Uncommon Sense

August 27, 2017

Correct Religious Belief … or Not?

Filed under: History,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 10:31 am
Tags: , , , , ,

All three Abrahamic religions seem to be worshiping the same god, just in different ways, so why is there strife between them? Why doesn’t one see any “Isn’t that cute?” attitudes or attitudes of “Isn’t that interesting, they do it differently.” Such attitudes abound in cooking, fashion design, home design, and myriad other endeavors such that “cultural appropriation” has become a topic being discussed because people borrow so much.

Why do religions condemn other practices as incorrect beliefs? On the surface they seem to be warning others that (a) those beliefs are wrong and will get you in trouble and (b) our beliefs are right and will lead you to salvation. But even fundamentalist Christian sects who believe that all you need to be saved is to “accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior” and voila! you are saved have this same behavior. Those sects have differences with other sects making the same claims.

These differences have led to and continue to lead to wars and war-like attitudes and activities. Wars broke out between Catholics and Protestants (kind of the Empire and the Rebel Alliance of Christianity) in the sixteenth century and the Sunni-Shia battles continue to this day and have lasted for over a thousand years. (The Catholic-Protestant wars lasted only a paltry century and a half for comparison.)

These facts seem to suggest that the differences between disputed are really important, but are they? If such differences were something other than the squabbles of small-minded people, that is they were really important, would not modern churches have education programs explaining the differences and why they are important to their own parishioners as well as to prospective new ones? I do not see a whole lot of “why we are different” or “why we are better” campaigns being voiced by churches. At the other end of the spectrum, I don’t see a lot of local programs addressing how “we are all one” or “we are all in this together” either. It is as if, all of these religious sects were in … wait a minute …

… it seems as they are all in competition with one another.

Competition for membership, competition for wealth, competition for political power. As in advertising, you never mention the name of your competitors (although that rule is breaking down a bit now) because you don’t want to bring other options up in the minds of potential customers. These sects don’t make comparisons, at least not often, with other sects because one would have to explain who they were, what they believed, how many of them there were, etc. Usually the are just dismissed out of hand (They are not True Christians™!). The goal is definitely not to convince others of what the right beliefs are so that we all will be saved, their goals are much more parochial.

I suggest that if these myriad religious sects were to actually try to convince people openly of the rightness of their beliefs, the differences being focussed upon would rather quickly become equivalent to the discussion regarding how many angels might dance on the head of a pin. They would appear silly and small-minded. It would bring ridicule into play and rather quickly.

The religious sphere seems to be drifting inexorably into postmodernism in which all beliefs need to be respected because they are all “sincere” and equally valid thereby. Each sect has it’s market share and the promise, false or true, of more membership in the near future.

If actual competition for “who has the correct beliefs” were to occur, who knows how that would go? Better to stick with the safe present rather and a possibly dim future, they think. (This thinking is the same as the thinking of the churches debating whether there should be separation of church and state during the debate over the U.S. Constitution. The evangelicals, including the ones calling for a Christian Nation designation now, were all for the separation because they could see themselves being losers in the battle for state recognition as the “official religion” of this or that state or the U.S. as a whole.)

Currently, the religions in this country enjoy tax relief (even the fucking Scientologists!), they are mostly respected (why I am not sure, other than it is traditional), and the know the rules of the game they are in. It would be a hard sell to get them to shove “all in” to try to win the biggest hand they would ever play.

Anybody can open a church with little forethought, and if they can garner enough support from those who live nearby, can make a go of it. Some of these entrepreneurial churches then seek affiliation with larger bodies for the same reason unions and other collective efforts affiliate with “parent organizations.” But a quick trip to perdition awaits those who do not play by the rules. They will be hassled to death by other sects and by the governments we have created. There is a definite “don’t rock the boat” message implying a “we have a good thing here, don’t mess it up” attitude. Even so, there seems to be a lot of room in the Abrahamic god’s tent, because otherwise, how does one explain “prosperity gospel” churches. (“Sure, Jesus said rich people don’t have a hope in Hell of making it into Heaven, but join us and we’ll explain what He really meant!”)

But it is key to note that to open a new church, you have to be offering something different from the competition, so this current system encourages increasing diversity in the religious message, so rather than bringing us all to the same correct belief, it is expanding the possible number of beliefs, each of which is almost guaranteed to be at least partly wrong.

Can you imagine the chaos that would ensue if a church or denomination were to announce a conclave to determine which beliefs are indeed correct and lead to salvation? Who would get a seat at that table? How many representative voices would each entity get? (Giving one seat to the Catholic Church and one seat to the Church of What’s Happening Now would seem to be not balanced.) How would decisions be made? (Voting doesn’t seem very religious. Maybe on each item each stakeholder could light a candle and the one that burned longest would indicate God’s will? This is a tough one.) And, the really big one: if this conclave actual determined what the correct beliefs were, how many regular people would be convinced? I suspect there would be a wholesale retreat to the hills by guerrilla churches to continue the war. (Imagine them ending up going: “Dang, Islam was right all along.”)

Even if the correct beliefs have already been listed somewhere, what is the chance they would be recognized as correct? Since every danged sect has its adherents, it seems that there is no set of beliefs that will get some people to sign on to. There seems to be no way out of this trap, except for a lucky few, who I am sure when they got to Heaven would say, “Hey, where is everybody?” Maybe this is just another reason not to believe at all: there is no way to determine if what you believe is effective. In most cases, we don’t even know why it is we believe what we believe, so going the next step in correcting our beliefs, that is to make them more correct until one has perfected them, seems a hopeless task. (Hint: it is.)

