Friday, November 27, 2009
Be open minded, not so much that your brains fall out. When it comes to religion, so many so called "open minded" people seem to assume that religions only make claims that can NOT be tested. As a result of such thinking, they don't analyze religious claims, testing them to see if they might be true. Can you get more narrow-minded than that?
Sure, I can't claim every belief proclaimed by every religion is testable. For instance, when Islam claims that that the Koran is its only miracle in that it is divinely inspired, how do you test such a claim?
But on the other hand, when a religious worldview makes a claim on human nature, or makes a specific prediction of an event that has already passed, or on the nature of the universe, where such claims are testable, why should we bury our heads in the sand in the name of being "open-minded"?
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel gave us a system known as the dialectic that can basically be summarized as, postulate a thesis, test it against it's antithesis and come up with a synthesis. An example is in order:
Some worldviews claim that the universe is eternal. This is now testable. The Hubble satellite has found a red shift in the universe that indicates that the space is expanding. This is further confirmed by the fact that the farther we look out in space with a telescope, the closer stars and galaxies are clustered. If space is expanding, then it must have had a beginning.
Before the 1500's, the common worldview was that the heavens were unchanging. In 1572, supernovae were discovered. It would NOT be open-minded to say all worldviews are true therefore both sides of the space is or isn't changing are right. It would not be discerning to ignore the evidence that points in one direction. So why do many people treat religious claims differently?
Occam's razor is validated through the dialectic process. Occam's razor says do not multiply entities unnecessarily. In other words, Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS method). When Copernicus theorized that the celestial bodies were not orbiting around the Earth, it wasn't because of observation, but because of the simplicity of the model.
Later observation has confirmed Copernicus, further validating Occam's razor as a result.
Using the dialectic process, I can't believe in Hinduism because it claims the existence of millions of Deities, thus violating Occam's razor of not multiplying entities (Deities) unnecessarily.
Although, I have the most respect for it, I reject Buddhism because it's answer to man's suffering is to make man essentially numb by prescribing that we rid of ourselves of all attachments. Medical science can do this by medicating someone into a vegetative state. If you think that is too extreme of an example, I have watched a close family member medicated with antipsychotic medications that took away this person's "attachments" and made them lethargic and carefree.
I reject Islam because it says kill infidel. Faith can never be coerced or imposed. BTW, I don't claim every Muslim to be such an extremist, but I would suggest that a moderate Muslim is contradicting the Koran which they try to live by.
However Judeo-Christianity makes some testable claims that I can't find a fault in. It has been saying that the universe is "spread like a tent" in over ten places within the Bible.
Judeo-Christianity teaches that there is one God, although I admit that the concept of the trinity is a threat to complying to Occam's razor.
Despite the historical exceptions where people in the name of Christ have killed others in crusades and inquisitions, the actual teachings of Christ are clear that the Gospel is to be spread through persuasion (preaching) and NEVER through such means.
And what Judeo-Christianity says about human nature is probably most profound and easiest to validate. It claims that man's nature is bent towards selfishness. Among so many other things, it also validates our human right to own possessions thru one of the ten commandments stating "Thou shall not steal."
The success of nations with capitalist economies validates this combination. Capitalism. Unlike other economic systems, which either try to make everyone equal in what they own, or where the Government owns everything, modern history gives us an undeniable truth that an economic system that capitalizes on man's selfishness, turning it into a means for him to serve others for gain, yields the most success. BTW, I don't claim capitalism is perfect.
It has been said that the world would be perfect if it weren't for people. 90% of the evil that occurs in the world is not the result of natural disasters or sickness. Most of the suffering that occurs in the world the result of the selfishness and lack of restraint of others.
This lack of restraint can sometimes only be justified by altruism. Altruism only makes sense if there's a God who is always looking even when others are not. When we CAN get away with committing a selfish act, dishonest gain, etc., the only reason we can come up with to walk the straight and narrow is if there is a God who keeps score.
I've quoted it before, but it bears repeating. Cardinal Emmanuel Suhard once said:
"To be a witness does not consist in engaging in propaganda, nor even in
stirring people up, but in being a living mystery. It means to live in
such a way that one s life would not make sense if God did not exist."
Life without altruistic behavior would be unlivable, so why wouldn't a life lived without God be the same?
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
The latest Adam Lambert controversy at the AMA music awards (see http://www.nydailynews.com/gossip/2009/11/23/2009-11-23__adam_lambert_delivers_raunchy_ama_performance_filled_with_hip_thrusts_crotch_gr.html) gives the illusion of being about censorship, but make no mistake, this is really about purpose and meaning.
After the show, Lambert hailed his shocking performance as freedom of expression. But if one were to ask Lambert if it would have been acceptable to have paraded children in provacative poses, I'm not so sure he would have defended such expression. And I'm certain that if a Christian entertainer would have performed at the awards and made explicit expressions of worship, statements on the sanctity of unborn life, or statements about God making a man for a woman, he wouldn't have defended these in the name of expression.
As I proceed, please don't get me wrong. Except for the expressions of worship, I don't think the Christian entertainer in my hypothetical would be wise in going this route. I'm only pointing out that this is NOT about freedom of expression. This is about what people call "values".
With that said, I don't like to use the term values, because I feel that it is a term that has been hijacked. It is a term that people say without really thinking about what it might mean. I will therefore frame the concept differently.
One more disclaimer. I'm not one of those Christians who acts like homosexuality is underlined and highlighted in Christian teaching as the greatest sin. Furthermore, I believe in treating such people with compassion and would NEVER advocate violence or even a judgmental attitude expressed towards them.
I can't speak on the specifics of Lambert's worldview, but he obviously doesn't believe that homosexuality is immoral, nor does he seem to hold a high standard for heterosexual expressions.
On the other side, to simply object to Lambert's antics as being immoral fails to get to the heart of the issue. I believe that life has a purpose. That purpose is given by a God. That God has an intention for our relationships. Lust in any form violates that purpose. This is akin to someone desecrating a cemetery (see http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31832393/). Should such actions be defended as freedom of expression?
Why would this appall us? In the story, the employees desecrated the cemetery to free up plots so that they could resell them. They were out to make a $. This is where their "values" lie.
The reason a cemetery desecration appalls us is because inherently, we know that life has a purpose.
I'm not mad at people like Lambert. I feel sorry for them. They live the same purposeless lives we've seen Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, and others live before them. They aren't happy people because they have been willing to sacrifice purpose for their own lusts. They have exchanged the joy of life for a bed. Unfortunately, they will have to lie in it.