Monday, March 09, 2009

Religion's Role in World Improvement and Homosexuality

This video is about religion's role in making the world a better or worse place. The hosts say that religion, or something like religion, is required to make good people do bad things. I wouldn't go so far as to say its the fault of religion. I believe that it is the fault of dogma. It is the fault of holding an unwavering position that the person holds and refuses to question or challenge it. Regardless of what dogma it is that one holds, regardless of whether it is good or bad, is unhealthy and unsafe in my opinion. Remember, my dear friend who I have great respect for and is an excellent person is willing to kill children if given the order. That is sickening to hear and it disgusts me, especially when it comes from someone as great as she.

Here's the thing. Every one of these religions have different beliefs. They can't possibly all be right, but they can all be wrong.

I like that statement. In fact, in the past couple of days I've been trying to hypothesize how believers, including my close friend, regard religions other than their own. (I'd like to speak to some of them, but I don't have any theists in my life that I think would be comfortable talking about this). A small part of the reason for my atheism is because I look at all religions, not just one. I look at the different beliefs, the dogmatic claims they make, the truths that they assert without evidence, and the testimonials given by followers of each faith. Whenever anyone has a "personal experience" with their God, why is it that it is always the God that they worship? Why don't Muslims hear from the Christian God, or Christians hear the word of Allah? (I'm sure there are a few cases where one heard the God of another religion, but such cases are a minority I presume).

The topic then turns to homosexuality and the caller states that his church teaches that it is wrong because God made people to have children. I really like how Matt (the host on the right) responds to that. He basically asks the caller to think for himself, and to question whether it is morally or ethically acceptable to condemn homosexuals. If his only justification is hearsay from his preacher or indirectly from his God (written in the bible), then he has pretty bad justification for holding that position. I agree completely. When you are accepting an argument or statement from someone else, you need to have good reasons for doing so. I admit that I trust many things that scientists say because I've studied and participated in the scientific process, and I have confidence in the results it produces. Its not the product of one scientist, but of many. And that community together weeds out the false theories and evidence so that they can be as certain as possible that the views of modern science are correct.

On the contrary, if you believe in a single person (your pastor) and you believe everything he says is absolutely true, what if one day he suffers a stroke or mental disorder and starts spouting nonsense that is not true? For example, what if he claimed that God said all homosexuals should be stoned to death and that it was the responsibility of every member of that church to follow that command? Would you still accept his statement verbatim and not question it? Oh and by the way, God did say that! "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them." - Leviticus 20:13. If I was a theist, unless I received the word from God himself, I would not accept what others told me that God did or did not say. How can I know that what they perceived was true? They could be lying, they could be misinterpreting what God actually said, or they could just be completely nuts.

Toward the end of the video the caller says that if everyone was homosexuals, humanity would end. The hosts make an excellent point that even were that so, how would that make it immoral or unethical? I really like what Tracie (host on the left) follows up with. "If the next generation were all women, would that mean that it is then wrong to be a woman?". Kudos to her for that great point. While I'm on the subject, I should mention that I am a strong supporter of gay rights and its not because I am an atheist. Its because I looked at how gays are discriminated (especially by religious people...hmmm) and decided that was wrong. It was wrong in the exact same way that African Americans were discriminated against and that women were discriminated against. (I say "were", but really a lot of that discrimination sadly continues to this day). I would also like to point out that religion, again, was a significant factor for the discrimination of all three of those demographics. Religion makes the world a better place, right?

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