Class Warfare Blog

June 27, 2020

Commandments or Not?

Filed under: Culture,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 10:56 am
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The included photo I find very touching and couldn’t possibly disagree and, in fact, probably could not find anyone who does disagree with this statement. But . . .

This is, of course, one of the Ten Commandments, actually one of the 605 commandments to be found in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. But I suspect that the person who made that sign was a Christian (odds are in my favor there) and I have to ask: Where in Christianity is this “commandment” endorsed?

Many fundamentalist Christians claim that the New Testament supersedes the OT. So, where in the NT is this commandment?

In the Hebrew Bible, this is a commandment of Yahweh to the Hebrews/Jews. It applies only to Hebrews/Jews, not to any of the other peoples of that time. It wasn’t given to the Romans, the Persians, the Phoenicians, etc. It was for the Hebrews/Jews and applied only to the Hebrews/Jews. And, the implied language is “Thou shalt not murder another Hebrew.”

Some Christians point to the passage in the gospel we call Matthew (5:18) “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” or (5:17) “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.“ Okay, so if the OT is still pertinent, why are not Christians obeying the entire 605 commandments therein? And if not all of those, where in the NT does it point out which are still viable and which are not?

June 26, 2019

Evolution of the Gods—Why Monotheism?

The Hebrews invented monotheism by all accounts. Prior to the invention of monotheism, everyone was in some form a polytheist. (I know this is not strictly accurate but I am not chopping details at the moment.) Now, it wasn’t exactly the case that polytheism did not work. It worked very, very well for what religions do. All of the positive benefits of, say, Christianity, can just as easily be attributed to polytheism, but polytheism actually offers more. The “more” in this case is religious tolerance. If one traveled in the ancient world, one ran into batshit crazy beliefs of all stripes. People believed the world was created by a god vomiting, or a god masturbating, etc. But people were used to different beliefs because they themselves “believed” in multiple gods. (The word belief is maybe a bit loaded for this situation. Gods were part of the fabric of society. Not believing in them was similar to not believing in goats or streets or armies. Not believing was not much of an option. )

The Romans made a great deal of hay out of this as they were a typical smash and grab civilization (their continued existence was based upon looting), different from others only with regard to the sheer size of the effort, and the first thing they would do when they conquered a people was to define a correspondence between the gods of the conquered people and the Roman gods. The Romans felt, rightly I think, that if people were forced to worship strange gods they would resist Roman rule more than if they were allowed to keep their own, comfortable, well broken in gods. So, the Greeks had a messenger god (Hermes) that was equated to the Roman messenger god, Mercury. Any conquered people who had a messenger god would be told that the Romans also worshiped “their god” but they just called him Mercury. Since they worshiped the same gods, they were less alien to one another and the assimilation could begin. The Romans invested a great deal of effort in doing this, keeping extensive records on these correspondences (in the Office of Cults, or some such bureaucratic group).

So, polytheism was perking along quite nicely, and the Hebrews were not different in this. The conversion of their religion from polytheism to monotheism shows up quite clearly, even if all you have to study is the Hebrew Bible (aka Old Testament). So, I know this is quite a long set up, but my question is simple: why monotheism?

It is now clear that this transition to “pure” monotheism began in the late seventh century BCE (thousands of years after the supposed times on the earlier OT). The effort lead to the first written Hebrew Bibles a couple of hundred years later, written by the same kinds of people. So who were these people? My guess is that I don’t think you will be surprised to find out that it wasn’t the common people. They couldn’t read or write and weren’t interesting in much more than the survival of themselves and their families. The only people capable of such a campaign were the elites. As the story is told (in Kings, if memory serves) the “priests” “discovered” an “old” document that clarified their religion for them. The King, being a representative of God on Earth (an anointed king, that’s what that means), had this document read from the ramparts of his city, and ordered all of the people to come, hear, and pay heed. If the Bible is to be believed, the message didn’t get out into the hustings at all quickly, nor was it enforced well, as polytheistic practices continued for centuries after this event.

So, this “found” document. What was it? It was a declaration of pure monotheism and the rites need to follow it.

