Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Logical Fallacy of the Modern Christian Idea of Belief

First off, Modern Christians have become rather overzealous about using the word "belief" in a very modern, scientific way. The word "belief" originates from a word that formerly meant "to love, to hold dear to." Believing in Jesus in that sense was something far more transformative, and humble. When Puritans talked about the imperative of loving Jesus with your heart, rather than your mind, they shockingly adhered to the sense of the word that has become lost to the minds of modern Christians who uphold the newer sense of the word; a far more arrogant form that forces one to stoically depend upon the cognitive limitations of their mind alone.  Of course, the Puritans were the progenitors of the Calvinistic obsession with the punitive God that still continues to make Christians neurotically obsessed with the nature of their own "salvation." As evidenced by many of Natheniel Hawthorne's stories, the "Calvinistic" infection made people quarrelsome and stupidly secretarian. More than ever, some modern Christians preach hearsay about a mind that has limits; they routinely ignore historical and scientific reality in order to  make the construct of Christianity become far more hubristic. Nearly all the worst manifestations of Christianity have seemed to redouble against the malevolent bogey of secularism.

In the new-fangled form of belief-centric Christianity, neither murder or anything heinous is the gravest sin in Christianity. Rather, the very possible sin of lacking belief in a litany of human-conceived propositions about "God" is supposedly viewed as the "unpardonable sin" Modern psychology has shown that our brain is largely a very complex organ with heterogeneous thoughts. God should be acknowledging the heterogeneous ideas that are constantly swirling through our minds. Almost all our thoughts have various elements entangled in them much like a piece of Beethoven's music which has a rich array of counter-melodies and other musical factors. 

Contemporary Christianity seems to think "salvation" requires insured doubtless belief in our own ideas about God. There are approximately 39,000 different denominations; each of these claim to have the veritable "eternal" life insurance that will guarantee our spot in heaven. The Christian faith thus is condensed to nothing more than the action of singular, paradoxically doubtless belief in this denomination's regulated theology. 

In the end of it all, Is God really going to judge certain denominations as being unfit for heaven? This obsession with "belief" within the Christian faith makes Christianity one of the more convoluted religions. Except, some of their followers fail to acknowledge this and instead arrogantly reprove our honest questions about a "religion" that has so many logical fallacies.

Why would God be so obtuse to care so much about the level of our "belief?" Is the most important part of our Christian faith really dependent on our ability to believe within Republican ideas, literal interpretations of mythic scripture, and a ton of other abstruse doctrines. The fact remains that Christianity seems to live in a false, immaculate fantasy where we have complete dominion over our minds. There are countless books that help believers "take control of their minds," and purge themselves of any doubtful thoughts that might affect our cognitive ability to believe doubtlessly/thoughtlessly in a number of silly theological ideas.

Things within this world are more complicated than "belief," and "unbelief." When Hamlet first enters the play, he reproves his parents for failing to see the true enigma of his grief that lies underneath his "inky cloak," or "surface-level grief." God is definitely someone who is not shallow and therefore does not just see "belief" and "unbelief." If Shakespeare has managed to write some of the most cerebral plays in the English language, How could the concept of God be reduced to something far more primitive and even insipid.  Does God then not understand the underlying sophistication of Shakespeare? Can he not then descend into the subconscious plane of our psyche, where Shakespeare's plays focus much of their attention on?  (
Later, Hawthorne and Poe would both descend to those same levels)  Is this belief-obsessed God really just an anthropomorphic mold, created by people who are agitated by the limits of the mind. Sensing the limits of their mental powers, they seek power by forcing a certain projection of "God" that seemingly reflects their own fears and desires.  Do we really want "God" to share the worst properties of the narcissistic ruler, who is zealously obsessed over their full acceptance by the people? Is God really just a Machiavellian figure, seeing human beings reduced to mere artless, uncomplicated pawns?

Interestingly,the word insipid means "lacking vigor, or interest." A God that mandates faith upon thoughtless ascension to a set of abstruse propositions about his intriniscally unknowable "existence" is not vigorous whatsoever; it is a religion without the complexity of a Bach composition, or the rich nuance of a Shakespeare play. Even more tragic, its a religion that even ignores the undercurrent of irony and contradictions  that lie below the deceptively simplistic surface of the Bible, which has wrongfully been misconstrued as a text of "fact," rather than something far more vigorous like "literature." 

Even in religious text, there are far more paradoxical complications then the modern church has permitted. Essentially, the principle of Sunday School has made Christianity become more of a "separatist" religion to the extent where the word "secular," means inhabiting the world. Thanks to mistranslated interpretations of several noteworthy verses from St. Paul, Christians now feel that they are righteously obligated to be wholly separated from the world as a whole. Conversely, many Muslims historically were called to fully engage with their world, along with their religion. Unlike the perverse form of fundamentalist Islam, practiced by the extremists, more progressive Muslims are much more like moderate Christians in the sense that they feel Jesus calls them to "engage" with the world. Secular is unneeded because the progressive forms of these religions feel endued with a large instruction to humbly and empathetically engage with the world around them, rather than somberly apprehend the idea of God till one selfishly attains the unreachable goal of having "doubtless belief," in crude notions of a force that lies beyond our cognitive grasp. Progressive forms of religion are far more interested in compassion, rather than the fundamentalist forms. Beginning with Calvinism and progressing with rigid fundamentalist, Christianity and many other religions have been hijacked by a neurosis of fear that as science and history created innovative revelations about our world; the religious revelations of old have become obsolete. As a result, these forms of religion then become very obsessed with legalistically preserving a thoughtless, defensive belief in these older revelations. Are the progressive forms of religion seeking to find a way to help religion survive in our rapidly evolving world?