11 Comments »

  1. Can you imagine the chaos that would ensue if a church or denomination were to announce a conclave to determine which beliefs are indeed correct and lead to salvation?

    Isn’t this similar to what happened a few thousand years ago at the first Council of NIcea? Bible defenders like to present it as a lovey-dovey affair, but according to historians, there were supporters and dissenters and most likely it was a rather rowdy event before all was said and done.

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    Comment by Nan — August 27, 2017 @ 12:06 pm | Reply

    • No, the Council of Nicea only allowed Christians and did not welcome those Christians who had already been excommunicated/banned by the Emperor or previous conclaves. But the Emperor himself attended and offered his own two cents from time to time. Of course, room and board and entertainment was picked up by the emperor (at one of his holiday palaces) and the attendees fell all over themselves sucking up to him.

      On Sun, Aug 27, 2017 at 12:06 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 27, 2017 @ 8:13 pm | Reply

    • I guess I was thinking of the canonization of the New Testament (which came later) because my book research indicated this meeting consisted of several early church fathers who reviewed all existing manuscripts (there were several), along with the Apocryphal writings, to determine what should be “authorized” as sacred text and what should be ignored (most intertestamental writings). As would be expected among human agents, there was a myriad of opinions with each person promoting his specific belief, agenda, and point of view. They finally had to come up with a set of criteria to use and a “canonized” version was created.

      BUT … this was not the end of the story. Over the intervening years, additional councils formed and further discussions and debates were held. Some writings approved by the third century group were found to be heretical by later reviewers and were removed from the canon. Others were added. In fact, even today Bible scholars question whether particular books in the current Bible are sacred text. In addition, the Bible used by the Roman Catholic Church (and some eastern Christian churches) includes books that are rejected by Protestants.

      What’s interesting about all this is Christians “swear” their bible is the inspired word of their god. Really?

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      Comment by Nan — August 28, 2017 @ 12:09 pm | Reply

      • Hey, they are still doing it! It is fascinating that different Christianities accept different books as scripture. Some of which are clear forgeries. One of which claims to be written by Paul and it contradicts everything Paul wrote in his authentic letters! All of these decisions were political ones. the reason four gospels were included was because each had its own constituency which could abide it being left out and, shall we say, votes were traded. One enterprising “bishop” took it upon himself to write a composite gospel, incorporating all four into one pastiche. That dog didn’t hunt as a political tool to resolve differences.

        The Christians also rewrote the OT, well they reorder the books in the OT so that they ended in such a way as to appear to be pointing to the coming of Jesus. Leave no stone unturned was the motto of these scripture creators.

        On Mon, Aug 28, 2017 at 12:09 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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        Comment by Steve Ruis — August 28, 2017 @ 1:07 pm | Reply

  2. No kidding. I wondered for many years why xtianity had so many different ‘flavors’. Supposedly, all one needs to be ‘saved’ is to believe that Jesus IS doG.
    This reminds me again of a parody of a TV dog food commercial my buddies and I sang back in my high school days; “My god’s better than your god. My go’s better than yours. My god’s better ’cause he eats Kenl-Ration. My god’s better than yours.” Yes, it WAS very sarcastic, but we meant it to be so. Chalk it up to my personal falling from church at age 13-14 for asking “bad” questions, like just WHO planted that tree, the fruit of which the two “original” humans were not supposed to eat?
    Oh, one last thought about patriotism. A quote from Edward Abbey; “A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.”

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    Comment by davidambrose66 — August 27, 2017 @ 1:11 pm | Reply

    • Yeah, it is rather amazing. A god who can create a universe including a planet stocked with wild animals and all manner of plant life and he needs to make a human being because he needs a gardener (someone to tend the garden)? He admits to having cherubim and all kinds of other creatures but he needs a human to care for His garden. Then He goes and lies to them. He tells Adam and Eve if they eat from the tree, surely they will die. So they eat and, voila, they do not die. This is the beginning of humans believing their government is lying to them.

      On Sun, Aug 27, 2017 at 1:11 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 27, 2017 @ 8:17 pm | Reply

  3. Sucks for the others when the originators (the Jews) start admitting it’s all bullshit.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by john zande — August 27, 2017 @ 2:13 pm | Reply

  4. You have just singled out the biggest source of misery, murder, blood, guts, and devastation the world has ever known.

    My god is better than yours.

    Like

    Comment by shelldigger — August 28, 2017 @ 5:51 am | Reply

    • Plus “my god” is an illusion created by the need to be differentiated from “those others.” It is very sad.

      On Mon, Aug 28, 2017 at 5:51 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 28, 2017 @ 7:17 am | Reply

  5. While I don’t always get into it with true believers, unless I have had one or two too many stiff Rhum beverages, I had to point out to one who was being particularly obnoxious a website “graveyard of the gods” that listed all the “dead” gods. She quickly pointed out that HER god was not only alive, but in charge of everything and I had better come around for my soul was in peril! Such mentality!

    Like

    Comment by Holding the Line in Florida — August 28, 2017 @ 3:01 pm | Reply

    • Well, at least they are consistent … consistently bad.

      On Mon, Aug 28, 2017 at 3:01 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 28, 2017 @ 8:40 pm | Reply


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