So, one answer to the “why?” question is simply to say that God revealed His true desires this way . . . but that is a specious response. Why did he wait so long? Why wasn’t it clear from the beginning? Why was the worshiping of “false gods” tolerated for so long? And so on. Even the fundamentalists who believe that the Earth is only a bit over 6000 years old would be hard pressed to explain why Yahweh waited until about 2600 years ago to explain the rules of the game.

So, why monotheism, really?

Polytheism has religious tolerance built into it. Monotheism has religious intolerance built into it. When you worship the One True God™ all other gods are false gods. Worshiping them becomes abominable (literally). Your worship is right and correct, theirs is wrong headed and it undermines the worship of the One True God™. Recall that the Christians did not get in trouble with the Romans because they worshiped the OTG™. They got into trouble because they wouldn’t add the emperor to the list of gods to receive worship. What was a simple thing for polytheists was an immensely troubling thing for the Christians. The Christians, in addition, found themselves tying themselves into knots to preserve the illusion of being monotheistic, creating bizarre concepts such as the Trinity. All of the “other” gods and demigods got makeovers or erased. (If Satan isn’t a god, a being powerful enough to oppose Yahweh and still exist, then what is a god?)

Monotheism does cause problems but it also increases team member commitment to the team.

So, why? Why did the elites care to make this change? The obvious answer is power. Later when Christianity became a state religion of Rome, a whole bunch of pagan temples, pagan land, pagan wealth flowed into the hands of the elites. The more lands you got, the more money, the more power you had. (Consider the display of wealth that is the Vatican, all considered “necessary” for the Pope who is a head of state.) Prior to this Roman adoption, Christians didn’t have churches. Afterward they did. The Romans insisted they have “temples” just like all of the other cults.

So, the Hebrew elites (all were religious because you could not be an elite and not be a religious figure) pushed this change and the more power they gathered to themselves, the more they pushed it. (You don’t go faster hitting the brake pedal.) That power was really just in the central halls of government (palaces and temple) but most everybody prefers to be a big fish in a small pond rather than a small one in a big pond.

There really is no other reason. To make it a theological decision, instead of a political decision for example, there is much more to explain, as indicated by some of the above with little in the way of ready explanations. Granted this monotheism brought down criticisms of fanaticism and worse, but Jews tended to be fairly highly regarded because of their consistency. Of course, the Roman elites rarely encountered “ordinary” Hebrews outside of battles and then Roman soldiers were the only ones allowed to touch them. The Roman elites interacted with priests, rulers, merchants and the like. They didn’t even collect their own taxes, they sold the tax receipts to entrepreneurial Hebrews (as tax farmers), which is why “tax collectors” were widely despised. So, the regard for Jews by “the Roman elites” was of the “Jewish elites.” Those rich/powerful people, they sure stick together. This seems to be rooted in their common pursuit of ever more political power.

June 5, 2019

Abortion and the Bible

Filed under: History,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 12:07 pm
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I am aware of an old Jewish tradition to not name their children (boy children anyway) until after the bris which is done on the eighth day after birth. Part of the argument, if I remember rightly, was that the boy child didn’t receive his soul until his bris was performed (or the eighth day or . . . ?).

Since so many troglodytic laws are being passed regarding abortion being supported by people who believe life begins at conception, I am wondering where the idea (life begins at conception) came from. I suspect it was invented for political and not theological reasons.

In any case, does anyone know about this Jewish tradition? Is it in, or supported by, the Jewish Bible?

Thanks!

March 15, 2019

Blood Magic . . . I Wonder Where That Came From?

In the recent Christchurch, New Zealand, massacre of Muslims, one self-identified suspect posted a manifesto which stated, in part: “The origins of my language is European, my culture is European, my political beliefs are European, my philosophical beliefs are European, my identity is European and, most importantly, my blood is European.”

“My blood is European.”

Mate, your blood is red, just like the rest of us.

