Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Ecumenical?

On January 28th Jazzy Cat wrote a short piece on the impropriety of religious pluralism. He makes the point that among all of the various religions, only one can be genuine. All others must needs be wrong. Well, now that's the ultimate problem. That's how we all wind up as pink mist, isn't it? (My thanks to tv's Grey's Anatomy for the pink mist thing.)

Every person of faith believes that he or she is on the one true path to eternal paradise. All others, presumably, are on the slippery slope to the nether world. All christians, actually not just all christians, but all methodists, all baptists, all presbyterians, all nazarenes, all lutherans, all catholics, etal, believe that they are the chosen of god. Never mind that the jews, muslims, hindus, sikhs and, well, everyone else of faith believe the same. Each is convinced that they are on the path of absolute truth. In the end, is there any possibility of these people finding common ground? Or will it all end in the eventual armagedden that the Raptiles predict?

If it can be said that athiests have any kind of mission, it may well be to do everything possible to forestall such an eventuality. It may not be enough to just batter ideas back and forth, or to spend time delving into the absurdities and contradicitions in the christian bible. I believe that agnostics, athiests, secular humanists, or whatever, must try to become more involved in the larger society. We must come out of our godless closets. We must involve ourselves in our respective communities. We must get involved in politics at all levels.

I understand that it will be an uphill battle to say the least. Anyone trying to get elected to public office as an admitted athiest or agnostic will likely encounter an openly hostile electorate. I suppose there are small enclaves in some communities which have embraced an avowed secular candidate, but they would surely be few and far between. I live in a solidly red state - a bastion of the bible belt. I don't believe that I am currently in a position to make any kind of political move, but that could change. I don't believe that politics is the only road to take. Organizations like the Council for Secular Humanism are good, great in fact, but often, I feel like they are essentially preaching to the choir.

What else can be done? I'm looking for suggestions. As much as I enjoy this, I doubt that blogging is going to get it done.

TLS

15 comments:

jazzycat said...

I am not sure I get your point about atheists, agnostics, etc. needing to get involved in larger society. Certainly all citizens of the USA have every right to be involved and push for whatever government polices they want. There is a growing sentiment that polices based on religious thinking should not allowed and Christians are somehow disqualified from holding office. I would submit that our freedom extends to everyone regardless of personal or religious beliefs.

Also, I would add atheists to that pluralism list where logic would hold that only one can possibly be right. It is logically possible that atheist could be correct. What humans believe does not make anything correct. It is logically possible that there is a supreme being that has not revealed himself and no one is right.

I think logic absolutely screams for a supreme being. An uncaused necessary being that cannot ‘not be’ is required for there to be anything. This being may be in another dimension, but it is necessary that he be self-existent. All the theories of self-creation and gradual self-creation are pure nonsense. From nothing, nothing comes unless a supreme being causes it.

Chance plus time has been cited as a explanation for creation. However, chance has no power of causation whatsoever. It is simply a statistical probability of things happening. There is a chance that you and I could end up at the same football game together. But, chance has no power to cause it to happen. Cause and effect leads back to a creation moment for matter and energy.

I will address the reason why Christians would never want a state religion soon on my blog, since this seems to be one of the many fears that liberals have.

At least we are not apatheic and that is a good thing.

Terry S said...

First, it is, I think generally true that most people who are either agnostic or atheistic do not openly advertise their beliefs. Today, gay people carry less of a social stigma than non-believers. I have been an athiest since sometime around 1970, yet I have only been speaking out the last couple of years. In that light I believe that we non-believers need to step out of the closet into the light.

I don't know how you can claim that "There is a growing sentiment that policies based on religious thinking should not be allowed and christians are somehow disqualified from holding office."

Over the last several years, every state in the union and several US congress sessions have introduced and often passed legislation which has an obvious religious and overwhelmingly christian bias. The Bush administration is rife with "faith based" initiatives.

As to christians being disqualified from office? Say what? I find that to be a truly ingenuine complaint. I doubt that there is more than a handfull of political office holders at any level of government anywhere in the US who profess to be either agnostic or athiestic. It is likely that well over 95% of all politicos in this country are avowed christians. A small percentage - perhaps 3% to 4% are of other faiths - jewish, muslim, etc.

