Sunday, March 26, 2006

Lashing Out in the Name of God

Last night, I was as discouraged about the role of religion in society as I’ve been in quite a while. I was watching this cable access show called Truth Seekers, that’s normally quite entertaining, as it defends the Biblical timeline that claims the universe is 6,000 years old. Their idea is to look at the evidence, and then come up with ways that it fits into their religious beliefs, and that’s the good part of the show.
However last night, they drifted into religious bashing of Catholics, saying that Satan works in the Catholic Church. The major problem they have is the role they perceive Catholics give Mary. One of the callers was obviously an older woman and she was clearly hurt that something she believed in was so openly attacked. It was that hurt in her voice that got me.
People around the world believe in the concept of God. It takes different forms in different places, just as different languages, cuisines, and music develop. The annoying thing about religion is the way very similar sects turn on each other. That’s what makes Iraq such a mess right now: Sunnis and Shiites are both Islamic so why the fighting? The same thing happened in Northern Ireland over the years. And of course, everybody in every sect believes they are right.
The theme last night was that the Bible is the word of God, but guess what? Nobody follows the Bible completely, even though there are clauses saying it’s the only way and everything in it has to be followed. Do you want an example? How about Deuteronomy 13:7-11:

“If your brother, the son of your father or of your mother, or your son or daughter, or the spouse whom you embrace, or your most intimate friend, tries to secretly seduce you, saying, “Let us go and serve other gods,” unknown to you or your ancestors before you, gods of the peoples surrounding you, whether near you or far away, anywhere throughout the world, you must not consent, you must not listen to him; you must show him no pity, you must not spare him or conceal his guilt. No, you must kill him, your hand must strike the first blow in putting him to death and the hands of the rest of the people following. You must stone him to death, since he has tried to divert you from Yahweh your God”

Do these guys follow that doctrine? So for these guys to lay into this woman’s faith seemed sort of shabby. It seemed like that old human flaw: We’re just a little bit superior to you. This often leads to another human flaw: We’re going to come over to where you live and kill you. Does anyone even know the difference in Sunni Islam and Shiite Islam?
Stick to the timeline stuff and observations about the world, fellows. It is an entertaining show when you do that. The way the moon covers the sun in a total eclipse. The way light traveled across the universe in less than 6,000 years. These explanations are a joy to behold. Berating old women whose faith is a little different than yours, is tacky, especially since you don’t follow the Bible yourselves.
In fact, here’s another story for you to study. It’s another find of a prehistoric man’s skull. Apparently, God planted it here to test your faith in the 6,000-year timeline. No, that doesn’t make any sense. I know. It was planted here by Satan. I’m sure you’ll have a great explanation, and just like last night, or when the Sunnis return from fighting the Shiites, the end result will be the superior glow of the truly self-righteous.

ABC News: Scientists Find Skull of Human Ancestor


At 11:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just as with any map of the world our quest to pin down a reasoned (and complete) description of the mystery of life is doomed to failure as each new generation is compelled to redefine it all over again for themselves.

But words, and the meaning of words, lose their precision when the dimension of time (as mere context) is thrown into the mix.

Imagine if our only history was oral history. Or rather, were it not for the quest to define and preserve one's mere vision of the meaning of life we might not be so vigorous in demanding reason in ourselves and others.

Enjoy the journey.


At 12:28 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

Enjoy the mystery, too.


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