The role of blood in our cultural imaginings is deep and to its core bogus. For example, in this country’s history, we had laws establishing how African-American people were. We used terms like “octoroon” which now is defined as being “a person who is one-eighth black by descent” or basically having one Black grandparent. But the common people talked about one eighth of a person’s blood being Black. Others said that “one drop” of Black blood made one Black. (This was always puzzling to me because these same idiots claimed that white blood was stronger and better than black blood, so someone with a 50%-50% mix should be classified as white because the 50% white blood was stronger, no?)

Blood magic was borne of ignorance of all but a few basic facts (the primary one being if you lost enough blood, you died). It was promoted through superstition and bias and prejudice (your enemies had bad blood). But what keeps it going centuries after it has been debunked as nonsense?

Ah, culturally blood shows up as a mystical power in religions. Christians and Jews can read about blood magic in their Bibles. They can read about how menstrual blood makes women “unclean” for several days of the month. They can read about how we were all saved “by the blood of a lamb.” They can read about blood sacrifices. They can read about how being born carries sin which resides in the blood. They can read about dietary restrictions involving blood, such as the Torah forbids the consumption of the blood of an animal. (Imagine forbidding the glory which is blood sausage. Amazing.)

So, while us secularists are trying to reduce superstition and ignorance, the religionists are reinforcing it.

Oh, and the manifesto writer which claims “my identity is European” is apparently an Australian. His European language is rooted in the Near East. His DNA is roughly two thirds African in origin and one third Asian in origin. European political beliefs? Really? Is there any political belief you cannot find embedded in Europe? This poor sod is seriously confused . . . but he sure does know how to sling buzz words at a right-ring audience.

It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so. (Anonymous—please do not comment that it was Mark Twain, it appears nowhere in his writings or reporting upon him.)

December 3, 2017

Viewpoints and Mindsets

Filed under: Religion — Steve Ruis @ 10:19 am
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I love NPR. On the way home from work on Saturday I got to hear Karen Armstrong being interviewed. The topic of the show was compassion and the prolific Ms. Armstrong had written a book on the topic (Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life).

If you do not know her, Ms. Armstrong started out wanting to be a nun, but ended up a drop out. She didn’t become an atheist but she eschewed religion for a time. She then ended up devoting her life to studying and writing about religious belief. (I recommend her books; I can’t think of one I read that I didn’t find fascinating.)

One of the most interesting things she said during the interview was that she was in Jerusalem working on a video on Christianity when she decided to read up more on Judaism and Islam and realized that compassion was at the core of all three religions. I almost drove off of the road.

Clearly Ms. Armstrong still has a soft spot for religion.

At another point, she claimed religion had gotten highjacked and used to support wars and terrorism, etc.

Apparently she also believes religions had benign intents from their beginnings.

Once one adopts a different mindset and sees religions as social control mechanisms in the service of secular and religious elites, one comes to different conclusions. Clearly the intent of religions is to control the behavior of the masses. In western religions, the elites never behaved according to the strictures of the religion, those were for the rubes. I believe I have already commented that, during the Renaissance Jewish physicians were forbidden to treat Christians, except that every Pope had a personal Jewish physician to provide him with the highest quality medical care. The first order of business for medieval and later Popes was to make his relatives and himself wealthy and then create a legacy through public works or warfare. No humility was involved. The rules for the masses just do not apply to the elites. This was true then and is true now (consider the criminal sexual predation of today’s elites, both secular and religious, and we end up debating whether the predators are to be punished; no such discussion were to occur of a plebe were to so break the rules).

Once you realize that religions exist to control the behavior of the masses, everything looks different. For example, all major religions involve something of the order of the Golden Rule, which apparently existed prior to any of the religions currently in vogue, so it was appropriated for their wisdom literature. With regard to this core precept, “treat others the way you wish to be treated” (the positive version) and “do not treat others in ways you do not want to be treated” (the negative version), do you see this as a behavior of the elites? Me, not so much. This is something the elites want the masses to embrace. If you get into a donnybrook with your neighbor over how you treated him or he you, one of you may be hurt in that fight and not be able to show up for work the next day and that would hurt business. What the elites desire above all things is obedience, but obedience is a hard sell. Even in religious orders in which it is legislated, there are constant battles over whether to obey or not. (The Vatican bureaucracy is famous for resisting Popes, whom they have sworn to obey. As I said, obedience is a hard sell.) So, instead of strict obedience, there are “social norms” and rules and laws of how we should behave toward one another and especially with regard to our “betters.” Social disorder is bad for the elite’s profits.

