Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holy Uncertainty


I have decided that, unless something specific and immediate comes up, I shall not discuss religion tomorrow. I could give some sort of rationalization for this decision, but ultimately it just doesn't feel right. So, you get my religious musings today instead. Of course, if you sleep at a normal time you probably are asleep even as I write this, so, at the earliest, you will read this on Christmas and thus negate all my planning to avoid mixing my religion with your, possibly, holy day, and if not, probably a day you would prefer to ignore religion. Sorry.

Anyway, our family went to a candlelight service this evening, as is our wont. During a prayer the pastor prayed for something to the effect that all Christians proclaim boldly that Jesus is God and Savior, which got me to thinking. While I am ok with boldly proclaiming that one believes this, I feel that proclaiming it as fact is problematic.

On an ethical level, I think a statement of fact rather than belief leaves less room for mutual respect. If I believe something, then someone may disagree with me and, although I think that they are wrong, I will admit that their position seems like a valid one to take. On the other hand, treating something as an evident fact indicates that those who disagree hold invalid positions, and, as such, one is already assuming they are stupid or ignorant.

On a more metaphysical note, I think that we now know enough to know how much we don't know. Or, to put it another way, if all of someone's information was garnered through dogmatic recitation of traditional explanations or personal superstitions, then asserting a belief as a fact would be no big deal. However, as we have developed more complicated ways of looking at truth, and gained more reliable information, I would like to think that we have also gained an appreciation for what we cannot quantify and pin down. We have assumed a more mature attitude of rational, tempered belief, rather than the spoiled assertion that belief must be truth that a willful child might make.

I do not intend these remarks solely for Christians, although theirs is the religion with which I am most familiar, nor even solely for the "religious." This applies equally well to the militant atheists who, with dogmatic certainty, proclaim that deities do not exist. They too tend to denigrate the mental faculties of those with whom they disagree, attempting to substitute ad hominem insults for coherent arguments. I suppose my ultimate message is that we all ought to respect, not agree with, people who believe other things until they give us reason not to, and that simple disagreement is not sufficient cause. I guess that isn't such a bad message for Christmas after all.


elfarmy17 said...

**smiles and holds up Agnostic flag**

As my friend said to me the other night, "If you proved to me that God does not exist, what would change? Nothing. And if I proved to you that he does, what would change? Nothing. I am not an atheist simply because I choose not to be."
I guess that's the advantage of deism.

Kenny said...

What is the advantage?

elfarmy17 said...

That it doesn't matter whether or not you're right.

Kenny said...

I have to admit, I would like to be right, I'm arrogant like that.

I think I may be missing the point. I feel like most deists would stop if someone could prove that God didn't exist, whatever that means. And most atheists would probably also stop if someone could prove that God did exist, again, whatever that means.