Posts Tagged ‘knowledge

30
Nov
09

Balanced, Not Superstitous

I’m sure this post will earn some guffaws and maybe some blow-back from my loyal readers who happen to be atheists or semi-militant agnostics, but here goes…

My belief in God, and Jesus for that matter, is not a sign of any of the following:

  • Fear of death
  • Insecurity
  • Superstition
  • Desire to belong to a group
  • An aching emptiness inside that I wanted to fill
  • Delusion
  • Idiocy
  • Lack of scientific awareness
  • Immaturity

In fact, I see a lot of maturity and balance in my worldview. And that is because I deny neither the scientific nor the spiritual. I’m not saying I have all the answers in life, but what I do have is a lot of internal security and well-being.

I don’t understand when entirely secular folks insist that to be fully mature, I must deny my belief in, and search for, spiritual meaning. Just as I don’t understand religious people who insist on ignoring science and reason.

Humans have sought spiritual discernment for a long time, and for quite a number of centuries (in fact, a couple millennia at least), it hasn’t been about explaining why it rains or how the sun moves across the sky or anything like that. It’s been about a deeper kind of meaning. People who dismiss religion as an artifact of ignorant ancient goat herders is doing a disservice to goat herders (many of whom, I am sure, had deeper thoughts than screwing their herd-stock and picking at their asses) and a disservice to spiritual seekers.

Yes, there was a time when religion was all about explaining worldly things. But as people have advanced, so has the depth and maturity of spiritual seeking. Sure, there are plenty of idiots in the world who follow religion and religious leaders blindly and skim only the surface of religious precepts, but most people seem to prefer following someone than thinking for themselves.

Funny thing is, spiritual seeking, while it cannot follow the scientific method, does still follow the same general progression as science. That is, as humans have advanced, so has the study. Science was once a pretty pathetically ignorant, simplistic and sketchy affair, just like religion.

The problem is that the more we figure out about the world, the more full of ourselves and our intelligence we become, and the more we think we don’t need God. We are not slowly disproving God, but simply pushing him aside unnecessarily.

If more believers would be mature about their spiritual seeking, and more non-believers would stop ridiculing those who are trying to find spiritual meaning, maybe religion wouldn’t be the mess it has become these days. Now, both sides, secular and religious, essentially call the other side a bunch of heretics, which solves nothing.

I can already see one retort coming.

But science is rational. Science doesn’t lead to oppression or wars!

Wrong.

Maybe it doesn’t have the same track record right now, but religion had a hell of a head start. People can blindly follow a scientific theory or finding as much as a biblical principle. Science and research can be twisted, skewed and misrepresented.

Hmmmm. Just like religion.

The Nazis based their genocidal campaign in World War II based on “science” that showed Aryans were superior. Noted intellects justified slavery by “proving” that Blacks weren’t as evolved or even as human as Whites. Medical science can downplay the horrors of abortion, even as it can also be used to overplay them. Research shows us that it isn’t cost-effective or “useful” to pay for certain types of medical screening or healthcare, and so insurance companies and hospital executives can oppress us to sickness or even death. Religious groups can call homosexuals deviant because they can point to a  lack of scientific proof that same-sex desires are inherited rather than learned or chosen. Need I go on?

Science is on pace to do everything that religion did and more. It can bring us together in understanding and truth and good guidance. And it can tear us apart.

Science is not the be-all and end-all of human experience, and it never will be. Nor shall religion or any kind of spiritual pursuit. I maintain that both are entirely necessary to being mature humans.

18
Feb
08

Lo, the Antichrist shall be a vegan…

inconvenient-truth.jpg…and forsooth, the Evil One shall also drive an alternative-fuel vehicle and own a copy of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.” And he shall recycle and perform all other manner of wickedness. 

Or, at least, that’s the vibe I came away with from a sermon I heard a couple months ago, wherein the pastor equated the shoppers at Whole Foods, Wild Oats and similar stores as being “earth worshippers.” He even went so far as to actually say that most vegetarians are, essentially, practitioners of paganism. 

Well, my wife and I try to buy organic when we can, and we’ve toyed with vegetarianism a couple times (but the bacon and pork chops and hamburgers always wooed us back with their greasy charms), but we’re both evangelically based and believe Jesus is Lord and savior and son of God. 

And therein lies a big problem with too many of my Christian brothers and sisters. There are those who are critical thinkers, but all too often, those who are most dedicated to the Word of God somehow forget to read much else but the Bible. And it’s scary sometimes the level of cluelessness this can engender. 

The other day at church, for example, a woman whose baby had been having massive teething told my wife a friend had suggested relieving the discomfort with some clove. A suggestion she promptly shelved when her husband told her that sounded an awful lot like witchcraft. I guess with folks like Pasteur who recognized the antibacterial properties of certain molds and gave the world penicillin, we should have burned them at the stake, eh? I mean, some common sense would help here. Using herbal remedies and holistic therapies isn’t practicing magic. Using an herb or something else with legitimate biochemical properties (assuming it’s safe to consume in the first place) is no worse than taking a medicine in a bottle. 

Now, if someone tells you to dig up a mandrake root, put a drop of your blood on it and stick in a bowl of milk under your bed for some healing, well, I don’t think I need to spell (pun entirely intended) out what that is. But when was the last time you saw health food stores selling a kit like that on the shelves? 

The big problem with this kind of narrow-minded thinking is that Christians lose out on all sorts of opportunities to understand other people, whether they raise their kids in a different style or eat different foods or practice whole other freaking religions. How can anyone evangelize to a person if they’re already misinterpreting their actions from the get-go? If I look at someone who likes yoga and crystals and I assume that means they’re some New Age wiccan (and miss that the person in an agnostic lapsed Catholic who just likes being limber and owning shiny objects), I’m already coming to this person from entirely the wrong direction. 

More than that, it’s just plain ignorant. And willful ignorance is like fingernails on the chalkboard of my mind.

Frankly, I get pretty damned tired of non-Christians painting me with some broad brush and thinking I’m a self-righteous Jesus freak just because I’m a Christian who believes in the Bible (more on that in tomorrow’s post). It would be awfully hypocritical of me to make broad assertions about their spiritual systems (or lack thereof) without having read and studied something about them. Hell, at least recognize that there are huge differences between Wiccans, Pagans, Druids and Satanists (just to mention a few groups that get tossed together into the same pot on a regular basis). 

So, if you think the Christian walk is worth about as much use as tits on a bull, let me be the first to tell you that even if you think my faith is foolish, remember that some of us can be believers without handing over our critical thinking at the door to be mindless automatons. And for my brothers and sisters in Christ who think it’s OK not to know or understand other belief systems—well, damn, doesn’t the Bible tell us to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves? God never told us to be ignorant dolts and judgmental assholes. 




Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley

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