Thursday, February 14, 2008

Hell Awaits

After spending a few years terrorizing Jewbiquitous, I have decided to become a real blogger. I would like to say a few words about myself. I was born on the darkest day of the year in 1982, baptized soon thereafter, and indoctrinated into the Christian faith. I was a bit of a Christian wunderkind as a child, my knowledge of the New Testament being impressive enough that I was put on public access television as a testament (pun intended) to my church's program of religious instruction. I can't say that I walked around in a spiritual haze, but I do remember fearing for my immortal soul after finding out what "goddamn" meant. Then something...happened. I started questioning things. At the age of 13 I began researching the fabled Shroud of Turin, in a vain attempt to locate a single piece of evidence that supported the supposed divinity of Christ. My stepmother took notice of what I was doing and self-righteously proclaimed that she "[did] not need evidence to ground [her] faith." And all I could think was, "Well I do." (Of course, I kept that sentiment to myself.)

Two other things happened. I became concomitantly obsessed with science and heavy metal music. Science depicted the world in a rational and parsimonious way. It responded to evidence and availed itself of the tools of rationality. The whole point of science, I found out, was to prove the old guard wrong. And, when it was done correctly, its theories were only taken as seriously as their rational coherence, responsiveness to evidence, and predictive power warranted. Meanwhile, heavy metal gave me a feeling of spiritual connectedness - a sense of transcending the confines of my corporeal existence - that religion used to provide me with but no longer did. "Observing the Sabbath" now meant listening to the thunderous bass lines of Geezer Butler and the pleading, demonic wails of Ozzy Osbourne.

I bring this up just to point out that I get it. I understand that people want an explanation for the way things are and a sense of spiritual transcendence. And I understand that's the function religion serves in many people's lives.

But...

Religion is FALSE and MORALLY OBJECTIONABLE. And the two are connected: It is morally objectionable not to try to reach the most rational and justifiable conclusions based on the available evidence. It is a violation of your responsibilities as a rational and reflective person. We cannot morally deliberate to our best abilities unless we actively try to believe truths instead of falsehoods. And religion is so obviously false, so patently ridiculous and childish and silly and primitive, while at the same time being so ubiquitous, that it represents a particularly salient and pernicious mode of irrationalism. It is a grave evil, a blight on the common intellectual dignity of our species, and an impediment to our moral development.

I propose that as a society we stop defending the indefensible and start putting pressure on religion. For reasons beyond my comprehension, religion is enveloped in a sphere of protection that largely quarantines it from the rational scrutiny it deserves. What can we do to undermine this protective sphere? For one, let's all stop invoking platitudes about respecting faith. Faith in 'God' (a vacuous concept if there ever was one) is no more worthy of respect than faith that you hold the winning lottery ticket (perhaps less worthy - some people have actually won the lottery). Let's also point out to religious people that their beliefs do not hold up to rational scrutiny, and indicate the ways in which what they do to their children (brainwashing, arbitrary segregation, genital mutilation, etc.) sustains a self-generating cycle of abuse.

Not that I have strong feelings about this stuff.


3 comments:

Ragoth said...

I feel like I have met a brother I never knew I had.

Welcome to the blog.

The Rooster said...

Thanks, man!

Zie said...

Welcome TR. I agree with you that religion should not be held to some untouchable status... and when the chips fall I stand on the side of science the majority of the time.

That said... I also think that religion does have a place (a similar place as your love of metal.. or the feeling I get at a dead show..) and if secularists wish to actually have a meaningful conversation about religion, with people for whom religion is actually alive, then we're going to have to approach it from something other than "you are just being irrational and therefore wrong."

I have no answers, just a deep feeling of "i do what i want, and so should you."