It is estimated that something like 96% of all americans believe in a god. That includes most liberals, gays and lesbians. I don't see how christians can rightly claim that they are beleaguered. As I stated in a previous post, currently right wing conservative christians are pretty much running the show - certainly at the federal level as well as most governorships and state legislatures. About the only remaining bastians of "lefty leaners" are a number of (but by no means, all) large metropolitan areas which have democratic mayors and/or democratically controlled city councils (Even here in good old Indy, the capitol of perhaps the reddest state in history has a democratic mayor.) I don't know how the christian right could be in a more powerful political position than they currently enjoy without there being a complete breakdown of the democratic system.

Perhaps there has never been nothing. To believe that a god made something from nothing is not logical in that, if there was once nothing, there also was no god.

Owing to our own very temporary state of earthly existence, our having a definite beginning and end, it is difficult, if not impossible, for us to really understand the concept of infinity. Infinity is in all dimensions. Matter and energy are not two separate things, but, rather, different manifestations of the same thing. One cannot exist without the other. Matter begets energy, energy begets matter. The amount of matter and energy throughout the universe remains constant.

The popular notion of a supreme being as creator given the known nature of the universe, of matter and energy, is, at best mundane. God did not create man in his image, rather humanity created the notion of god in its image. The christian, jewish and muslim god is at turns wrathful, violent, petulent, and always egomaniacal. God is essentially characterized in the mold of a typical earthly king or potentate. Throughout much of human history there was often assumed that our various rulers were somehow in touch with the divine. That they were the chosen of god. That same notion remains in the person of the catholic pontiff.

The belief in a supreme being, who consciously created all that is, and is such a micro-manager that he has this intricate "plan" which includes all creatures great and small is, to my mind, ludicrous. While we have our glaring failings, humans can attain much higher levels of justice and fairness than the god who we are supposed to humble ourselves before.

There is no "justification" for the Holacaust, or the tsunami, or Katrina,or the thousands of other natural disasters and man-made atrocities that have taken place throughout the history of humanity. I still hear christians claiming that Katrina was the lord's wrath against the godless city of New Orleans. Fundamental islamists have claimed that the tsunami was allah's wrath against apparently insufficiently devout muslims. What drivel.

Even if you, personally, don't ascribe to the above, the fact remains that a large number of people do. And many of the people, currently in power, including our beloved president, are at least sympathic with such beliefs.

I have to get back to the life I lead. I will address your other rebuttal in the near future.

Later

TLS

jazzycat said...

Who can deny that the ongoing PC attempt to normalize homosexuality and bring it into total acceptability and demonize any dissent?
I would like to offer the following two quotes from The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force as proof of some of my points about ‘hate speech’ and ‘growing sentiment that polices based on religious thinking……….’ Here are the quotes from their website:
Rhetoric of religious right continues to fuel violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people
Task Force: Today's attack on men in New Bedford gay bar points to climate of hate created by right-wing obsession with homosexuality

I will admit the train has just left the station on this hate speech tactic, but it has left and it is moving. My Sunday JazzyCat link to my persecution Photo Meditation goes into a little more detail. (Great photo there of a 1965 civil rights march)
When is the last time we have heard that hate rhetoric against the religious right is bad. NOT!

Terry S said...

I visited the gay and lesbian site, and then I went to a couple of sites noted in their comments. I think it is obvious that hate speech is coming from all sides. I would say that if people are physically attacked as those in Massachusetts were, an angry response would not be surprising. I know of no instances wherein gays and lesbians are going into hetero bars and attacking people with knives, machettis or guns. I understand that the individual who committed that particular act apparently did not have both oars in the water. But one might wonder where the fuel for his hatred came from?

As I noted, I visited a couple of sites noted in the gay and lesbian site, namely James Dobson's Focus on the Family, and Tony Perkin's Family Research Council.

I did not go deeply into either site, but while I found nothing that I would characterize as "hate" speech, the position these sites take as regards homosexuality is clear. They take the position that homosexuality is a sickness, as something inherently evil.

Homosexuals do not.

