Sunday, May 19, 2013

"When religious beliefs become evil: 4 signs"

I actually do agree with a great deal of what John Blake wrote in his April 28th CNN Belief blog post
"When religious beliefs become evil: 4 signs." Does a decent job provide examples from a variety of religions. By doing so he does at least partially acknowledge all religions fit the four signs he talks about. However, even when he does imply that this can include mainstream faith/believers he does go out of his way to make it seem like such incidences are rare and therefore the Religion as a whole is not to blame. I not only strongly disagree I would point out that all 4 signs are innately a part of, if not all, most Religions. That includes the mainstream as wells as the fringe groups.

The fours signs written about are:
1. I know the truth, and you don’t.
2. Beware the charismatic leader.
3. The end is near.
4. The end justifies the means.

Even a cursory examination of these should lead to a number of potentially damning when applied to either individual religions or Religion as an institution. Which doesn't believe it has the "truth"? Even when a particular group pays lip service to tolerance you have to ask why they have chosen the specific faith they have? If they do not believe it to be better or more "truthful" why are they members? It also rather common among religions to have both a charismatic founding figure and some type of belief in the end of the world. There isn't a single religion that has not engaged in "end justifies the means." What faith has not condoned, encouraged, or commanded behaviors that outsiders find unethical or immoral? Most still do to some degree.

Writing from a culture saturated with Christianity Blake should know better. Since I grew up in this culture and have done more than my share of reading and research I can state with a great deal of confidence that Christianity as a whole fits all four. And I do mean Christianity not simply a few denominations/sects. Christians certainly believe in the "truth" of Christ. Very few are willing to concede even in the possibility that Christ is mythical and that most "Christian" teachings are either variations or repackaged elements form previous belief systems. Christ, whether mythical or not, was the epitome of a charismatic leader. His message was definitely tied into his character. According to the Gospels he routinely insisted that people give up their family and friends who were not believers in him. Also by way of the Gospels, Christ does predict the end of the world and clearly states that it would be within that generation. There are passages in which Christ justifies a number of behaviors that did not fit the message he was portraying. I have in other posts pointed out some of these bad behaviors of Christ including mass murder.

Once again, theists are pretty good at pointing out what is wrong with other people's beliefs but generally fail in applying the same criteria to themselves.

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