DiplomatiCat the Talking Beast

Inspired By Ire, Impelled By Ideal … "Never a TAME Lion"

Reality vs. Religion: MUST it be one or the other?

“Thought you’d like this”  from Lee Zim, via Facebook:


And then this happened, again. What began as comment outgrew that mental space and become commentary, more suited to blog post than message reply:

LoL – I don’t think that is even an excuse for Palin, since she probably hasn’t even read THAT one. ( Certainly not too carefully, if she thinks the POPE is too liberal. Just wait till she meets JESUS! =D )

I opened the door to someone canvassing for prop 8 support some time ago, and as some of my best people would be directly affected by that law, and I would find anyone who would hurt my friends to be offensive, I was so appalled that someone had dared come knocking on my door to ask me to support such nonsense that all I could do was splutter at them for a moment as I had no words and just ended up slamming the door in the their face rather than tell them what I thought with some choice language. Still, I spent the rest of the day muttering to myself in anger and disgust at the audacity and generally in a foul mood.

It occurred to me that there might have been a better way to handle that, instead of me being po’ed for hours afterward and probably leaving that person thinking I was some rude dyke who didn’t deserve to be treated like a real person since I couldn’t even be kind to them and strengthening their resolve. I wondered what would have happened if I had tried talking with them and explaining why I didn’t agree with that particular idea, and at first had a bit of a panicky reaction too when I said to myself that, to be fair, I would also have to listen to their reasoning behind why I should support it, and OMG what if they actually managed to change my mind? But then I realized that in order to actually do that , they would have to present a sound argument that made sense enough for me to do so, and if it did that, then it was probably alright if I should change my mind anyway, since that would be the stronger position. I realized that as unlikely as that was, I still needn’t be afraid of it happening should it be that one in a million chance.

Armed with that reasoning, I concluded that the next time someone should come knocking and propose some outrageousness, I would NOT angrily slam the door in their face without a word, but instead engage the enemy on the field of reason and discussion. I figured that way, one of several things could happen: 1) they could convince me of their position and I would change my mind (unlikely, but possible). 2) I could convince them of MY position and change their mind, (also unlikely but possible) and 3) even if neither of us would budge, at the very least they would have spent the time talking to me instead of getting further down the block and the very delay might stop them from gaining some additional support for their nonsense, so it was still a win for me in that case. And thus, no more muttering to myself about the NERVE of those dipshits to come asking me for THAT…

So when the Jehovah’s Witness came by about a year ago, despite waking me up to answer the door on a Saturday morning, instead of saying no thanks, and not interested, I said, “Okay, sure, why not? ” and sat down to chat a bit. We’ve developed a nice acquaintance, and I do actually enjoy our discussions when she stops by from time to time. I can say that at least this particular group doesn’t discourage the questions and challenges, which is more credit than I would have previously given them. I was impressed too to find things that others don’t point out in the scriptures which, surprisingly, also might encourage some critical thinking and open mindedness right there in the Rule Book too. It’s been an enlightening experience thus far, and LaKeisha is actually someone I don’t mind knowing. I try to make time to talk with her even when I am not in the mood, because it is usually a learning moment about something no matter what.

I had a conversation with my Jehovah’s Witness friend last week, and she brought another member of the Church along with her this time, that was a bit older. We got to discussing the origins of Satan and the idea that Satan created himself with the evil thoughts and the pride and the greed, and essentially taking himself off the path of righteousness. And because Adam and Eve were essentially the mold for humanity, and because they were tempted by him and led astray, that we all were going to be inherently imperfect as any bread from a dented mold will be dented. This concept was applied as to man, how we might become obsessed with evil thoughts and then act upon them given the opportunity if that is what we spend our minds energy concentrating on all the time.

What was most interesting about this to me, as I have found a lot that I can relate to general philosophy as well as some of the more specific Buddhist ideas that I am familiar with through my Dad, was that what it essentially comes down to is, like anything else, cause and effect. The concept of Karma is essentially cause and effect as well, even when discussing a Karma spread out over several lifetimes, or even kalpas of lifetimes, as the Sutras say.

I am always careful not to tread heavily on the beliefs of the very dedicated to their faith, as that never ends well, but I have found that I do like to test the edges of those beliefs a bit, especially when dealing with those who take the Bible at face value as though it were a strict accounting of fact from the hand of God, rather than the product of man and allegorical collection of wisdom combined over the ages. I think there is room for something in between the bearded fairy father in the sky and the idea that it is all some random uncontrolled explosion of matter and energy that has no other purpose except to be fleeting chaos. And I try to challenge some of the literal interpretation with something that is equally meaningful and holds the same lessons of why some behavior is self destructive to try and loosen the rigidity of the zealots who don’t appear to be able to recognize obvious horse puckey for what it is when they say it is all written exactly as it happened LITERALLY. (Mind boggling how otherwise seemingly rational folks can’t allow for the possibility that God is not some dude on a golden throne on the clouds, but more all encompassing than some patriarchal OTHER consciousness entirely that we have to OBEY or else.)

At any rate, this was one of those opportunities to try and temper some of the inherent idiocy in the folks who are so deeply indoctrinated in their religion. They are talking to me, trying to convince me that theirs is the only way to believe, and they don’t know that I am there talking to them to try and show them it is not. I figure its an opportunity to learn and spread intelligence and a seed of open mindedness, should the ground be fertile. If not, at least its a good way to keep my reasoning sharp and also is surprisingly supportive of my own spiritual understanding, and remains a challenge to keep my own faith grounded, and I found some affirmation in the things that seem to resonate in reality and spiritually equally well.

Such was the case with this notion of we shall reap what we sow, and I tried to say so to my guests, by gently explaining how there are many religions that believe in reincarnation and the how the concept of Karma was applicable to this same idea of this evil creating itself rather than being of God’s work to inflict it upon us (which would paint God in a rather cruel and unfavorable light.)  Even though I never even validated the idea that one might experience an actual reincarnation, my point was that the concept of what we put in motion is what follows us with consequences of that action is something more than just a Biblical construct of Satan, but one that is founded in reason and science and other worldly philosophies as well .  I try to do that wherever possible, as an illustration that perhaps the reason to follow some of the precepts of the Bible is not (or not JUST) because God has decreed it so, but because they are in fact reasonable ways to behave so as not to end up destroying ourselves.

And sure, perhaps that may be why God decreed it so, but really as a reason to do something it lacks impetus for any non-believer.   It is my hope that I shall encounter more frequently in life more people like my friend from MIT, who is living proof that religious faith and critical thinking skills need not be mutually exclusive.  Since it is notoriously difficult to sway the critical thinker to a faith, I am hoping to inspire some faithful to embrace their minds as well as God.

But anyway, as this entire point was brought up with the discussion of Adam and Eve chatting with Satan in the form of a snake in the Garden, then, I had to repress a rather exasperated smirk when the older woman’s reaction was to frown and insist, “Well that is different, than what WE’RE talking about. THIS is REAL.”


And THIS would be why intelligent folks are so often atheists.

But I stifled the urge to shake my head and roll my eyes, and kept quiet. The younger one, there is possibly some hope to find a middle ground there, and even more so with her daughter, but the older one is pretty well rooted in the literal word there, and I am not likely to do more than annoy her if I push.

This Pope Francis now, though… he gives me some hope that not all who are deeply religious are also deeply idiotic. I LOVE what he’s done with the place… =D


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