In response to Burr Deming's
Year End, New Year, Cliff Notes, Gun Violence
I confess I have never been able to generate within myself much empathy with the anger that so many invest in debates about spirituality.
- Burr Deming, January 5, 2013
Some people are angry because they don't want to be affected by others' religious beliefs.
Some people are angry because they view religion as a scam.
Some people are angry because they believe that religion spreads immorality without offering sufficient benefit.
Some people are angry because of their personal experience with religion and, perhaps, their shame over being involved with it.
Some people are angry because they despise irrationality and belief in the absence of (or opposition to) evidence.
The last is perhaps the most compelling for me. It would bother me if a large group of people--especially a majority of my country or the world--believed that 2 + 2 = 5. Would it bother you?
Ryan also writes for his own site, where reason prevails and opposition to irrationality is never despised.
Please visit Secular Ethics.
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People generally make a distinction between the two. They think of a religious but non-spiritual person as one who obeys the rules of some institution without feeling, who is perhaps lost in the details of his faith without understanding its value as a whole. They think of a spiritual but non-religious person as the opposite.
It is somewhat in vogue to claim to be spiritual, but not religious. It is thought to convey that one lives his life beyond dogma without having lost some valuable element of the "religious experience." The downside, as I see it, is that this is often an excuse for people to believe whatever feels best.
While I also resent religious dogma, I ascribe no particular value to spirituality. Whether one is religious or spiritual, he has a belief system that can be analyzed according to logic and science.
It promotes a damaging and bigoted fake morality consisting of arbitrary sexual taboos.
It has fought against scientific progress every step of the way for centuries and continues to do so. Its opposition to evolution and stem-cell research threatens to put the United States at a disadvantage relative to more secular countries whose educational systems are uncontaminated by such nonsense.
It promotes a smug, arrogant, superior attitude among believers. Anyone who has ever been targeted by proselytizers knows what I'm talking about.
Yes, we are well aware that you would like the freedom to break the law when it does not suit your beliefs. Now, join the rest of us in acknowledging the harm that such a freedom would cause if it were extended to everyone.
Not all lies are without value. Some lies have virtue. If I could believe in a Supreme Being, I would.
As for the idea of getting angry or upset that the majority believes that two plus two equals five, that it a problem in the angry fellow more than a problem in the believer. His psyche is damaged in some way. Through wrong about many things himself, as all humans are, he resents it when others are wrong where he is not. He is constructing his own unhappiness, irrationally, I daresay.
Yes, but when people in power make decision or law based upon their poor math skills (to keep with the stated example) then I think it's all of our problems. To pick real world example: the birth control pill. Many people believe that the pill prevents implantation and view it like an abortifacient (even though the definition of when pregnancy begins is sometimes defined as after implantation anyway). It doesn't, even though that's what the FDA label says. It prevents ovulation. And if that fails, it prevents conception. But the warning label was made in this misconception (look! a pun!) and now legislators are trying to make laws based on this falsehood (to give them the benefit of the doubt).
With all due respect, certain interpretations of the Constitution are clearly absurd. Yours appears to be that you can opt out of any given law as long as you can find a religious basis for doing so. By that reasoning, anyone can opt out of any law according to "the dictates of [his] faith and conscience." And so it all falls down.
Actually, the US has passed a lot of legislation that violates people's rights to religious freedoms. Mormons and Muslims cannot marry more than one wife. Muslim women have to remove their veil when they have their driver license picture taken (iirc). Rastafarians cannot smoke marijuana. And then, of course, there are a host of practices that the Bible tells people to do that just aren't done anymore but would be illegal if someone tried to do it (beating children, killing nonbelievers, corporal punishment for crime). So while I'm not a Biblical scholar and I certainly don't know your mind and what religious freedoms you feel were violated, I do know that this country allows violations of religious liberties if they pass the Lemon test. Personally, I fail to see how excepting churches from the insurance mandate (the exception, in my view, has the primary purpose of promoting religion) but I accept that forcing employees to ovulate isn't a tenant of their faith and I just misunderstood something.
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