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NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Doubt Increases Belief
Article ID: 13786
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Fire Lyte
Posted: April 25th. 2010
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I just finished the movie ĎReligulousí by Bill Maher, and I realized the guy has a point. Religion of any kind is illogical. It is. Think about it. Take any religion and break it down to its most basic premise; Iíll do the first one for you. (Yes, itís probably the one youíd jump to first, too.)
Christianity: A guy who is also his son and a third thing thatís genderless got a girl pregnant without touching her and wants you to telepathically acknowledge his three-in-oneness so that you can join him in the sky when he blows everything up at the end of time. Which might be tomorrow.
Yeah, itís easy, and itís the first religion that everybody goes to. There are a lot of holes in Christianity, and most of them come from the disparity between the different books of the Bible and the sermons preached from modern day pulpits. Sin. Wrong-doing. Morality. The modern Christian church in America (and I want to specify America, as Christianity doesnít have the hold on the rest of the world that it has here) has a monopoly, seemingly, on telling people how awful they are. Itís so easy to make fun of these beliefs, because thanks to recent interest by Hollywood and the publishing world, we all know about the aforementioned holes.
But, what about other religions? Letís cut to the chase and talk about Paganism. Or, is that paganism?
Paganism: A bunch of people who donít want to consider themselves part of anything that canít decide what exactly they believe, but theyíre pretty sure it has something to do with magic and multiple deities, unless you donít think it has anything to do with magic and deities, then it has a lot to do with sitting in a bookstore arguing about why your beliefs are right and Christianity Ė specifically Ė is bad, while simultaneously arguing how youíre 100% accepting of everyoneÖ WaitÖarenít we supposed to be worshipping something?
Yep, pagans, there are tons of holes in our own Ďreligion.í They begin from the fact that nobody really knows, or can categorically define, paganism. Who are the Gods/Goddesses we believe in? Why canít we agree on them? What about the Goddess, is she better than the God? And the list goes onÖand onÖand onÖ
Iím an academic. Iím not a philosopher, and though I made Aís in all my Philosophy courses in school, I cannot possibly consider myself a true philosopher. Iím a social scientist. I study the human condition, specifically what happens when we do harm to one another. Iím what philosophers would call a naÔve realist. A naÔve realist is someone who completely accepts that the world is real, that it does not require perception to be real, and that it would be real whether or not I thought it was real. To me, that is a leap of faith in and of itself. I donít question the realness of the bullet; I just know I donít want it to hit me.
I know doubt on an intimate level. I question everything: motives, definitions, reasoning, thought patterns, what I read, what I see, and most especially what I hear out of peopleís mouths. Iím the first to encourage pagans to call one another out on their claims of superpowers and claiming ridiculous titles like High Mugwump Magus of the 7th Seely Court Ė or whatever your particular World of Warcraft guild calls you. So, why, then would I ever talk about having faith? And how is the acceptance of reality a leap of faith?
Second question first: itís a leap of faith because itís much easier to continue questioning everything, but at some point you have to stop and say, ďThis is where I shall beginning leaning on faith.Ē The point where you decide that to not believe is more ridiculous than believing, thatís where you begin to have faith. I believe firmly in gravity, because not believing is ridiculous. Thatís something real and measurable. Itís easy to believe in gravity, and you have to start somewhere.
But letís jump to the big questions. God (dess) . Any God (dess) . How in the hell do you believe in a divine force that you canít go visit in person or smell when they havenít showered in a while, who can do anything and be anybody, and who made absolutely everything but canít seem to get rid of things like disease, natural disasters, hunger, rape, gang violence, or gravity. (Hey, Iíd like to flyÖ Leave me alone.)
For some this is answered by simply not believing. Itís really easy to not believe, because there are so many holes in a belief in God (dess) . For others, it might start with one little thing: a request, a wish, a need, something that came true. Sometimes itís a faith placed in deity, because it makes more sense than the randomness that mere science seems to suggest.
Atheism: A whole bunch of absolutely nothing suddenly exploded and rearranged its former nothingness into everything by beating the absurdly mountainous odds against it and transformed into self-replicating molecules that suddenly became stuff. And nobody else had anything to do with it whatsoever. YepÖtotally random.
The funny thing is that everybody has a leap of faith about something. I believe that I will be safe and the other cars are going to stop when the light turns red. I believe that my locked door will deter burglars. NaÔve, yes, but itís real, itís measurable, itís trustworthy.
My doubt reinforces my faith. The more questions I ask, the more I find that while dogma might be utter crap, the idea of God (dess) , the notion of magical and mental power, and the sacredness of nature makes sense. It makes more sense to me to believe in these things than to not, and itís because of my doubt and constant questioning that my faith is constantly becoming even stronger.
Why are things done the way they are? Why do certain individuals not provide complete answers? How were things made? How come science leans on the statistical randomness of things? And, again, these questions go on and on and on.
Itís easy to pick apart a particular faith, a set of beliefs and dogmas. Itís unbelievably easy to pick apart religion, because with religion comes things we must consider hard truths. If youíre a Wiccan, then you absolutely believe there are only two deities. Once you make a claim like that about something you cannot prove, youíre allowing the opportunity for others to pick it apart.
When you legislate morality through religion Ė as is apparent in many of the worldís major religions Ė youíre setting yourself up for failure, because at the end of the day you cannot answer why something is wrong. Because, when a religion tells you what is right and what is wrong, the best answer you can respond to the question of ĎWhy?í is, ďBecause thatís what God (dess) said.Ē Thatís not an answer.
However, at some point, thereís an acceptance of faith. Itís because of those ĎWhy?í questions that we either do or do not become believers, but I firmly believe that a healthy amount of doubt is required before we can commit to believing in anything.
Copyright: (c) 2010 Fire Lyte - Inciting A Riot
Location: Chicago, Illinois
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