Apr 8, 2009

Insular Beliefs Wrapped in Religion Must be Re-examined. And, a Few Thoughts on the Message of Easter.

These days many Christian churches and other religious groups stage Passion of Christ events as well as participate in ceremonies to mark this important occasion. Tradition and culture in general often imbue people with sets of norms, but have you thought why most people don’t even think about what they’re doing? Change the circumstances or the framing and you might raise an eyebrow about certain practices. For instance, we wouldn’t probably find very appealing to showcase torture!

It’s the message that Christ’s crucifixion carries, not the barbaric, excruciating death inflicted upon the condemned, I’m told. So, what is the message really? And, I’m not joking. I’ve asked several friends of mine who are religious to explain it to me; they’re either stumped or begin to think about the message for the first time. God allowed his son to be severely tortured and killed in long agony, because God wanted to show his ..love for his creation, the humans! Or, that Jesus died for our sins! What kind of a moral lesson can I derive from these two examples of God’s behavior? It doesn’t even make sense why someone should (or could possibly) die to pay for the responsibility of others?

It’s about time we have to stop insulating ourselves in the confines of superstitious norms of ancient people who were so primitive as to accept torture as an everyday occurrence; that the universe was divinely ordained—which included fixed places in society—whereas most humans were unworthy and the elites were special due to their bloodlines or direct connection to the heavens.... No wonder why it took us thousands of years to transform some of our societies from the taboos and cruelty of the past.. while the conservatives of every society kicked and screamed!


I wrote this post as the conservatives and those steeped in religious fervor are criticizing president Obama for saying that the United States is not a Christian, or a Muslim, or a Jewish, country but a country based on certain values. What's wrong with this statement? Nothing! The historically-ignorant want to believe that this country was founded upon the Judeo-christian values, but this is simply not the case.

Most of the founders were deists--believed in a higher entity but not a intervening xtian god--and made sure that the US Constitution has no religious test for public office. [Article 6, sec. 3] There's a separation of church-state, and the Biblical moral code is not the legal code of our country! From the 10 Commandments, we have "don't steal" and "don't kill", "no perjury," but these are common sense clauses anyway, and I'm sure these principles predated Moses. The rest of the Commandments [they differ among Catholics, Protestants, and Jews] are left in the "holy" book.

A few words about holy books. If anyone has any knowledge of human history, and the world as it is today, he has to question the design or the creator; horrible events [some natural but deadly diseases & catastrophes] are everyday occurrence. Some design you may ponder. Or, when you examine the crimes in the name of God and because of religion, you may understand better what Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are saying about religion.

If you are to look for genocide & ethnic cleansing, for murder of non-believers, for slavery, for women's subjugation, for torture, for killing
en mass, for nasty-brutish-short lives, for prostitution, and for killing children as punishment for the sins of their parents, you need not look further than the holy book placed in the center of every church, mosque and temple. These moral principles are god-given. Plus, a few other demands such as no clothing of "unnatural fibers" and no boiling a calf in its mother's milk!

It's no accident that the most fervent believers are also the most ignorant about science; they're the most phobic of anything out of a strict norm. They fight science on the basis of uneducated, prejudicial beliefs, and the leaders of that flock encourage it! This is a disservice to humanity. Organized religion prefers it that way. After all, sheep are easier to control. No real effort is undertaken to inform or promote rational thinking. Why? The more a person accepts the literal truth of the holy book the better it is. We are told that faith [read: be satisfied with the absence of evidence and reason] is a virtue!!!!

On the other hand, I think we are making some progress, in that, many religious people see their faith and its moral principles as a supermarket of convenience--pick & choose according to personal preference! That is good, because I don't think the death practices--or any other torture, cruel & unusual punishment--religion has instructed humankind to practice is appropriate in a modern society. The world is a better place today precicely because we've distanced ourselves from the confines of dogma and prejudice.


Update: Along the same ideas, I wrote an editorial, A Miracle That People Want, referring to the annual miracle of the Holy Light! There's another thread of discussions there.

17 comments:

a fan said...

Wow! One of the most poignant posts I've seen in the blogosphere.. to the point that it becomes an irritant to those who never examined their beliefs...

