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my big book of little catastrophes
I ate WHAT?
why the free pass? 
7th-Feb-2006 08:17 am
lotus
My little anti-religion rant on Sunday night prompted two people to unfriend me. That's ok, one was an obvious faker and should go hang out on myspace.com and the other was a lurker I've never found interesting in any way. No loss for me. My goal wasn't to offend, but I certainly realized it might be a consequence and I was prepared for it.

A friend said my post was one of those "like people, hate humanity" things. I guess there's some truth in that. I can overlook things about people that I consider character flaws if they aren't relevant to our interaction - I have more than a few coworkers who are Republican but I'm still able to work with them fine, and I almost never hold discussions about astrology against people. I know a man who is a Jesuit priest and he's someone I like and respect. We talk about religion sometimes, and I have to say there are few conversations more engaging than discussing religious theory with a Jesuit. He's a good guy and I like him. I've never broached the topic of my previous post with him, and I don't know if I ever will. If I did, it might be an interesting time, heh.

One of the comments I made in my previous post was that people seem to give others a free pass when it comes to religious beliefs. So many people are reluctant to criticize another's religious beliefs, much more than any other irrational belief. I mean, if you believed that eating Pop Rocks and drinking Pepsi will make your stomach explode, people would tell you that you're wrong. If you walked around saying the world was flat, no one would hesitate to inform you that you were woefully ignorant or just plain nuts. So why does no one challenge people for their irrational religious beliefs? Is it what I said, that it's a silent conspiracy of mutual tolerance of religious belief as a defense of one's own beliefs? Or is there something else going on?
Comments 
7th-Feb-2006 04:38 pm (UTC)
wow, I keep trying to offend people into dropping me. Fuck 'em if they can't allow you your opinion. However the feeling could also be that of "He totally doesn't think like me and I don't want my ideals challenged even in my own chattering brain, so i should drop him and avoid that occuring."

Too blunt and uncompassionate?
8th-Feb-2006 05:05 am (UTC)
Obviously I'm just a bad person if I would say something that would offend someone.
8th-Feb-2006 05:55 am (UTC)
obviously, it is status quo if I say something that would offend someone. :P
7th-Feb-2006 04:46 pm (UTC)
I've already expressed my support of your anti-religious rant. However, my constant belief is that the freedom to NOT believe must defend the freedom TO believe. If we were to remove from anyone else the ability to have their own belief system, then we remove from them the right to come to their own conclusions, and thereby remove that same right/ability from ourselves.

I guess this implies that the "mutual tolerance" theory is what's going on... but I'll take that over being labelled a heretic and hung anyday. :P
7th-Feb-2006 05:10 pm (UTC)
Good point. Freedom of thought is important, and I agree that allowing others the freedom to think things you don't agree with is fundamental to having a free society. I'm reminded of Galileo being branded a heretic by the Church for his scientific views on the nature of the solar system - I'd hate to see that sort of oppression again. But it's one thing to oppress someone for rational thought, and another to allow someone a free pass to engage in irrational behavior based on irrational beliefs. I guess the problem is you can't always easily tell the difference.
7th-Feb-2006 06:02 pm (UTC)
hmmm it makes me think that the Religions Problem is possibly a matter of society just lending too much weight and emphasis.

people can "believe" whatever the fuck they want, but entire nations and cultures need not be under the jurisdiction of those beliefs. this should go for our country as well as all others.

Religions should be reocognized similar to Gym Workouts. some do 'em, some don't, some are manic about 'em, some are not - but it's merely a personal hobby, more or less. and to wage war or even protest over something so minor only means that the "religious" people doing so are deeply disturbed and need to be medicated or jailed.

Bush would be first on the list, as his Terror War is totally faith-based (in his own little head). the Islamist Fundies would be after him, etc.

7th-Feb-2006 06:17 pm (UTC)
"Religions should be recognized [as] similar to Gym Workouts..."
Thank you, Marky. I had recently forgotten why I find you so endearing. This was a nice reminder. <smirk>
7th-Feb-2006 07:06 pm (UTC)
penis!
7th-Feb-2006 07:58 pm (UTC)
yeah well... you just kind of wrecked it again, but whatever... it's ok.

