Religion; The Epitome of Arrogance?

15 08 2007

Before I begin I would like to say that in no way is the following meant to offend anyone who chooses to be religious. It is an individual decision, and your choice should be respected by others. Even if you are a total loony. Whatever my own views, I always respect people’s right to make their own minds up, even if they are wrong (and of course they are). Personally, I’ve always seen religion as a vehicle of hope, something weak people turn to when they need a crutch, and seen in that light, it’s not such a bad thing to have, is it? Who does not need hope in their life? Nope, sorry, can’t do it, anyone who’s religious is a nut.

Today I was idly musing about evangelists who perform “miracles” and then turn to challenge those who do not believe to explain how they are done if it’s not by divine intervention. This, in turn, got me thinking; is religion’s insistence that the existence of things that human beings cannot explain proves the existence of a god an example of extreme arrogance? It brings with it, does it not, an obvious implication that we are intelligent enough to explain most things, and thus that if we are unable to explain something, it must surely be divine. Clearly there is no room in this school of thought for the possibility that there may very well be an Earthly (i.e. non-divine) explanation that we’re just too stupid or unevolved to understand. Then again, the very concept of being “unevolved” is not very Christian, is it? And God wouldn’t create an imperfect being, would he?



6 responses

15 08 2007
Jayne dArcy

I don’t consider myself religious. I’ve done the church thing, been baptized a few times, and been told my whole family is going to hell. What I have is Faith and I think that’s a whole ‘nother horse from religion. To me, religion is ritual, rules, guidelines, all interpreted by someone who is supposed to be more in touch with “god” (lowercase on purpose) than I am.

Would God create an imperfect being? I think so. Without our flaws, our imperfections, there really isn’t anything to strive for; nothing to raise ourselves up from. That sort of god makes sense to me.

16 08 2007

“is religion’s insistence that the existence of things that human beings cannot explain proves the existence of a god an example of extreme arrogance?”

I don’t think it is an example of extreme arrogance. I don’t think that “religion” is insisting this, rather some people who claim to be religious are. I find that mildly arrogant.

The evangelist who claims to perform miracles and the “faith healer” are in a different realm than arrogance. What they do can be outright dangerous. For example, a former employer of mine (who claimed to have performed such parlor tricks) suggested that, rather than spend my money on doctors and medication, that I strengthen my “faith” and thus be cured. I feel that, in this case, he had good intent but his belief was driven by ego. Many people of this ilk that I have come across are pursuing financial gain. I’m not sure that those that are doing business in the name of the Lord are worse than those who are building their egos. If a person stops taking medicine because of “faith” in either, the result is the same.

As for extreme arrogance, I see this trait in those that proselytize. I used to think that this was unique to Christians, particularly Evangelicals who feel it is their duty to “witness” and convert or recruit. Ironically, I seem to be running into a number of Atheists who are of the opinion that everyone should think as they do. How does this differ?

“Personally, I’ve always seen religion as a vehicle of hope, something weak people turn to when they need a crutch,”

Why would hope or faith for that matter be confined to religion? If someone does not believe in a deity, is there nothing to hope for, nothing to have faith in?

16 08 2007

You know, your starting to sound a lot like me…

16 08 2007
Mr President

Ooh goody, comments. Clearly I’ve done my work well.

Jayne: I concur. God would, I believe, create imperfect beings, but this doesn’t tie in with the idea that things we cannot explain necessarily prove the existence of a god. Let me be clear, I’m agnostic, not atheist, I think it’s extreme arrogance to deny the existence of a god just as much as it is to insist on it.

The plain truth is, we simply don’t know, nor can we ever know, in mortal life at least. If there is an afterlife and if it proves to be true that God exists, then great, I’ve lead my life well, I believe, and been moral always.

Pribek: See, that I think is where we differ. I DO think it’s religion that insists that, those who claim to be religious ARE, for intents and purposes, organised religion.

Like Jayne I do see a difference between faith and religion, and I see religion as organised obedience to a set of instructions that quite frankly don’t represent “God”, if there is one, but rather the beliefs of a small oligarchy of people who insist that their view of God is all that counts.

No, I don’t think Atheists who attempt to proselytize are any less culpable than Christians (or Muslims, or Sikhs, or any other faith for that matter) who attempt to do so. As I’ve said before, I’m agnostic, because I believe either faith of atheism are both forms of blind faith, or, as I’m beginning to believe now, extreme forms of arrogance.

Quite frankly we’re human beings, we’re stupid, we can’t possibly claim to be able to understand everything and something as complex as “God” or the universe is far beyond our meagre intellect.

Kip: I take that as a good sign. Whilst you speak from the left wing, and I don’t always agree with you, I think we agree when it comes to the Christian right-wing in the US, and I gather that our views on religion, especially as it relates to politics, are very similiar.

16 08 2007

Clearly there is no room in your school of thought for the possibility that there may very well be a Divine (i.e. unearthly) explanation that we’re just too stupid or unenlightened to understand. Then again, the very concept of being “enlightened” is not very worldly, is it? And God wouldn’t create a perfect being, would he?

17 08 2007
Mr President

As a regular reader Dan, you should know me better than that.

Please don’t assume or put words in my mouth. There’s plenty of room in my school of thought for just that, I was highlighting the fact that some people don’t accept that if we can’t explain something, it actually neither proves nor disproves the existence of God. I never denied the possibility of a Divine explanation, in fact I very much accept the POSSIBILITY of one, I simply resent the insistence that it is the ONLY one.

I believe that we’re just too stupid and unenlightened to understand everything, and this brings with it the possibility that God may indeed exist, or may indeed not. To claim to know either way is, I think, incredibly arrogant. Sorry to be a pedant but “enlightened” is by its nature a worldly term, not a divine one. Buddhist doctrine is worldly, not divine.

And God might create a perfect being. I simply said human beings aren’t perfect. The funny thing is, religion accepts that human beings aren’t perfect (since they are capable of sin) whilst claiming that anything we can’t explain must NECESSARILY prove the existence of God.

Let me also take this opportunity to point out that the article was intentionally written in an inflamatory way (because I feel I’ve been going soft recently, as I said in Tuesday’s post) and designed to be controversial in order to provoke discussion. To which end it worked.

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