Sunday, December 28, 2014

Facebook Faith #44: If That Isn't Relativism, I Don't Know What Is

I have been in a Facebook discussion for the past day with a religious friend. During the conversation, he put forth that religious folks have superior moral codes because they have an objective standard of right and wrong given to them in their holy texts. Atheism, he said, was relativistic - using the word in the pejorative sense.

I noted that holy texts are often pretty shoddy when it comes to morality, and in any case are not needed to develop a moral standard. Also, such outsourcing of moral engagement can lead to an atrophying of one's moral muscles.

I then addressed the concern of relativism. I am parking this here for cutting and pasting purposes since this argument comes up.... a lot:
Relativism is relative. If you are saying my moral code is still being refined... yes, guilty as charged. If you are saying I am wishy washy... no, not at all.
In fact, though I don't try to shove religionists noses in it... I submit that it is they that lack sufficient moral grounding. For them, wrong is not always wrong... go back to slavery. Is it wrong? Most religious folks would say yes. So then, the Judeo-Christian god was wrong when he sanctioned it??
Errrr... ummmm... well, ya see.....
Is rape wrong? Sure it is! So then, the Judeo-Christian god was wrong when he told the Israeli soldiers they could rape young captured girls, right??
Errrr... ummmm... well, ya see.....
How bout genocide? Stealing? Extortion? Infanticide? Killing new brides??.... we could spend all day generating the list... All wrong, right? These should all be fairly clear to even someone with an adolescent moral code.
But the believer will often get into an apologetic two-step because they have to come up with a way to keep the Deity innocent, instead of just calling wrong, wrong.
If that isn't relativism... I don't know what is. 
Actually though, I am glad when believers get uncomfortable and want to play a game of theological twister... it at least shows they have a problem with it. I talked with a believer last night who said he had NO PROBLEM with any of it... his god could do WHATEVER he wants.
Brrrrrrr.... I'll take the relativist over that dude any day.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Facebook Faith #43 Feelings and Coincidence

"I know I have relationship with God because there are too many things that I can't explain as random in my life. I will often pray and get a different answer to what I was thinking. I can go on, but the point is I feel God in my life."

This was an explanation I saw given on a friend's FB page this afternoon. There is rarely a time when discussing faith with a believer, that it does not come down to feelings and coincidences. They may start by trying to offer proofs, or rational arguments; but it soon becomes clear that those approaches only work when discussing faith with other believers. The pokes and prods of the skeptical tend to clear those away without much effort.

What the believer is left with is some variant of the above. Their faith is founded on feelings they have, or a litany of too good to be chance circumstances. I understand. As an Evangelical, I had those too.

And again, if you stay within in your faith circle, that will probably be enough. However, once you look over the fence, once you examine life outside your tribe, you discover every other faith rests on those items as well. The pagan, the Mormon, the Catholic, the JW, the Calvinist, the Universalist, the Jew, the Muslim, etc... They can all point to times when their deity met them in some transcendent moment, when circumstances were too perfect, when Heaven touched Earth.

One of the things that started my walk away from belief was a recognition that these divine moments were not unique to my faith. That which should have been exclusive to my "correct" belief, was being experienced across faith lines.

Coming to that realization was a little like finding "The Great and Powerful Oz" was really just that man behind the curtain. Booming voices and balls of fire lose their wonder after that.

However, what replaced the wonder of spiritual experience was an awe of the natural world and the wonderful souls around me. I discovered that man behind the curtain is a layered individual who is worth getting to know. It turns out that reality is much more satisfying than smoke and mirrors.

The universe is huge and old - and rare things happen all the time.
Lawrence Krauss –  A Universe From Nothing
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