I'm sorry for the flack you'll get because of this. Someone has to say these things though....

Andros said...

Oh, I get emails... The most hateful and vile come from those whose value system professes to be the most morally superior...

ah well... enjoy!

drew said...

love it!

sa... a said...

luv it too! (I'm a recovering xtian)

erin said...

"marketplace of convenience" that's a good one!

Seriously, your point of having beliefs without examining them is well taken.

Include some mystery, ceremonies, reference to the supernatural, and all is packaged in one-easy-to-swallow pill.

great post...

Andros said...

I don't have a problem with religious people, other than to feel sad they're not using their thinking ability for something so important.... the meaning of life, human nature, the world, the universe!

But, I'm tired with those who make pompous claims and try to assert some kind of moral superiority.

The "holy book" is no holy. BUT WHO READS THE DAMN THING???!!! Certainly not those who profess they get their morality from that!

Of course, it's a supermarket of convenience. Pick and choose and ignore!

I'm sure that if the title was missing, and the language was modern, most people would object to what's in there!

Further, who would in their right mind see this as the work of a supreme being???!!!!!

steve said...

The problem that religion hasn't solved or explained is that which passages in the holy book to take literally and which ones not.

OK, Jesus spokes in allegory, and he made that clear, but the Bible, the Koran, the Torah, are all sold to the faithful as the definitive word of God!

How do we know what is what? Or, what to believe literally and what we shouldn't?

Andros said...

Another question is: are all the moral instructions in the holy books of equal weight? Is any sin just as bad as another? You'd think so, but it's not clear in those books.

If we judge by the punishment, then working on the Sabbath or adultery or murder, all carry the death penalty!

The problem you describe is an important one, that is, they tell us believe in the literal resurrection of Jesus but not on the burning bush, or whatever. How does one know? Although, religion is not about KNOWING... it's about indoctrination, accepting on faith...


We don't even have any proof for most events described in the Bible other than someone wrote them in the Bible... They wrote a marketing book and in the absence of any corroborating evidence, we have to take it on faith...

tsk

Anonymous said...

I see that this blog has turned from discussing politics to religion. Are you claiming to be an expert theologian too?

galileo said...

wait a sec, we base many of our politics on what religious people want! it's the greatest scam, to sell a product making extraordinary claims without providing any evidence... it'd land others in jail for fraud....

and, the organized religion doesn't have to pay taxes...

geesh..

Andros said...

I'm not claiming to be an expert theologian... and, I hope you don't mean to imply that unless someone is an expert tailor, highly trained in the art of stitching of the most etherial fabrics, then cannot call the king naked!

Tell me where I made a mistake, and I'll correct it. Did I make any claims or asked unreasonable questions about the Bible, religion, etc?

My greater point in this post was to question the conventional wisdom, whereas people keep doing something because it's tradition without even realizing what they're doing....

Human history is full of such practices, that no one even remembers why they're so, but they endured of thousands of years...

Andros said...

Just an example:

Christmas traditions.... Seriously, how many people today really know the true story of xmas?...

Anonymous said...

God is not responsible for what stupid humans do. Yes, I know he created humans but have you heard of free will?

Anonymous said...

Of course the Bible has many simplicities and allegories because it had to reach common, mostly uneducated people.

Obama was wrong to say that this country is not a Christian country. 90% are so.

anderson said...

This country isn't Christian by design of the founders and the framers of the constitution.

The US has a majority of xtians, but did you notice those who don't believe in god doubled in size, from 8% a few years ago, to 16% today! And, I'm sure many more just have a nominal religious affiliation.

epicurus said...

David Hume: If god is willing and able, why does evil exist? If god is able but not willing, then he's malevolent. If he's willing but unable, then he's no god.

Of course, there's free will, in the sense that humans act, but then why bother praying? Does god intervene or not? If he does, then just look around...

Interestingly, god gets all the credit for good outcomes, but none of the blame. ha!

bret said...

I had a problem with the question, why God talks only to a few special people.... Then, I thought, why does he tell them different things depending on location? All of them are convinced they have the real message, and the final at that.

So, how do we know who's right?