Monday, October 04, 2010

Organized Religion

If I were the devil, the first thing I’d do
(I’d be subtle, and not too apparent)
Is create holy writings that all disagree
And announce that each one is inerrant.

So I have had a couple of visits from JWs recently. They have given me literature to read (this, and this, for those who want to play along with the home version of the game), and I asked them if they had ever read The Origin of Species. They had not, of course--I asked them to do so before they visited again. The pamphlets they gave me are wonderful propaganda--cherry-picked quotes, selectively edited, out of context... and Behe mentioned as a microbiologist rather than as a creationist (yeah, I know, but which is the more accurate description?)!

But that is not my point today. My point was, when I mentioned Origin, one of them mumbled "that's just a book". Which, of course, is true, and which is the whole point. I could have pointed him to tens of thousands of journal articles, other books, websites, magazines, etc., and he could point me to... another "just a book", bound in black leather, clutched in his hand.

His book claims inerrancy. His book claims to be more than a book. Mine does not. He is desperate to prove his book completely and utterly, literally 100% true. Me, not so much. Disproving bits and pieces of my view brings us closer to the truth. Disproving one sentence of his brings his whole house of cards down around him.

This requirement of absolute inerrancy seems to me the perfect seed for discord. If I were the devil, I would be hard pressed to find a simpler, more elegant way to incite humans to war with one another than to do what organized religion has already done.


Artificial Selection said...

Excellent post! :D

Anonymous said...

If you didn't already have a beloved Cuttlewife and Cuttlekids, I'd insist on marrying you!

Rhacodactylus said...

If I were the devil, Pina Coladas for everyone! Come to think of it, I'd be a slightly ineffectual devil =)

Well, and the willingness to accept errancy is the biggest strength of science. Theologians are constantly trying to spin science's adjustment to new data as proof that it is fallible, and thus in some way unimportant, when the opposite is true. It's the world views that refuse to adjust and grow, and refuse to admit mistakes that tend to fall by the wayside.


Thinker said...

If I were the devil, the next thing I’d do
(as if the first wasn’t sufficient)
is to claim god is always benevolent
and almighty, as well as omniscient.

Cuttlefish said...

Ooh, well played, Thinker!

If I were the devil, the third thing I'd do
(when the first two had ceased to delight)
Is to find two opponents, with two different views,
And privately tell each: "you're right".

Rhaco, I suspect you'd be a more popular devil than I would be. ArtSel, thanks! Morriganscrow... *sigh* maybe some day I can just steal a hug. (wait... damned anonymity!)

Ring Tailed Lemurian said...

This is not the place to post my first piece of post-teen doggerel, but, what the heck.

If I were the devil, the fourth thing I'd do
(because I'd be evil and love to start wars)
is to find a tribe near some inhabited land
and tell them "It's holy to me, and it's yours".

Thinker said...

If I were the devil, the fifth thing I’d do
(after four, I’m becoming quite nimble)
is to tell one group “Here, eat the meat of God’s Son”
and another “The wafer’s a symbol”.

Hey, this is fun!