Monday, February 07, 2005

Okay, maybe a little mysterious

I thought I would backpedal just a bit- I would hold it valid to say, "Yes, it looks like God is doing evil stuff, but I have it on good authority and/or personal experience that He is good. There must be some rational explanation for this, I will keep an eye out for one." Maybe this won't make much practical difference, but it will stop us from saying "God is mysterious' as if it was an explanation...

Quoth Marco: I also connect a belief in the God of Christians and Muslims with the belief in creation that goes with their texts.

I think the story of creation as recorded in the sacred texts of the West is spot on as far as the important bits are concerned.

*Who created the universe? God.
*Why? Because it was good.
*Why are things so ungood now? Because of the free choice of rational moral agents.

It even puts the events of creation in a roughly plausible evolutionary sequence. Only the minutiae which no second millenium BCE prophet could have made sense of anyway, if they had been miraculosly revealed to him/her, are wrong.

Quoth Marco: Here, the implications of evolutionary science are interfering with well established faiths. Possibly, faiths should adapt to the new information. Equally possibly, I'm suggesting faiths may find just as much success fighting evolution.

Any belief that is not consistent with our sense impressions of the universe is, in the long run, doomed. That is not a logical argument from me, just an ex cathedra pronouncement!

Quoth Marco:
I also thought that the main religions had a tradition of believing moral laws to not apply for non-humans. Here again, modern scientific thought has given the established faiths a dillemma of whether to adapt or to ignore animal rights as an issue.

I think this is the one serious deficiency of the religions of the West vis-a-vis the religions of the East. Hinduism and Buddhism have a strong and very old tradition that moral laws apply to humans and non-humans alike.

Quoth Marco: I don't think that any faiths in a pluralistic society influence morally any "non-members".

Hmm, hmm. I think they do. I think if you see a newspaper editorial by Reverend Raving-Looney, you will not pay any attention to it, but if you see a newspaper editorial by a religious figure that you respect, you will.

Quoth Marco:
A much greater percentage of US citizens believe in special creation than in Europe. How do you explain the obvious moral superiority of the US?

I don't think 40 million dead babies is good evidence of moral superiority. At the moment, admittedly, the United States is near the best of a bad lot but, er, I think we are ahead on free trade, admitting refugees (per capita), and having a workable health system. Though we are rotten to the core, so if we are the pinnacle of global morality it is time for fire from Heaven. Frankly, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. But, setting aside my Reverend Raving-Looney hat, both the 'moral superiority' and the 'belief in special creation' obviously come from the same source, the strong influence of Christianity in the United States. I think a United States whose religion was less obviously irrational would be much less of a figure of fun to the rest of the West, better able to project moral authority, and better able to recruit coalition partners who are not completely clueless when it comes to the whole 'hearts and minds' thing.


Marco said...

Well, that does it - time to bin "ex nihilo" and start to ridicule poor Sandor rather than listen to his creationist justifications! Really, the main implication that evangelicals find hideous is the "coming from monkeys" bit, and the only scientifically useful thing creation scientists have done is help uncover several frauds in relation to human evolutionary paelentology, and the occasional geologically alternative conclusion about certain forms. You are right though, not many scientists would take them seriously enough to even check some of their more realistic claims. I do think there is some value in a "skeptic" checking on claims of valid archaeological discoveries.

I assume your 40 million figure is since Rowe vs Wade. Though I think Australia's rate is a little higher. I can only assume that in USA they believe the babies are going to heaven because they are definitely "innocent" (a much better place than their situation would have been on Earth) and that the perpetrators still have a chance for forgiveness if they give their lives over to Christ. This is my only plausible explanation for the facts in a country where the pro-life activism is so high, yet at an individual level, people are choosing an alternate path. I think Australia has finally broken a taboo by allowing debate in federal parliament. Maybe next election it could be an issue that some party somewhere can latch onto.

Marco said...

That kind of wraps up the religion thread, and I didn't even get into the *Really* interesting things that I believe (that I can't prove yet, however)which don't really have that much to do with religion except perhaps as a way to understand the process of why and how we become religious.