So, is compassion at the core of all religions? Consider the first four of the Ten Commandments of Judaism and Christianity (and Islam as it approves of “the book”), the first four of which might be stated as:

  1. And God said all these words: I am – the Lord, took you out of the land of Egypt, out of the prison-house. You are to have no other gods but me.
  2. You are not to make an image or picture of anything in heaven or on the earth or in the waters under the earth: You may not go down on your faces before them or give them worship: for I, the Lord your God, am a God who will not give his honour to another; and I will send punishment on the children for the wrongdoing of their fathers, to the third and fourth generation of my haters; And I will have mercy through a thousand generations on those who have love for me and keep my laws.
  3. You are not to make use of the name of the Lord your God for an evil purpose; whoever takes the Lord’s name on his lips for an evil purpose will be judged a sinner by the Lord
  4. Keep in memory the Sabbath and let it be a holy day. On six days do all your work: But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; on that day you are to do no work, you or your son or your daughter, your man-servant or your woman-servant, your cattle or the man from a strange country who is living among you: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and the sea, and everything in them, and he took his rest on the seventh day: for this reason the Lord has given his blessing to the seventh day and made it holy.

In other words: worship me, as I demand, or else.

I do not detect any compassion in this at all. In fact if one goes through the other six commandments, there seems not to be any compassion there, either. Basically, there are just a lot of “do’s” and “don’ts.” These are all dictates to keep people religious and under the control of religious elites, secular elites also, behaving obediently to the desires of the elites: go to work, do your job, and shut your mouth. If you do this, then those who were your enemies will be punished when they die and you will be rewarded when you die … but while you are alive all you have to do is shut up and do as you are told.

At the core of Judaism and Christianity is one core concept: obedience. Ask yourself: why was Lucifer was kicked out of Heaven? Answer: disobedience. Why were Adam and Eve kicked out of the Garden of Eden? Answer: disobedience. Why did Yahweh punish King David over and over? Answer: disobedience. There are myriad other examples of divine retribution for disobedience. There is little else in those scriptures.

The core of the Abrahamic faiths is not compassion, but obedience. I wonder who that serves?

December 1, 2017

The Argument from Design Started the Whole Thing (Wrongly)!

Filed under: Religion — Steve Ruis @ 9:06 am
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There are many “logical” arguments for the existence of a god or gods and one in common use today is the Argument from Design or more formally the Teleological Argument for God. This argument has been stated in many ways going back thousands of years. Here is one of the more famous versions:

The Teleological Argument For God (Paley)
1. Human artifacts are products of intelligent design; they have a purpose.
2. The universe resembles these human artifacts.
3. Therefore: It is probable that the universe is a product of intelligent design, and has a purpose.
4. However, the universe is vastly more complex and gigantic than a human artifact is.
5. Therefore: There is probably a powerful and vastly intelligent designer who created the universe.

I was reading a fascinating book last night, filled with historical delights (The Sistine Secrets: Michelangelo’s Forbidden Messages in the Heart of the Vatican by Benjamin Blech and Roy Doliner, HarperCollins) and they dropped this bombshell:

Architectural design as a metaphor is so important in classic Jewish thought— later adopted by the Neoplatonic school— that it is linked with the beginning of monotheism and Abraham’s discovery of God. How did Abraham come to the startling conclusion that there must be a single, unique Creator? The Midrash explains that Abraham, living in a pagan world, at first could not conceive of a Higher Power. One day, however, “Abraham passed a palace with beautifully constructed rooms, magnificently tended lawns and intricately planned surroundings and suddenly said to himself, ‘Is it possible that all this came into being on its own without builder or architect? Of course that is absurd. And so too must be the case with this world. Its ingenious design bespeaks a Designer’” (B’resheet Rabbah, 39: 1). It was the concept of a Divine Architect that brought the idea of One God to humanity.

