The Dilemma of the Religious Moderate

26 11 2007

Religious moderation is nothing more than a bastardization of religion.  It is religion that accepts that it is not infallible (which creates quite the paradox).  It is religious zeal that has been beaten down by secular advancements.  Every time science learns something new about the function of the universe, the religious have one less thing to call their own – with every move toward social progressiveness, those so called religious moderates concede more and more to the secular forces.  This is why few Christians stone adulterers, rape strangers, or keep slaves (as their Bible instructs them to do).  It is not because their Bible stories have changed, but because the secular social movement has made them see how awful these things actually are.  As social morals develop it is interesting how more and more stories from the bible are shoved out of the realm of reality and to the realm of metaphor.  (Is the metaphor of stoning adulterers any better than the act?)

And so what do we do with these so called ‘religious moderates’?  People who by their very beliefs demonstrate the fallibility of their doctrine.  These are the people that make it just that much harder to speak out against the amorality of faith.  We can’t blame religion for the Israeli/Palestinian conflict because there are both ‘good’ Jews and ‘good’ Muslims in the world – and we don’t want to upset them.  We can’t admonish the evangelical Christian movement in this country for teaching abstinence only (who knows how many have died from sexually transmitted diseases simply because their church taught them that condoms were evil?), because there are ‘good’ Christians that we don’t want to offend. 

It is hard not to offend when the basis of the liberal Protestant’s faith comes from the exact same place as the orthodox Catholic’s, Jew’s, or Pat Robertson’s.  At best, faith of the religious moderate is simply unnecessary.  At worst, it is paving the way for more violence done in the name of religion. 

The plummet this country has taken into the depths of Christian evangelicalism has had devastating consequences.  These people are walking proof that if you’re willing to believe that a man two thousand years ago was born of a virgin, than you’re capable of believing anything.  Precious resources, namely time and money, are wasted by school districts in order that their science teachers can continue to teach science.  Critical research for many chronic and life threatening diseases has stagnated because some people are worried about the ‘soul’ of a ball of ten cells.

So where did this madness originate?  You guessed it – the Bible.  The same book that millions of so called ‘religious moderates’ look to for answers.  It seems to me the very definition of a slippery slope. 

And why does it persist thus?  Not because a deep voice has rumbled from the sky and made its presence known, but because people are scared to open their minds to the possibility that there isn’t anyone looking out for them.  Religion has had such an infantilizing effect on individuals and on societies that we now seek out this authority figure, even when there is absolutely no evidence, and no need – for one to be there.  This self-sustaining loop is not easily broken, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be. 

It has been proven again and again that morality does not spring from religion.  People praise Jesus as a moral teacher when in reality he was a wandering lunatic (which one can see when one reads his parables – either he was insane or we have lost so much of his original words that what we are left with is for the most part unintelligible). 

With so many religious zealots surrounding us many people have taken up Pascal’s Wager – all these people can’t be wrong, so better believe just in case.  But what kind of god would choose dishonest faith over honest ambivalence?  If everything we have we owe to him, surely he did not give us ‘reason’ and expect us to not use it.

The mutilation of babies, the rape of foreign culture, and the shaming of millions of people are all atrocities perpetrated by moderates.  Rabbis, missionaries, and priests respectively commit these sins in the name of their god and dare to take on the ‘holier than thou’ attitude.

People are so deluded as to be incapable of seeing the countless injustices done around them in the name of their faith.  Faith, even for the most moderate Christian, is nothing more than an exercise in guilt – an exercise that permanently scars the psyche of any individual unfortunate enough to have experienced it.

Feeling guilty about this and guilty about that, regardless of how arbitrary the crime might be, is surely not only an amoral way to lead your life, but a destructive one.  It goes to show you just how far mankind will go – invent a god just to feel inferior.

Our nation’s political correctness about religious matters has overstepped its bounds.  There is no belief that anyone holds that you need to respect, unless it is their faith.  This social commonality exposes how weak faith actually is, that it needs special protection. 

Our religious tolerance has grown beyond the historical religions, and has plunged even further into fantasy and delusion.  A Mormon is running for president of the United States – a man whose world view is so self centered that he thinks the second coming will happen in his backyard.  Scientology is growing larger and larger with some of the most well known movie stars among its ranks.  Any critical look at it reveals it as nothing more than a cult – even an uncritical look sees that it is just plain lunacy.

But who are we to judge lunacy, when even our moderates believe in the reality of immaculate conception, transubstantiation, and ascension? 

If you don’t accept all science, you shouldn’t accept any science.  Science is fluid and pure insomuch as it is a search for truth.  For religious peoples with any amount of devoutness the truth has already been written and now they are having the problem of making science fit within it.  That’s not science.

The scientific method, logic, and reason are perhaps the crowning achievements of our species.  So why do we tolerate those who actively work against these achievements?  Why do otherwise rational people ignore rationality in one specific aspect of their life?  The beauty of reason is that it is all inclusive, so why suspend it for religion?  What is the advantage of believing in miracles?  There are plenty of natural occurrences that are capable of inspiring just as much awe and wonder – and that actually happen – so why invent the fantastic?

People do have an inclination towards tradition – it makes us feel connected with those that came before us.  But there are countless forms tradition may take – most of which don’t have such a bloody history. 

It is natural for us to imagine a reward for a life well lived, but as rational beings it is natural for us to not expect it.  I find that most so called religious moderation stems from people not wanting to accept that just because they want something to be true doesn’t mean it is.

People desperately want these things to be true – they want an authority figure to pay attention and reward them for their good deeds – they want it so desperately in fact, that they’re willing to suspend logic and reason so that they can believe it.

Religion is indeed, in the words of Freud, the opiate of the masses.  It infantilizes people – gives them a sense of security – that there is someone out there watching out for them, loving them, and waiting to reward them.  They desire this feeling so much that they then invent reasons why bad things happen, despite their ‘protector’. 

As one matures one stops depending on one’s parents and learns that one is capable of taking care of oneself.  And so here I welcome all peoples of faith to simply grow up.




4 responses

7 04 2010
Carl Evans

I realise that this is an old post but it really is excellent.

18 10 2010

It’s such an inspiring feeling to know that all of the thoughts and frustrations i have had about religion, are felt by others. In the words of the great Christopher Hitchens “This belief in a supreme and unalterable tyranny is the oldest enemy of our species, the oldest enemy of our intellectual freedom and moral autonomy, and must be met, and must be challenged, and must be overthrown”

It’s time for the human race to move forward. It’s time to stand together, gather courage and leave religion behind us. Only then will our species achieve what we are truly capable of.

19 07 2011
The religious moderate « Allallt on Religion

[…] Leave a comment What is a religious moderate? Moderate religion is defined by the merging of theistic belief with rationale and reason. Although it is the only way to make religion intellectually acceptable, it seems like such hypocrisy. It also opens itself up to quite a dilemma. […]

12 02 2012

Christianity does not teach that condoms are evil. It teaches that adultery is evil. Moreover, I believe you do not have proof that Jesus is a lunatic. All of the things He said in the Bible is true. Can you state even one statement that is not true? God bless you, and I truly hope He can work miracles in you.

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