My blog contains a large number of posts. A few are included in various other publications, or as attached stories and chronicles in my emails; many more are found on loose leaves, while some are written carelessly in margins and blank spaces of my notebooks. Of the last sort most are nonsense, now often unintelligible even when legible, or half-remembered fragments. Enjoy responsibly.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Entry for November 20, 2006

I’m in the process of reading Richard Dawkins new book The God Delusion, and he developed the classic Bertrand Russell Teapot (or the Celestial Teapot) a bit further:

If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.

The reason organized religion merits outright hostility is that, unlike belief in Russell's teapot, religion is powerful, influential, tax-exempt and systematically passed on to children too young to defend themselves. Children are not compelled to spend their formative years memorizing loony books about teapots. Government-subsidized schools don't exclude children whose parents prefer the wrong shape of teapot. Teapot-believers don't stone teapot-unbelievers, teapot-apostates, teapot-heretics and teapot-blasphemers to death. Mothers don't warn their sons off marrying teapot-shiksas whose parents believe in three teapots rather than one. People who put the milk in first don't kneecap those who put the tea in first.

It’s odd that certain long held understandings have moved back and forth from mythology for so long without an open discussion as to both the viability and sustainability of most organized religions. I believe that it was Joseph Campbell that once said, “every religion is true one way or another. It is true when understood metaphorically. But when it gets stuck in its own metaphors, interpreting them as facts, then you are in trouble”.

As our worlds religions fight back against scientific advances with a call for intellectually laziness and apathy towards questioning of the unknown, I wonder if we are to keep reliving the same dark ages and renaissances of our previous generations. With each major advancement in knowledge evolution the major religions are reorganized to suit the needs of keeping people in check – but at some point will that no longer be necessary? Do you believe that we will outgrow our need for religion as a intellectual thought becomes harder and harder to subvert – or will organized religions always evolve to keep pace?

1 comment:

Seven Star Hand said...

Hello Brian,

Here's my two bits on this intractable debate. Hope you and others can appreciate my efforts to provide a key to a true solution for humanity's seemingly never-ending cycle of struggle and despair.

Analyzing the Creator Debate

Did you ever consider that atheism arose because certain people saw that religious characterizations about the nature of an omnipotent "God" were seriously flawed and then concluded that religion and the Creator were the same things? This is the exact same conclusion at the base of religious beliefs; namely that the Creator and religion are inseparable. Consequently, both atheists and religious followers are arguing over a flawed assumption without considering that other possibilities negate the common core conclusion of both groups. These arguments are actually over religion and whether it represents a reliable model of reality. The answer to this question is of course not. Religion is not only flawed, it is purposely deceptive! Though atheists are certainly sincere in their conclusions, the fact remains that they and religious followers are locked in a debate that cannot be won by either side because both base their positions upon whether the same flawed premise is the truth. In order for this debate to conclude with a truthful answer, a greater level of discernment is required.

One apt clarifying question is, if someone tells lies about you, does that negate you or make you a liar or a lie? Certainly, the image cast about you would be a false one, but that is their image, not the real you. Consequently, faulty religious assertions about the Creator of this universe do not negate the existence of a Creator. Considering the possibility that this universe is not by chance leaves the door open to how it arose, which leads us to seek what could have created and maintained it. Since neither religion nor science has yet adequately answered this question, it is safe to conclude that those who argue about the Creator based on either are most certainly wrong about one or more aspects. Therefore, another point of view and additional knowledge are required.