The focus of my interest, Michelangelo, had secretly studied Torah, the Kabbalah, and various Midrashes. People who are focussed on the Christian tradition steadfastly ignore Jewish literature that they have not appropriated, like the Midrashes which are commentaries by scholars on their Bible. (Unlike Christianity, Judaism encourages questioning scripture and seeking answers and these commentaries are just that: questions and the answers they came up with.)

This Midrash states unequivocally that the creator of the major monotheistic religions, Abraham, was stirred to do so solely from the argument from design!

Wow, does this mean our current crop of creationists, those hewing to the concept of Intelligent Design, are right?

Allow me to re-examine the argument from design, with a slightly different focus.

The Teleological Argument Against Gods
It is claimed “This most elegant system of the sun, planets, and comets could not have arisen without the design and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being.” (Isaac Newton).
1. The statement that “This most elegant system of the sun, planets, and comets could not have arisen without the design and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being” is at best an opinion.
2. An all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good, infallible god would never allow his believers to use opinions as proofs.
3. Therefore, if the proof is true then God does not exist.

The grand conclusion is that Abraham based his claim for there being but one god, and not many, on the argument being true, but if the argument is true, then there cannot be a god or gods, then we can conclude that there are no gods by the argument from contradiction (something cannot be both true and false, right and wrong, etc.).

Ta da!

Abraham proved himself wrong!

Postscript If you are a student of history or just like good political intrigue, this is a fabulous book. All kinds of secret messages are buried in the frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, including the current Pope being given the finger! In it you will also learn that in this time period, the Blood Libel was rampant. (Jesus was killed by the Jews, get them! This of course, totally ignores basic facts, like if Jesus were not killed, Christianity wouldn’t exist, plus these people believed their God controlled all things, so how could the Jews have done otherwise than God’s desire, to have His Son sacrificed? That these same people claim to prove the existence of their god by logic stretches credulity.) One consequence of this widespread Jewish persecution was that Jewish doctors were forbidden to practice their medicine on Christians (or else!) … well, except for the Popes, all of whom had a Jewish doctor on staff. (You have to draw a line between doctrine and stupidity apparently.) Hypocrisy, thy name is religion!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 9, 2017

Why is Judaism Considered a “Major” Religion?

Filed under: Religion — Steve Ruis @ 12:11 pm
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When people in the U.S. are asked to name the “major” religions, they usually say “Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.” These are the so-called “Abrahamic Religions.” But why is Judaism considered to be on this list. Christianity claims 33% of the world’s population (They are No. 1, they are No. 1!), Islam has 21%, Judaism has … 0.2% and for comparison the Bahá’í Faith represents around 0.1%. According to Wikipedia, ahead of Judaism in popularity (in order) are:
Spiritism
Sikhism
African traditional religions
Ethnic religions
Buddhism
Chinese traditional religions
Hinduism
Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/atheist
Islam, and
Christianity.

The relationship of Judaism to the rest of the world is of the same proportion as is Spiritualism to Catholicism within Christianity in the U.S. Actually, in the U.S., the Don’t Knows” in the Pew Poll register at three times the above concentration. (Although, to be fair, in the U.S. and just the U.S. the Jews outnumber the “Don’t Knows” three to one.)

I was going to include a histogram to show how the number of Judaism adherents stack up against the numbers of Christians and Muslims, but the column representing the Jews wouldn’t show up unless I made the graph ridiculously tall, they are that far back in adherents.

So, why do people consider Judaism a “major” religion when it is drawing very minor, basically fringe, numbers? Is it because of its role as a stepping stone to Christianity in the mind’s of Christians? Is it because the wacko right-wing thinks that “Jews run the world?” Is it because being a Jew is hard, but being a Christian is easy and we want to reward their zeal?

Anybody got an answer to this one?

August 27, 2017

Correct Religious Belief … or Not?

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

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