Following a recent discussion elsewhere on this blog, I feel it necessary to clarify my feelings about something.
If I state that a specific behavior or mindset is down to religious beliefs, I am not necessarily saying that it’s bad — just that it is what it is.
When adherents of said religions protest and insist that it has nothing to do with religion or faith, they undermine their own principles — their own god(s).
If people believe that something is “right” because of faith in God or the Bible, Allah or the Qur’an, etc., I see no reason to deny it. Trying to justify or rationalize these beliefs in some other way gives the impression that they are ashamed of this faith, that they know it is illogical and irrational. More often than not, they end up strengthening the opposition, when it becomes apparent through their own words that there is no rational basis for their position.
The flip side of this is the handful of religious people confident enough in their faith to admit that there is no other explanation for what they believe. They do not mock science in one breath and then try to use it to justify their faith in the next. I can respect these people and have no trouble taking them seriously. They know what their faith is and don’t try to redefine it.
Most importantly to me, they are honest with themselves and others.
So when I say that such-and-such is a religious principle and nothing more, I am not making a judgement call, but an observation. It is what it is. Nothing more, nothing less. If you have so little confidence in your reasoning that you find it necessary to deny the source of it, you shouldn’t expect anyone else to take you seriously. I certainly won’t!
If you trip all over yourself while you go through every logical contortion in the book to convince people that your religious beliefs are something besides what they are, your dishonesty is obvious and everyone listening knows you don’t take your own beliefs seriously enough to acknowledge their source.
I can’t imagine arguing from a viewpoint if I could not even admit its starting place. It just wouldn’t seem worth arguing.
In this vein, a story I learned as a kid springs to mind:
66 And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest: 67 And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth.
68 But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew. 69 And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them.
70 And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto. 71 But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak.
72 And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.
The Bible – Mark 14:66-72
Appropriate, don’t you think?