Monday, August 31, 2009

I have already explained it but you keep making uninformed comments

Comments on the last post have made it clear that not everyone reads through my old blog posts so I will mention it again - I was raised Catholic. I went through all the motions - baptism, first communion and confirmation but (luckily) was not subjected to the common sacrament of molestation.

(That reminds me of a video by Louis CK - my blog post continues after this but for your enjoyment, I've embedded the video. )

I did not leave the Catholic Church because of some single traumatic experience I encountered while attending (the whole experience is traumatic, really). I didn't leave because I was "wronged by a church member", etc. (When I say I was Catholic, people often suggest that some non "True Christian" did something to turn me away from the church.) I'm not sure I ever really believed what was told to me, I think I (wrongly) just went along with what I was told to do at my Catholic school.

Today I don't have a dislike for the church because of my experience in the church - I am most concerned with how religion interferes with our daily lives and the quest for the reduction of human suffering. The organization is oppressive, abusive and sexist but who am I to tell another person not to let someone abuse or oppress them if that is how they choose to live their life?

When it comes to science education, medical research and law making, religion is interfering where it does not belong. For a "group" to be so focused on "love" and "helping" (something they claim) to be against the very things that reduce (end?) human suffering is hypocritical.

The Catholic Church vehemently opposes the use of condoms - especially in countries where the HIV/AIDS epidemic is claiming millions of lives. Embryonic stem cell research, despite showing the possibility for truly promising therapies and cures, is a no-no to many believers.

I spent a number of hours with a Christian who claims a strong adherence to the Christian faith who told me that anyone who is against condoms or stem cell research (even embryonic) simply lacks the education or information to make an informed decision. (He applied the same statement to religious followers who oppose the teaching of evolution.) He may be right - and that is where I take issue with religious dogma and churches in general.

Why is it, then, that so many religious people "lack the education"? I would suggest that a good number of them aren't checking sources, aren't asking questions or aren't listening to the facts. It is easily done if you surround yourself with people who, too, don't ask questions, don't check sources and willingly ignore facts. A perfect example of this is the church.

Add in a "leader" who preaches misinformation or avoids talking about the facts and you now have a group of people who are not informed. As an uninformed (or misinformed) person, they often speak (and vote) with certainty against that which they have no knowledge. And that is where they affect public policy, science education and law making.

(As a side note, I admire that people have their own opinions and I, as my wife will tell, am open to stimulating discussions (disagreements) with informed individuals. I have a deep dislike for people who speak with authority on something in which they have no knowledge (I hope my blog makes that pretty clear). Simply, be ready to support the claims you make.)


C Woods said...

Great post. I'm so tired of people asking me why I hate god. How can I hate something I don't believe exists? That would be like hating Merlin or Huck Finn. I just couldn't accept the validity of what my Protestant church & parents were telling me. It wasn't a sudden realization, but started with a little doubt around age 12. It wasn't as if I didn't try. I wanted to be just like everyone else I knew. I prayed. I read the Bible cover to cover at least 3 times. My little doubts grew into more and more doubt until, around age 19, I couldn't believe any of it anymore. And it drives me nuts when people say things like, "What's it going to hurt to believe?" as if I can turn it off and on at will, aside from the fact I don't want to be immersed in faith when there are facts floating around. Christians don't believe in Krishna. But what's it going to hurt for them to believe? Can they turn it on at will?

I agree with you ---they just don't think. They've been told some drivel and accepted it without any thought at all. I am well aware that there are some very learned people who are believers, but in my experience, most Christians know next to nothing about their own faith. Once religion is ingrained, they can't stop believing any more than I can start. So, if they want to believe, that's fine with me, as long as they don't try to impose their beliefs, not supported by facts, on the rest of us.

sarniaskeptic said...

C Woods: You clearly stated it with your final sentence. Unfortunately, their beliefs interfere with their judgment/decision making so they do end up imposing their beliefs on others.

If "believers" would only expose themselves to other ideas, things might be different.

I was in a recent discussion with a co-worker and I was explaining how "skepticism" is possibly a deviation/mutation (Ray Hyman) from the norm (ie. belief would have been necessary/normal). When my co-worker latched on to the idea, I suggested that he must then support evolutionary theory. Oddly, the conversation ended.

Science is only valuable to the believer when it supports their ideas. However, science isn't a pick-and-choose procedure, you have to take the misses with the hits.

Call me Paul said...

Barry, your experience sounds similar to mine (aside from the whole communion/confirmation thing - my parents weren't Catholic). I flirted with church on and off during my formative years. I went to Sunday school, I was a member of a Christian youth group as a young teen. As a young adult, I even attended church regularly for a while, on my own initiative (a girl was not involved). But I have to say that at no time do I ever remember actually believing in God.

Call me Paul said...

Let's pretend I didn't call you Barry just now, shall we?

sarniaskeptic said...

I've been called worse! (I'm assuming the comment was directed at me).

My parents identified as Catholic but I'm not sure that they actually were. They were sure (they thought, anyway) that Catholic schooling was better than a public school education so that might have been the reason for much of my experience in the Catholic church.

At home, we definitely did not talk about religion or read the bible (if we owned one, I never saw it) - the furthest we went was to say "grace" before dinner. (And I'm not sure my dad ever participated.) My parents were hardly in the indoctrination business, I guess.

Anonymous said...

I really like these comments. I always say there is a way to get points across without being demeaning and you all are doing just that. There is no real reason I don't believe, other than the facts. My life has been no less fruitful or damaged since I stopped believing, if anything I feel somewhat relieved. I don't have to try and come up with excuses now why not to go to church! I, like "call me Paul", wonder if I ever really did believe. Keep up the posts. They are always interesting.

sarniaskeptic said...

Crap, I didn't notice this last comment until after I posted my most recent blog entry.

The poster of the final comment (before this one) won't appreciate the last part of my blog.

I just thought it was important to make a distinction - when I suggest that I support the rights of gays, I'm often asked if maybe I'm "in the closet" or people question why I'm so "pro woman". I don't support woman's breast cancer research because I have breast cancer (or am really a woman), I do it because it is the right thing to do.

Call me Paul said...

This blog, and the very next one on the list in my feed reader have identical templates. I got confused about which one I was reading and called you by the other guy's name. Man, it doesn't seem to matter when you do that, it's always bad.