Friday, September 10, 2004

Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Wiccan: None of the Above

Whether they are fundamentalists or muslims, pagans or Catholics, “faithful” people continually argue and bicker over their respective belief systems and their rights. No one seems to argue, however, about the actual truth of these “faiths.” Are they all true? All aiming for the same spiritual goal? Obviously the Christians—-whether protestant or catholic--have the majority and the weight of tradition behind them, for better or worse. So their “faith” would appear to merit the term “religion,” whereas pagans who follow, say, Wotan, or Hecate or whatever are better termed a “cult”: the distinction seemingly a matter of how many sheep are in the fold.

It seems not to have occurred to any of these “faithful” humans (regardless if they are Baptist conservative-hypocrite types, muslim zealots aiming their prayers towards Mecca, or a small group of lesbian orgy gals chanting to the Moon Goddess) that there is no rational explanation or justification for their beliefs. Faith is not a method of proof. And no miracles have ever been confirmed (notwithstanding regular reports of, say, the Virgin of Guadalupe), nor are there any grounds for believing in occult or mystical phenomena. Jesus walking on water OR an all-seeing prophet such as Mohammed OR a moon goddess OR the zodiac are all, I assert, equally false.

We might agree that there are noble ethical truths expressed in religious texts; the Sermon on the Mount provides some decent rules for human conduct, even if we don’t subscribe to the belief system. Many reasonable humans would agree the Ten Commandments are in principle correct, I think; we might also respect Buddha’s teachings that “life is suffering.” Yet these ethical rules are not usually what is being debated. What is debated is who or what we should worship, what is the proper theological authority, what is the appropriate spiritual King that we should obey.

Instead of obeying some godly authority (which is, if we adhere to any reasonable, scientific viewpoint, at best a metaphor), however, we should obey reason, or rather base our actions and beliefs on reason and scientific thinking if possible. Your car does not operate courtesy of Jesus, the Buddha or Hecate; “Mohammed” has nothing to do with your computer. Wotan or Krishna do not make an appearance on the Periodic Table.

Obviously the Founding Fathers made sure that no particular faith would become the state religion, and no citizen is required to be a member of any church. We should recall that Founding Fathers such as Jefferson or Franklin or Washington did not subscribe to any organized form of Christianity; their ideas and thoughts being more molded by Enlightenment thought and Greek rationalism. That type of rationality is now, unfortunately, in short supply.

Prove me wrong.

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