Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sucked In By Religion

One big fear people have when it comes to religion is being sucked in. Why not? There are many false religions. There are many smart people in those religions. So it happens. But smart people get trapped in bad sexual relationships. They get taken in by greed. They get addicted to alcohol and drugs. Yet people don't respond by avoiding sex, money, parties, etc. They realize there are dangers but you have to live your life. So you exercise due caution and proceed. With religion it is different. People think the most reasonable course is to avoid it altogether.

Of course you can't. Religion is just about answering the big questions in life. GK Chesterton talked about philosophy as thinking that is thought all the way through. It is a pain to do this but the alternative is to not think things through. With religion you can do that. You can refuse to think about the really big questions in life. It is cowardly and irrational but you can do it.

The trouble is those questions do force their way onto the stage at some point. Often you are not ready for them because it happens at the moment of great crisis. A loved one has just died. You have just seen your life's dream crash. Whatever it is. That is when you notice your world and life view is missing in action. That is precisely when you are most likely to get sucked into bad religion. You are emotionally needy and you are not going to be able to think straight. It is really not the best time to be making big life choices but that is often when they get made.

The good news is that most people who make religious commitments under such circumstances end up in a pretty good religion. Some end up in cults or radical groups but most are picked up by an aggressively-evangelizing protestant church. Theology won't be their strong suit but they likely get a lot of things right.

What happens next? Not a lot. They typically either stay where they are at and embrace the tradition that brought them to the faith or they stop going to church entirely.  Very few of them do any serious reading and try and find which Christian church has doctrine that makes more sense than the others. Even if they are in a church that makes up a very small fraction of Christendom.

Suppose you are sick and look for a doctor. But the first doctor you run into is a Sioux Indian medicine man. Would it make sense to judge all medicine by this one medicine man and other medicine men he introduces you to? That would be nuts. You need to go to a mainstream doctor. Even if the medicine man tells you main steam doctors are no good. But this is what people do with Christianity. They judge Christianity based on one particular tradition. They either embrace that tradition or reject all of Christendom. Even when that tradition might be just a few decades old and amount to a trivial fraction of all Christians.

For someone to reject Christianity without seriously investigating Catholicism should be quite strange. Like writing off all smart phones without investigating the iPhone. One could do it but you would not expect many to do it. Somehow it is common for protestant Christians. As a protestant I didn't know anyone who ever read anything serious by a Catholic on why he is Catholic. It is just never seriously addressed.

The bottom line is if people took a more rational approach to religion there would be more Catholics. We could avoid this scenario that starts with fear and later is driven by despair. Instead one could read the best representatives of all the major religious schools of thought. It is not really obvious who that would be but to make a serious attempt at it is not that hard. You can start by asking a member of that faith who you respect for something that describes his religion well. It is exceedingly rare. Most people only consider religious arguments they happen to stumble into.

I wish I could say I had been more rational in my faith journey. I really wasn't. That is why I didn't become Catholic until I was 40. For a long time I just accepted the reformed tradition I was raised with. I thought I was being perfectly rational. I wasn't. I trusted the people I knew because I knew them. Even after I discovered other Christian traditions had impressive Christians in them as well it still took a long time for me to really question whether the reformed tradition was even close to the truth.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting - but.... Catholicism is the Johnny-come-lately in Christianity. The Popes are in reality figureheads supported by an intense series of myths, and it is only in understanding these myths that the complete error of Roman Catholicism becomes apparent.
    Note 1. Constantine's mother was the daughter of Brychan Brycheiniog (Brychan ap Brecon), the Christian king of one of the British kingdoms.
    Point 1. Britain was Christian before Constantine, and hence before there was such a thing as a pope.
    Note 2. King LLeirwg declared all Britain for Christ in 156 A.D.
    Point 2. Britain had already been Christian a long time.
    Note 3. The oldest known Christian construction is a beehive hermitage near Llan yr Angel Aber Cowyn. This dates from approximately 38 A.D.
    Point 3. Christianity had a presence in Britain just after the Crucifixion.
    Note 4. Constantine was a pagan, who was converted by his mother. However, he refused to let go of most of the Roman pagan festivals and practices. Instead he incorporated them into his new ersatz form of "Christianity".
    Point 4. Roman Catholicism is predicated substantially on pagan rites and beliefs.
    Among the pagan rituals Constantine introduced was:
    1) the doctrine of the trinity: this came from several pagan sources, for example the worship of Mithras and also from Isis Osiris and Horus.
    2) Walking around the outside of the Church on Easter Sunday morning: this is worship of the pagan god Baal.
    3) Christmas: Yeshua ben Yusef (or bin Miryam) was born in 4 B.C. in September, but the pagan rites of winter sacrifice to make the crops grow again had to be retained, so the date was moved to nearer midwinter.
    4) Yeshua ben Yusef was crucified on a Wednesday, on the eve of the high Sabbath, on the 14th of Nisan. Hence the prophesy is true, since from Wednesday to Saturday is three days. From Wednesday to Saturday is a day and a half. Three days He was in the Tomb, but the entire concept of Easter had to be altered to fit in with pagan rites of Spring.
    5) the doctrine of Transubstantiation was invented at Nicaea. It is completely without Biblical foundation and was intended to provide a mystical bond. Equally the concept of the sacrament of the communion is a fallacy, built upon the same demands of mysticism. All that Yeshua did was to say 'every time you sit down to eat, remember me – raise your glasses to my memory' - the rest is made up.
    6) nowhere in the Bible is Miryam described as a virgin. She is called a young woman: sometimes translated as a maiden – having the same sense in english as young woman. Furthermore, Yeshua was by no means her only child, and yet romanism expects to change every aspect of reality to fit its concept of a mysterious myth led religion.
    7) most of the books of the New Testament were ignored or destroyed because they did not fit with Constantine's concept of the new religion which he was creating.
    8) Peter could not have laid his hands on the next Pope – because there wasn’t one for more than 300 years. Furthermore, there has never been a ‘single line of succession’ of popes until relatively modern times. There have been three female popes, and during one period, there were five popes claiming the title at the same time.
    9) finally, the Coptic Church is both older and truer to primitive Christianity than Rome.

    So now tell me - from where does the much vaunted "authority" of the Roman church come?
    It is a complete fake: a botch up of everything Constantine decided was a good way of not offending any of Rome’s old pantheon. The Augustine mission to Britain was to achieve agreement with this much older Church, and every new Pope upon his accession used to acknowledge the seniority of the British Church. [NOT, you will note, the Church of England which is even newer than the papists.]