Tuesday, December 06, 2005

SOME THOUGHTS

I wrote the following as a comment at Joseph's weblog, "The Independent Liberal" (see link below). It has been edited slightly. If you disagree and want to flame me, my asbestos suit is on:

I thoroughly enjoyed Dan Brown's novel "The DaVinci Code", and I eagerly await the release of the movie. I hope it does well at the box office and spurs lots of people to examine and re-examine their Christian faith. When I used to attend a fairly liberal Methodist church regularly, for quite a number of years, I was always taught that one gains strength in one's faith by questioning it... so I appreciate what Dan Brown has done by writing his book. If it causes people to examine their beliefs, so be it. I think that is why many Christians, especially Christian leaders, may be critical of the book and what it suggests, mainly because they fear that if their followers think too much they might not be as easily controlled. But that's just my opinion. Sure, "The DaVinci Code" is fiction, but there is no denying it portrays a path of thought about Jesus and Christianity that those who are comfortable in that faith may fear to tread... it's the old question "What if...?"

I don't have trouble with people having faith in Jesus and believing in a god as portrayed in the Bible. Whatever turns them on, gives them comfort, helps explain the world to them, whatever energizes them! What I do have trouble with is the kind of blind faith that tends to put blinders on a number of people or makes them so obsessed with their religion that they become addled by it, especially when those people rise to the top. I believe our president is a prime example of the problems this can cause. If he is arriving at critical decisions because "God told him to", or even simply due to his gut feelings or instinct rather than through a thoughtful examination of evidence, then we are truly in a world of hurt.

If Bush truly believes God told him that war in Iraq was the way to go, I believe he is delusional. If he truly believes he is chosen by God to lead the war on terror, I will again state that belief: he is a delusional man.

At this time in the history of the world, I do not believe the most powerful nation on Earth should have a delusional leader. From whichever political party our next president comes, I hope Americans have the wherewithal to choose someone possessing a rational mind. And that CAN be someone who has faith... but I would like to see this particular someone, faithful or not, have the skills of listening to others, of examining issues from various points of view, and of respecting faiths that are different from his or her own. Making snap decisions? That might not allow the time for weighing various factors, but feeling good about our leader not being addled or delusional would make me feel lots better. Was the decision to go to war in Iraq a "snap decision"? I don't think it was... I believe the war had been in the planning stages for years.

I don't believe this is the kind of rational person we have running this country at this time. I am not saying Bush is addled or irrational because he is a Christian. I am saying he is addled or irrational because of the extent to which he places blind faith in his beliefs, without taking the time to examine things around him. I believe he has proven to be an incurious individual who has an entirely too narrow view of the world around him.

What about you? How much does it matter to you whether or not our president has faith in a Christian God? Should that even be an issue when it comes to electing somebody? Has it been made into an issue in our country as a way to control large blocks of fearful voters, or to lure fundamentalist Christian voters?

I will be involving myself in the necessary processes for ridding the White House of what I view as flawed thought processes or even a lack of rational thought, as demonstrated by Bush and his administration. If I was the praying type, I would pray that our country makes it safely, intact, through to the next presidential election. I have to wonder sometimes if it will... Is sending good vibes to the United States and to the White House the same as praying? Maybe it is. Anyway, that's what I will be doing. Praying that our president finds wisdom might prove to be a fruitless proposition, but we can always hope.

11 Comments:

Blogger Donald said...

Snave, you are a good example of someone who has lost their faith by thinking too much about it. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that is a BAD thing.

I haven't been around to comment for a while because it took me a while to become reincarnated. Once that got taken care of, Charley and I did a bit of exploring. I just got back from the Intergalactic Solitaire Championships, and I fared well. I will possibly be posting about that soon at my weblog.

Glad to see you are alive, well and cranky.

11:32 AM  
Blogger Sheryl said...

Snave, I can't add anything to what you said. Politically we think too much alike for me to say anything challenging to ya, but I sure do agree (for what it's worth.)

12:56 PM  
Blogger Lizzy said...

Like I've commented on many of your posts, I couldn't agree more.

5:32 PM  
Blogger J. Marquis said...

The Republicans have done a masterful job of controlling the religiously conservative segment of the country. Throw them a little red meat like gay marriage or abortion and they'll follow you anywhere.

I still haven't completely settled how I feel about Christianity or religion in general. Actually, I can't understand how a person EVER settles that issue.

5:45 PM  
Blogger Sheryl said...

"I still haven't completely settled how I feel about Christianity or religion in general. Actually, I can't understand how a person EVER settles that issue."