I certainly do not deny that they have every right to voice their opinions against homosexuality. But, I come back to the question that you have never quite addressed in our discussions: Why is it any of their business? What possible affect can someone else's sexual proclivities have on them? Do they fear that simply allowing such people to openly (or not) exist in their midst will damage them? Will it diminish their chances of making the post mortal leap into paradise? Are they afraid that god will look down and see another Sodom & Gomorrah that must be destroyed?

I don't hunt. I don't believe in it. I think, that unless one needs to hunt to survive, there is no justification for it. It is, in my mind a poor "sport." I believe it to be immoral, and, frankly, a little silly. But, ultimately, it's not any of my business. I don't get up on a soap box and speak out against it. I know there are some who do, but I believe they are wrong to do so. Again, they have the right, but I don't agree with speaking out against it. Let 'em hunt. It doesn't affect me, or my ability to live my life as I choose. As far as I'm concerned, the deer will have to look out for themselves.

Just let gays and lesbians live their lives as they choose. They, in turn, should allow heteros to live at they choose. Life is hard enough without such bickering about anyone's sexuality.


Sorry if I seem to be rambling, I have come down with a cold. Between the cold itself and the medicine I'm taking for it, I feel like I'm somewhere else, not quite here.

Oh, if you go to the site I have highlighted - Look at Me. I'm so Important. . . and check out the "Snow Day" post, there are a number of great photos of NYC during the record snow storm on Sunday.

The "Darren" of this particular blog is my nephew who lives in NYC. He works for Oxford Press and his wife works for (the evil) CBS News. He went out into Central Park and took those pictures during the storm. They are, I think, quite good. That's some snow, huh?

TLS

noell said...

Terry, where have you been? You haven't posted in a while. I hope you're ok.

Terry S said...

Noell,

Good to hear from you. I have posted a couple of responses on your site over the last few days, but I came down with a cold earlier this week which slowed me down. Also, I run my own business and, happily, I have been fairly busy. I sat down to write a new post a couple of times, but just didn't have the energy to put anything together.

My neighbor who lost his wife recently invited my wife and I over for dinner a couple of nights ago along with his daughter and son in-law. He served us venison, potatos and some veggies. In turn, we are having him and my brother over this evening. My wife, Joan, makes a great seafood gumbo with shrimp, oysters, okra and so on.

Congrats on your HMM column. That should be interesting. I'll check it out.

I thought about commenting on your post regarding your mother, but I saw that you had so many responses, that I probably couldn't have added much to the mix.

Suffice it to say that for most of us, dealing with our parents can sometimes be a harrowing experience. Both of my parents are now gone, but I went through a number difficult times both rebelling against them and trying to get their approval, often at the same time.

I submitted one of my posts to The Carnival of the Godless (On Death.) I doubt that it will make the cut. I read a few of their postings, and they are really into very esoteric and abstract discussions. I think it's fine to do that. It should be done. But, I must admit that much of it is beyond me.

I have started a draft of a new post regarding some of the works of Wendy Kaminer. If you're not familiar with her work, I highly recommend it.

I also urge you to click on my nephew's blog site for which I have provided a link to view his pics of the big snow storm in NYC. (Look at me. I'm so important. . .)The specific post is entitled "Snow Day." Actually, you might enjoy reading some of his posts as well. He is, I think, a good writer. He carries a lot of angst from his childhood. It might lend itself to picking up some parenting tips.

Hope you are well, and, again, congrats.

TLS

jazzycat said...

Hey Terry, I kept checking for a later post and forgot to check these comments for a few days. First, for some good news…. I agree with your views on hunting almost to a T. You asked some questions that I will try to answer as best I can. I hope my meaning will be clear. You asked:

But, I come back to the question that you have never quite addressed in our discussions: Why is it any of their business? What possible affect can someone else's sexual proclivities have on them?

Homosexuals should have every right to personal safety, and the right to privacy. However marriage has for millennia been between a man and a woman and has been based on the act of mating and producing children. This of course produces a family structure and an extended family that I believe has been a strength in human cultures. Also, the normalization and promotion of homosexual relations will inevitably cause more experimentation and confusion for our children even if one believes it is genetic. This will not be a good thing for society. The human body whether by evolution or intelligent design was not designed for the type of sexual relations that are engaged in by homosexuals. This should cause a big red flag when one considers calling it no different than heterosexual relations and making equal to traditional marriage. Think of children again. I could go on with more points, but let me ask a couple of questions. Should marriage be a sexual union or could two people marry of the same or different sex without it? Should polygamy be allowed in marriage? Should a brother and sister be allowed to marry? Could the allowing of homosexual marriage have a serious adverse effect on society? Is that possible?
If anyone has a serious reason to believe that it could have an adverse effect on society, then it most certainly is some of their business. We have all kinds of laws that are primarily for the good of society?