LOL
7th-Feb-2006 06:15 pm (UTC)
"I mean, if you believed that eating Pop Rocks and drinking Pepsi will make your stomach explode, people would tell you that you're wrong."
Well, I think it would be a different story, if people reacted differently to being told that they were wrong about that.

I mean, let's consider the plausible ways someone might react to being told that they are wrong about the pepsi-and-pop-rocks thing:
  • "Really? Because I heard it from a bunch of people... oh well."
  • "Well, have you ever tried it? Then how do you know it doesn't happen?"
  • "Whatever dude.... go ahead and do it then, see if I come to your funeral!"
...and so on. However, you don't expect someone to react with:
  • "HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT!?!?? THAT'S A TERRIBLE THING TO SAY! NOW MY LIFE IS DEVOID OF MEANING!! AARRRGGHHHH!!!"


If people did react that way to being wrong about pop-rocks, then probably others wouldn't feel as comfortable pointing it out to them.
7th-Feb-2006 06:59 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, I forgot that taking away the thing that gives someone's life meaning is just a rotten thing to do. But you're right about that - I think the strength of people's reactions has a lot to do with one's willingness to confrong them on things. Eventually you get tired of being crucified for trying to slap sense into people.
7th-Feb-2006 06:21 pm (UTC)
The sort of subtle knife you need to sever religious belief systems from truly held intrinsic beliefs and faith doesn't exist. I don't believe it's possible to explain to a person how the statements of their religion are not necessarily the intentions of the belief system until they understand it themselves. How do you tell someone who isn't willing/ready/interested in hearing it that their extreme religious figure speaks the word of man even though he is couching it as the word of god? You don't. People hear the words of prophets and priests as the words of god because they choose to.

We are pack animals, if not outright herd animals. If my will was behind it, I could sway many to do what I wished. Charisma is often stronger than faith, because faith requires responsibility. Charisma provides an alternative to responsibility... charisma can appeal to faith and override things we believe to be right or wrong. Who among us would really stand up and confront the charismatic prophet, understanding that the line between faith and force is narrower than we can perceive?

I don't think we can win in a debate about faith, feeling, religion. Maybe that's one of the core reasons why people don't confront one another over this. Plus, we've been told that we have the right to believe whatever we want. This is a deeply held belief because it requires little responsibility. Who among us can tell us that what we believe is wrong?

I believe that I'm responsible for my actions, and that there are consequences (good/bad) for them. I believe deeply that we must master individual responsibility before we can master cultural or social responsibility. If there was a formulaic approach, or if worship could get us there, it would have likely been found or worked out already. We're all already gods, we just don't know it yet.
7th-Feb-2006 10:26 pm (UTC)
The sort of subtle knife you need to sever religious belief systems from truly held intrinsic beliefs and faith doesn't exist.

Indeed. I've read so many fictional stories about various messiahs and prophets being frustrated by people elevating their word into something that turns their message into its opposite. It's a familiar scenario. But memetic parasitism virtually guarantees that any compelling meme will be co-opted by a parastic meme that takes advantage of its popularity. Thus we have the Catholic Church, which has perverted almost every statement attributed to Jesus Christ into a way to control people and amass political power. How sad.
7th-Feb-2006 11:28 pm (UTC)
Yep.

Snow Crash is still one of my favorite books because it turned me on to the idea of religion-as-meme. Plus, I mean, c'mon... hackers and swords.
7th-Feb-2006 09:49 pm (UTC)
Well, I liked your rant. :) But that's just me.
7th-Feb-2006 10:27 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I'll rant for you anytime you need one!
8th-Feb-2006 03:21 am (UTC)
I think that Jesuit would very much enjoy that conversation. It gets to the very core of what he's doing. I suspect he's had it many times...though unlikely with many people as intellectually strong as you.

I'm assuming we're talking about the same Jesuit. :-)
8th-Feb-2006 03:35 am (UTC)
just don't draw any cartoons of Muhammed. ;)

ironically a lot of reaction to criticizing religion stems from the time honored tradition of one religion persecuting another...
8th-Feb-2006 03:19 pm (UTC)
People offend to easily sometiems but I agree with the rant. What is Your oppinion on the recent rioting due to the cartoon in denmark(?)?
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