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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Not A Desirable Quality

Is having faith in, or blindly believing in religious doctrine, or in a God, a desirable quality. In other words, is it virtuous? Believers think it is. First, however, let’s look at what the word virtue mean. There are four senses in which the word virtue is used.
  • The quality of doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong
  • Any admirable quality or attribute
  • Morality with respect to sexual relations
  • A particular moral excellence
The sense that is most important to us here is the second, an admirable quality or attribute. However, let’s take a look back at the first sense, and, for argument sake, let’s assume that to believe in a God, in religious doctrine and teachings is avoiding the wrong thing and doing the right. Most Christians, for example, will certainly say this is the right thing to do, for the Psalmist David said that “Only fools say in their hearts, "There is no God." They are corrupt, and their actions are evil; not one of them does good!” (Psalm 14:1, NLT). Who what’s to be in that bracket? Not you, right!
But is what David said really true? I am not addressing whether it is true that to be a nonbeliever means one is automatically corrupt and evil. This, of course, is ridiculously absurd. Being an evil and corrupt person is beyond belief, culture and creed. Corrupt, evil people can be found wherever one looks. What I am addressing, however, is whether religious belief as far as believing without question is an admirable quality or attribute. Many or most believers, knowingly or not, believe it is.
If we go back to the Psalmist’s statement, we see he is saying to disbelieve must be from the heart. Why did he make such a statement? Because, and, as most theologians interprets this quote, the evidence for God is so pervasive, meaning that it is “all around us”, thus, it is incomprehensibly impossible to think someone can possible not see God’s presence. Therefore, the nonbelievers must have motivated themselves to disbelief.  This again, of course, is a nonsensical position. The nonbeliever did not choose to be a nonbeliever; he or she, except people that do not accept Christian doctrine because they are from another culture, comes to their unbelief because of careful examination of the believers’ claims. Can this be said of most or all of believers? Did believers examine facts or claims before their assent to believe or fate? Of course not! Faith, after all, is an attitude of trust, a commitment to accept without investigating. Faith and belief come from the authority of revelation, the holy book and certainly from those who interoperate it for you. In fact, if not for the  indoctrinations during childhood, most believers assent to their faith and belief is mostly base on fair; fair of condemnation to a ‘pit of fire’, in particular, and they in turn argue that none should question God, or, in other words, none should question the priest, pastors, etc. on the merits of their claims. For doing so is to blaspheme God, to ‘miss the mark’ (that’s the meaning of sin).
Not questioning the teachings and dogmas has been a part of Christian theology for ages and is still promoted today. Questioning has always been equated with the “Devil”; one is accused of being possessed by the “Devil” whenever engaged in questioning the faithful and those who claim to be called by or in direct contact with God. In fact, even if one asks a question and, as a result of inquiry, becomes a believer, he or she is still seen as being less virtuous because his or her assent to belief or faith should not be based on finding evidence or examining the facts. This is seen as being forced to accept. You did not voluntarily believe. To believers, this is not very admirable. Here you come to your belief based on evidence and rationality, and that should not be. You should just accept what you’ve been told or read in the sacred text (Bible, Qur’aan, Torah, etc). This view was put forth by people like Thomas Aquinas, for example. Aquinas argue that reveled doctrine, which he called science, is genuine science – even if it is not base on natural experience or reason – because it come from the ultimate source, God. Of course one must have already accepted God to hold such view. Indeed, believers, as Thomas Aquinas, elevate faith above reason. And, as a result, view Christian belief or Christian faith, for example, as admirable and morally superior because it is based in neither evidence nor reason but on the love of God. This is, they say, the virtuous thing to do. No kidding?!
On the contrary, as I conclude, let me say this, and anyone with half a brain will certainly concur, I believe, the opposite make better sense. To question, to investigate, to use reason, to be rational are all desirable qualities. Where as to accept anything as truth without scrutinizing its credibility and finding evidence for or against it, is not a desirable quality for anyone or anything. It is certainly unintelligent of anyone to accept without questioning, just because some individual dressed up in, what appears to be female clothing (long dresses), funny decorated hats (priests), etc., tells you they are “in-tune” with or “chosen” by some unseen deity in the sky. To do this is not a virtue; it’s firstclass stupidity.

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