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Author Topic: Agnosticism on the rise in the US  (Read 8192 times)

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Offline MHaji

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #100 on: April 04, 2009, 12:59:37 AM »
I don't think this is surprising at all. The holier than thou crowd, as you call them, are probably the most vocal of the Christian faith. Being the most vocal does not make you the majority.

It's not just a matter of "vocal." The news - regardless of its political slant! - will give the biggest emphasis to the most obnoxious members of any group, because that makes viewers angry, and angry viewers are engaged viewers. It's like Internet trolling, but more pernicious. The more troll-y an adherent is, the better the chance they have of getting an answer.

Obnoxious Christians are not the majority of Christians. Obnoxious atheists are not the majority of atheists. Obnoxious agnostics are not the majority of agnostics.

The part that Nessy quotes was simply me stating that it was somewhat strange for one Christian to claim that ANOTHER Christian was crazy, when both are simply living their own interpretation of the Bible. Perhaps I wasn't clear, but it was my hope to illustrate that frankly they are equally valid, in so far as they are earnest interpretations of the same source material.

My following paragraph illustrated more candidly my confusion, in that I wondered at what point does God become redundant? The unitarian church outlined seems to approach the bible like a buffet, taking what it likes/what works, while ignoring the rest. That seems to me to be somewhat disingenuous.

Nessy suggests that it's the perception of the given adherent that sets the bar for what is good and moral. If so much relies on perception and interpretation of the individual, again, at what point does God become somewhat unneccessary?

Ironically, you're arguing like an extreme fundamentalist - "Either the Bible's right, wrong, or ambiguous. And if it's wrong or ambiguous, what's the point of having it at all? If you pick and choose what you listen to, why have it?"

Well, consider this analogy: "Different judges interpret the law differently. But if it's up to judges to interpret the law, and they can interpret it differently, why do we even need a law at all? If judges make it up as they go along, what's the point? There should either be no leeway given to judges, or no law at all! Judges can figure it out themselves!"

Different shades of legal interpretation can be reasonable, but some interpretations are deeply dubious. If a judge said that we should ignore the emancipation of slaves and push back our interpretation of civil rights to 1850 because "the new laws don't count," we'd think that judge was crazy - and we'd have every right to do so. That's an interpretation of the law so far out there that you don't need to be a lawyer to see a problem. How did we draw that line? I don't know, exactly, we just eventually worked it out.

Similarly, if a Christian says we should hate our neighbor, revel in sanctimoniousness, and torture people... you don't have to be a Christian to see this doesn't quite square with the stuff in the Sermon on the Mount, delivered by someone who died by torture. There's such a thing as leeway of interpretation, but things like the Spanish Inquisition seriously went too far. Hindsight. 20-20.

It is true that Biblical morality, alone, lacks current context. Biblical morality, alone, would not have given us free speech or a Civil Rights movement. And conservative religious morality is painfully correlated with the repression of women and minorities. But Martin Luther King, Jr. was a reverend, and it'd be foolish to think that his religion was useless to him, and all of his insights came from extrabiblical sources.

Biblical morality is ambiguous, founded on dubious historical precedents, and frequently dangerous and regressive. But interpreted carefully, it can also defend the dignity of people in an oppressive society. I'm a humanist first and an atheist second; if something improves human lives, I don't care if it's religious in origin. If something hurts people, then I'll rail against it even if it was proposed by atheists.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2009, 01:21:26 AM by MHaji »