Sunday, May 24, 2009

Did you know that Christians can’t be Democrats?

Cross-posted at Barking Rabbits.

It’s true, according to those nice people who run Jerry Falwell’s Liberty College. From Washington Monthly:

Liberty University, the evangelical school in Virginia founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, is drawing heat Friday for its decision to revoke recognition of the College Democrats' chapter on campus.

According to the Lynchburg News & Advance, the school decided a week ago the organization "stood against the moral principles" held by the school and therefore could no longer be sanctioned.

Maria Childress, the staff adviser to the club, told the paper the school -- which opposes abortion rights and gay marriage -- had issues with the Democratic Party platform.

Childress says she was told by Mark Hine, the vice president of student affairs, that "'You can't be a Democrat and be a Christian and be a university representative.'"

So, after initially approving the College Democrats club, they changed their minds and revoke the club charter. But, of course, it’s not that those fine folks feel like any political activity and going to college don’t mix. No, it’s only Democratic political activity that is hostile to those values held dear by administrators of Liberty. No open mindedness here, please! No diversity of opinions necessary!

Liberty is a private institution and they can do as they please. But this does absolutely nothing except publicize the fact that it the closed minded, tribalistic institution that everyone knows it is but doesn’t really talk about. It’s just one more example of the entire “we encourage you to join us, just as long as you believe and act exactly like we do!” mentality that pervades the conservative psyche these days.

I just find it amazing that there were enough Democrats actually enrolled at Liberty to make up a club. To me, that’s a bit like being a gay Republican. You are going to have to dig deep to find some reasons for your decision that you can live with.

Photo from TBogg.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Here’s one big question I have for fervent believers: Why is your religion "the one true religion?"

And I am talking about true believers of any religion, not just Christianity. This goes for the believers of any established, organized religion.

Why do true believers always think that they are the holders of “the absolute truth?” Oh, of course, no one is ever going to come out and say they belong to a religion in which they don’t profess a belief. That is rather nonsensical. But here’s what I am talking about.

How many different societies have their been throughout the history of the human species? 10,000? 100,000? A million or more? I have no real idea. But I would guarantee that almost every single society has had some sort of belief system. There were all these unanswered questions out there, such as “where did we come from”, “who made the world” and “what happens when we die”, that are really in need of some answers. So, it seems to me that every society eventually had its own, sometimes very unique, religion to try to answer these questions.

We have the ancient Egyptians, who we so certain that their view was correct that they erected huge stone monuments that took decades to build. Do you think they were convinced they knew “the absolute truth?” How about the peoples of Easter Island, who built huge Moi statues that must have taken a huge toll on the population of the island. Why did they do that? Because they were convinced they knew “the absolute truth.” Native Americans had as many religions as there were major tribes. The Romans, the ancient Greeks, the Mayans, the Incas, the Toltecs, Pacific Islanders, the Inuit, the Druids, pre-Christian Europeans, Buddists, Taoists, not to mention all the various tribes on the African continent. Each of these societies had their belief system, many of which were so strong they built huge stone monuments that are still with us today. They were absolutely convinced they needed to do these things in order to appease their gods and to maintain the order of their respective worlds.

Viewed through the lens of today’s society, these beliefs look little more than fantasies based on superstition and were an attempt to give answers to many questions before they had the science to answer those questions. People in today’s society are so quick to brush off these ancient religions as “paganism” or “superstition.” Yet, to those ancient people, their religion was The Truth, and it dominated their lives in a way that, I think, no “modern” person can really comprehend.

Given that little setup, my question becomes, why do the true believers of today’s religions believer that they have “the answer?” To someone not versed in the basics of Christianity, to take an easy example, the stories contained in the Bible look just as fantastic and unbelievable as do the stories about the Norse gods who reside in Valhalla. Christianity had some very humble beginnings, and in no way resembles what Christianity has become now. In fact, we can’t really even define what “Christianity” is, in any detail, without including the myriad of major divisions (Catholic, Protestant, Born Again Fundamentalists) and splinter groups (both current and historical). How many Christians in the United States today would say they are a Gnostic? How many would actually even know what Gnosticism is? There’s also Monarchianism, Docetism, Donatism, Pelagianism, Nestorianism, Monophysitism, Waldenses, Lollards, Hussites and on and on. Each one of these groups was absolutely convinced that they knew “the truth” and everyone else was a heretic.

What evidence or argument is someone going to use to convince me that his or her religion represents “the truth?” Because I am going to turn this around on you and say, convince me that all these other religions are wrong. They were convinced they were correct, you are convinced you are correct.

The strength of your belief is not evidence of truth. It is evidence of your faith, but it is not evidence of truth. Those are two entirely different concepts altogether. In fact, “faith” means belief without supporting evidence. That is what Christianity of today requires of its believers; Faith. Because without faith, your belief system, including the resurrection of Jesus, the One God, except when He is Three Pieces (the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghosts, and especially the stories of the Old Testament, start to look really like a compilation of folklore, especially in light of all the scientific evidence that the world is not 6000 years old, the universe is so huge we cannot even begin to comprehend it, and that homo sapiens, regardless of how distasteful this concept might be to those who believe that humans are somehow special, evolved from lower life forms.

So, please tell me again why your one religion, out of the thousands and thousands that have ever existed in the minds of humans, is The One True Religion.