middle of a university being uppity and sanctimonious, and extreme atheists scorn those who believe in the unobservable and unquantifiable.  Extreme atheism isn't the absence of belief but the belief that no one should believe in God, which results in the same conversion mentality that drives other extremist-evangelists.  The flipside is that there are tolerant subscribers to every system of beliefs--they just aren't the poster-children for most recognized religions.  Hopefully all that came out right, and thank you if you got to the end of this extremely long post. :)

8 comments:

  1. Evan Conley10:45 AM CST

    I think you hit on a key point by saying that, so long as people are willing to be respectful towards each other despite the differences between their beliefs, there can be peace between the members of all religions. I also see what you're saying about people being viewed as incompetent or as blind-followers just because they believe in a god. While I understand that it's easy to make judgments about the content of a person's character based off of stereotypes of people within that person's circle, I believe it to be imperative to give each individual a separate chance to show their colors before coming to conclusions.

    Beyond this, I feel that the reasoning behind the beliefs of others is often neglected by those who cast judgment based on things such as religion. I feel that much of the discord that has been wrought in the name of these types of movements is a result of ignorance in all parties involved.

    To try to explain what I mean, I'll use my own experience and beliefs as an example. I'm not religious. Personally, I do not find any evidence either in support of or against the existence of a god to be sufficient for me to come to any sort of conclusion about whether or not a god exists. However, the fact that I hold this belief doesn't make me feel like all Christians are stupid for believing in god, nor that all atheists are arrogant for denying the possibility of his/her/its existence. It makes sense to me why someone might believe in some sort of supreme being; for one, the belief in the existence of a god can give people a great sense of purpose and hope, regardless of whether or not that god exists. I understand that many people draw strength from their belief in God, and if that strength can be used to better the situations in our world, I believe it is worthwhile. However, a serious issue arises when those that do believe in a god are not willing to accept that other people do not (and vice versa.)

    Personally, because I do not feel that the evidence for either argument is sufficient, I try not to get too caught up in trying to determine who is right and who is wrong. Instead, I feel that what is more important is that people are good to each other and treat each other well, regardless of their personal beliefs.

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  2. "I feel that what is more important is that people are good to each other and treat each other well, regardless of their personal beliefs."

    Amen!

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  3. I agree with much of what you are saying, Sarah. I have felt the same way about how people view me when they hear I am a Christian. Many people do see Christians as narrow-minded or illogical, or maybe more appropriately they see religion in that way. It can be hard to refute that opinion because there are many "religious" people who are narrow-minded and condemning, but those few, in my opinion, aren't accurately representing their faith. Christianity is about love and showing it to all people, and personally I view my faith as a relationship with God, not a religion.

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    1. *Or at least religion in the connotation it has taken on in today's society.

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    2. *Or at least religion in the connotation it has taken on in today's society.

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    3. I totally agree Lesley!! Well said!!!!!!

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  4. I enjoyed reading the comments above! I completely agree that religious tolerance is necessary to a peaceful and functional society. In this era, I think we have seen massive increase in religious tolerance... minus extremist groups of course. For the most part, I think the increase in tolerance has been a good thing. After all, America was founded on the freedom of religion.
    I want to be really clear... I am not contradicting the comments above me, merely adding a caveat. I think there is a big difference between tolerance and silence, a difference between freedom OF religion, and freedom FROM it. There is a huge push today to just make religion a private thing... Keep it out of schools, out of politics, out of business, etc! It's a becoming a bit reminiscent of Orwell's 1984, in my opinion.
    I am going to give an example which really troubles me... the idea of the separation of Church and State. I did a thesis on this idea in high school, so I could go into a lot of detail, but I'll spare you that ;) Basically, if we look at how it was intended, the 'separation' was not meant to keep religion out of government, but rather to keep the government from taking control of religion. Without religion to mould or urge or restrain the government when it is needed, government could potentially become an oppressive, stifling entity. This is just one example.
    I'm just trying to point out that, while tolerance is a great thing, it too can be taken to an extreme and that is not good for anyone.

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  5. FQ: What was Epicurus' philosophy school named? (LH 23)

    FQ: (T/F) Pyrrho summarized his philosophy into four questions that anyone who wants to be happy should ask. (LH 18)

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