Terry S said...

In an attempt to answer your questions about the definition and boundaries of marriage I would say that we are living at a time in human history when change is constant and comes at us at seemingly light speed. Given technological developements in genetics, nano-technology, communications, the internet, etc. it is likely that what it means to be human may well change dramatically over the next several decades.

The norms of society are likely to be challenged and redefined pretty much on the fly. All of the questions you raise are difficult to answer given the likelyhood of such changes. The manner in which we procreate may well change. Test tube babies or something similar could become the norm. Marriage itself may become a relic of the past. I don't believe that I am talking about some distant sci-fi kind of society. Give the book, Radical Evolution a look. Things may not change all that dramatically during our earthly tenure, but it is likely that our children, and certainly our grand-children will witness a great deal of societal change.

I do not share your concern with the possible detrimental effects of homosexual marriage on society. You are presupposing that the numbers of such unions would be large enough to radically change our social structure. Keep in mind that homosexuals and lesbians make up a very small percentage of our overall population. Your concern is more alarmist than the numbers would suggest is reasonable. Nor is it a foregone conclusion that any effects same sex marriages have will be detrimental. As with anyone, it will depend on how these people live, how responsibly they carry out their day to day lives.

Your questions concerning polygamy and incestual marriages are not so predictably answered as you might expect. Polygamy is in fact the norm in some societies as we well know. While polygamy was outlawed by the mormon church many years ago, there remain a number of its adherents who still practice it. I'm not saying its good or bad, but it does exist.

As to brother/sister or other familial unions, our society finds them to be abhorent, but again, they are not without precedent. Of course we understand that there are inherent dangers in such unions owing to significant dangers of inbreeding. In my mind, the objection to such marriages is not so much a moral as it is a health issue.

Nor am I particularly concerned with "confusing" our children. Every new generation typically outdistances their elders in grasping what is going on in the world. They are generally much more aware and "with-it" than their parents imagine.

I do admit that I wonder why gays and lesbians would want to be members of any group - ie: a church - where they are not wanted, where they are scorned, and, yes, hated. Marriage in the religious sense is at its essence the sanctioning of the union by the respective institution. A sanction which many churches are not predisposed to provide.It seems that it would make more sense for gays and lesbians to establish their own church organizations (which I suppose some have done.)

But, when it comes to legal recognition of same sex unions, I don't believe that the state should enter into the fray. A same sex couple should be afforded the same rights, protections and, of course, responsibilities as heterosexual couples. Being denied the opportunity of a legal union prevents them from equal participation in society.

TLS

noell said...

Terry, I have been too busy to read my usual blogs this week, so I am just catching up, starting with your response to me here in this post.

Since my HNN article last week my posts are accumulatint a number of comments, but if you have something to say, I hope you say it. I do read every single comment, and I see that a number of my other readers do too!

I'll have to look for the posting you submitted to Carnival of the Godless. I have considered doing it myself. But like you, the standard submission does not hold my interest. I think most of them are boring!

I haven't heard of Wendy Kaminer. I'll look for your post on that. I haven't read your latest post or two. Maybe you wrote it already. I came straight to this comment area first. I'll also check out your nephew's stuff.

Good to talk to you again.

Terry S said...

Noell,

I haven't gotten around to finishing my post regarding Ms. Kaminer. It is still in the draft stage. Not that it will be anything earth shattering, but I do want to put something comprehensive together. I have read two of her books and a few articles she has written for Free Inquiry, the periodical publication of the Council for Secular Humanism. That's also where I first read some of Sam Harris' work.

You are obviously a very busy lady. I imagine it gets kind of crazy trying to keep up with all of your respondents, publishing your own posts, oh, and otherwise living your life. Remember to eat your Wheaties.

TLS

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