Bill Moyers was interviewing an atheist on NOW a year or so ago, and she said that she figured that religion just magnified what was already in people. Good and empathetic people use religion as an excuse to do good things, whereas callous or mean people use it as an excuse to do ugly things. I agree with that.

Once you see it that way, the question of religion is somewhat irrelevant. The real issue is what makes people want to be empathetic and see people as individuals versus what makes other people choose to be callous and generalize about people.

Morality will always be a meaningful issue to discuss, but religion is just a mechanism for drawing out things in people.

Now to be fair, people tend to be a mix of good and evil impulses, so religious leaders can exploit different emotions in people. In that sense organized religion should be explored as a power structure. Otherwise, who cares?

1:32 AM  
Blogger J. Marquis said...

Good point, Sheryl. Religion is definitely used as an excuse for doing good or evil.

The part I wrestle with is whether or not the Supernatural has any validity. I know on an intellectual level there is no reason to believe in Heaven or Hell or Armageddon or miracles or Allah or reincarnation or any of the rest of it but there is a part of me way down deep that just can't completely let go of it.

I guess I'm pretty fond of God but not so crazy about his sales reps.

5:04 PM  
Blogger 1138 said...

Very well said Snave.
Faith does not equate to blind stupidity, or I should say it doesn't have to.
My faith remains strong, but I am not foolish enough to simply trust the visions of others without examination.
Unfortunately there has been a carefully crafted execution of a plan to take advantage of basic human tendencies both fear and trust.

I don't expect a positive change until we get enough of a tip that we fear fear more than we fear the threat of fear and until we learn that trust should only be given when it isn't enforced with fear.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Damien said...

Damn staight I think that it is becoming painfully clear to many folk today that Dubya never really ever had any sense of clarity when it comes to approuching anything thoughtfully.

1:19 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

Right on, J... the commercialization of Christianity and use of God and Christ to instill fear in people is disgusting to me, plain and simple. What might be something good is spoiled, often to great extent in some cases, simply by human nature being what it is. Go ahead and call me a curmudgeon, but... o.k., yeah, I AM a curmudgeon!

1138, if more believers had your sensibilities, Bush would never have been "elected", and Christian fundamentalists would not overwhelmingly vote GOP regardless of what a sham it is. There has to be a way that so many voters can maintain their faith while finding their way through the fog.

Damien, when you speak of Dubya's lack of clarity, I can't think of a better phrase to describe what I view as his deeply-flawed decision-making processes.

Sheryl, Lizzy, we do tend to think alike on lots of issues. I wish all of us "regulars" who hang around at each others' blogs could get together and have beers sometime. If we could do that, we would change the world!

And Donald, I guess that includes you and Charley too! 8-)> Does Charley like beer?

2:29 PM  
Blogger Sheryl said...

J. Marquis,

"The part I wrestle with is whether or not the Supernatural has any validity."

The way I rationalize this problem away is that if there is a supernatural power, then it has allowed some horrific things to happen.

This either means it is an uninvolved god, or it is a cruel god. If it is an uninvolved god, then why should I care if it exists? If it's a cruel god, then why should I acknowledge it? Because it can punish me? I don't think so.

If this is a god that created me in conditions that make me value evidence over whim, then if this hypothetical god wanted me to know it existed, then it would provide the proof I need to satisfy those conditions I have been brought up to expect. Therefore, if there is an all powerful God, it obviously has no use in me knowing it exists, which is another reason not to care.

Paul,

"Faith does not equate to blind stupidity, or I should say it doesn't have to."

I think there are degrees to faith. Faith is that which does not have proof, but I think there are levels of circumstantial evidence.

I have used hope in arguements before. Anything that is futuristic is hypothetical and thus without proof. I also think that anything that is context based is prone to different outcomes for different contexts, so in that sense part of faith would just be a realization that we have not explored all contexts to various situations. In some sense, there are dangers in assuming to have knowledge about truth, but faith is about belief, not about truth. So I agree that faith is not equivalent to "blind stupidity." It's more about what you choose to have faith in. I have faith in a lot of aspects of science and communication. Or like a friend of mine pointed out recently, I am assuming that I and he exist when I hold conversations, but I don't really have proof that we aren't just complex dreams.

Snave,

Beer sounds good. If I had travel money, I'd head to Oregon and let you buy the first round. ;-) Actually I'd do a circuit tour of the US, so Paul would probably have to buy the first round since he's closer to San Antonio. :-)

4:16 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

I always kind of liked this quote:

"Faith: Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel."
- Ambrose Bierce

6:39 PM  

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