Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Are All Religions Created Equal?

This is the second of the two religious posts that I promised you in A Registry of Atheists?

This is sort of a reply to a post of nearly the same name by Jules Sherred. I say sort of a reply because I'm responding to the title alone, and am not responding so much to the content of the post, which basically boils down to a declaration of how all-inclusive her church is. I'm glad she's found a lovely group of like-minded people, but my analytical mind is obligated to point out that it cannot as inclusive as "all that".

First, if we assume that this statement, "all religions are created equally," means that they're all equally valid, or true, then the statement contains logical fallacies that make it incapable of being correct.

For one thing, many religions teach fundamentally different things. Some assert that you must accept the divinity of Christ to get into Heaven. Others say you cannot accept the very same thing, for the very same reason. Still others say there's no Heaven to get into. They simply cannot all be simultaneously correct. In fact, the only way for them all to be equal at all is for them all to be completely false. This includes, of course, the religion that asserts that all religions are created equally, for in order for it to be valid and true, this one religion must be as false as all the others, otherwise "all religions..." is incorrect.

So logically, the assertion is either just wrong, or, if correct, still wrong. It's not often you get to do that without bothering to discuss doctrine at all. A religion that asserts that all religions are false is basically atheism, so why not just save a step?

I personally would not argue to a Muslim that my religion is equal to his. It's a pointless exercise, in that he'd see through such a thing immediately and point out the very fallacy I just did. By asserting that all manner of contradictory things are equal is to remove any meaning whatsoever from the concept of religion. Between you and me, I think it would be more than a little cruel to do that to someone else, and I'm not willing to do it to myself.

But I am willing to do this: I assert that I have a strong conviction that my religious beliefs are correct. However, I don't know this to be factually true. Even if I thought I knew it to be factually true, I recognize that God so highly prizes Free Will that He refuses to show himself. To do so would be proof, which negates Faith, and biases our choices. I respect that your unbiased choice is important to God, and therefore I respect your right to have whatever Faith you will... even where that Faith is at odds with mine; even where that Faith is in no god at all. I am more than just willing to do this... I'm obligated to.

In return, I demand the same consideration, even if you don't agree with my faith-based reasons. There are secular reasons that are equally compelling.  The Golden Rule ("And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise." -- Luke 6:31) isn't just some superstitious religious admonition... it is the primary basis for any just and fair social contract. An atheist's attempt to silence prayer is no more "right" ... i.e., socially valid... than the forced conversions of the Inquisition. Make no mistake: The zealot who forces you to engage in his practices is a tyrant. The atheist who feigns "offense" to force you to stop your practices is likewise a tyrant. Both use excuses to force their will on others, and some even believe the outrageous lie that they do so for the good of Humanity.

Ignore them both. If you want to worship, go ahead; but don't insist that others join you. If you don't want to worship, don't; but don't insist that others stop.

This is called tolerance.

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