In the next article, I plan to interpret different pieces of literature from the Christian Mystic Tradition to further support my thesis, surrounding the logical fallacy of the Modern Idea of "Belief." 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Religious without Religion

How to be religious without religion?

      Who are you? What are you? On the cable news networks, we are inundated with questions like this. I sometimes become a victim to the limited rhetoric of these news channels that yield nothing in the way of true wisdom. I hate questions like "Are you a Christian," which always goes on more unwieldy grounds to become a question of authenticity "Are you a "true" Christian?" That question always confounds me because it is derived from our political questions:"Is this person a "true liberal" or a "true Christian?" During the holocaust, there were always questions of one's legitimacy in Germany, based on whether or not a person was a true "Nazi" who had unwavering belief in Hitler's creed. The same phenomenon of group psychology frantically dominates the psyche of some branches of Christianity. When Christianity should be dwelling on God, it becomes a bit more pedantic or concerned only with forcing everyone to ideologically align themselves with certain beliefs in certain ideas. Christianity has become far less about "one's proposed relationship with Jesus" and is an excessively convoluted mess of certain diagnostic questions that define someone as a Christian: You disapprove of homosexuality, abortion, and a number of other politically acceptable ideas for the certain political brand of Christianity that one is. While there are a staggering number of denominations, nearly 39,000, each church is still ardently convinced that they hold the authenticated version of the truth. Even though, the Bible has undergone a number of translations and potential revisions, people still believe that the Bible should be read as an inerrant text. It therefore must be blithely unaware of the complexity of history and the large gap of the unknowable aspects of our lives.

        I can't hate Christianity entirely because it is not a monolithic religion, yet I always find myself becoming caught up in the latest session of "hating Christians," much the same way some Christians hate Muslims or atheists; vice-versa. Parallel to this, Liberals and Republicans within our country are reducing one another to a despised caricature of the other. Different forms of these same types of polar political parties are undergoing the same type of clash. Conflict is integral to our existence. Strangely enough, these warring factions sometimes bring undesired technological or ethical advances.  Eventually, the strict knowledge of sexual orientation remaining singularly "heterosexual" will be banished from our doubtful minds. While we may be living in the heat of this particular struggle over our own complexity, we will eventually see that sexuality is fluid, and not static. We are very uncomfortable with new ideas that shed light on the complexity of a universe that is intrinsically mysterious and wondrous. In the best religious theorems, the universe is created "ex-nihilo" or  inexplicably "out of nothingness" Genesis in the Bible begins the same manner as all Shakespeare plays, which are creations from nothingness. Except, those ideas that Shakespeare had were existing in some intangible form before in fragmented ideas that frenetically raced through his mind. These ideas move as rapidly as accelerated electrons in an atom, or as ineffably fast as quantum particles. Before the genesis of our universe, we can't quite define it. The area is left in complete darkness, and sometimes I find some very dissatisfying ideas about the implications of this darkness from some atheists.

           Why are we so obsessed with comfortably nestling in our ideas of certitude? What is so wrong with some small shreds of doubt? I'm always stunned and disenchanted by the way that some atheists will declare that our anomalous universe was truly accidental and nothing exists before the genesis of it or the eventual destruction of it. Reverently, this signifies the large span of the unknowable aspects of our minds. If we just stop seeking more knowledge about ourselves, our modern ideas will remain crude and slowly become pretty primitive. The whole act of distinguishing people based on their sexual orientation is yet another rendition of limited categorizations of human beings. Throughout high school, I was disgusted by the persistent fear that teenage guys had of being derogatorily defined as being "gay." Then again, I never quite understood the insistence by some of my gay friends made that they wanted people to know that they were gay, almost to the extent where it dominated their entire definition of them.    Personally, I don't really understand the whole sexuality category. Who cares if someone is heterosexual or homosexual? Then again, I've always been kind of gender blind as well. I always hear people made silly comments about the inherent differences between men and women, as if they are requisite differences for every man or women. Sometimes, I find myself reading things about human development, and I stunningly discovered that all human zygotes begin mysteriously without a gender, and eventually the baby later develops a gender. Except, the initial form of life is not strictly one gender or the other. Even in the womb, the "boy" or "girl" still has not been conditioned by the world's weird ideas of what defines a "man" or a "women" Every color that they see is not masculine and feminine just yet.

            Its interesting to note that the Genesis account begins with a "man," who is not profoundly obsessed yet with these distinctions. The metaphorical creator within the story has still not instilled him with the need to rashly define things. Definitions are not bad; they help us differentiate people. When Adam names the animals, he is not creating a hierarchy for them just yet. Instead, he is only trying to distinguish them one from the other. The categories are mere evidence of the diversity of the world. As the world evolves, our language cultivates more "labels," to further distinguish people. The whole spectrum of human civilization is a insatiable thirst for knowledge, yet these clashes are caused by our refusal to accept doubt into our lives. We sometimes allow the categorizes to become ways of denigrating others. The apple in the "Garden of Eden" or our own egos dismiss the complexity of the universe and eventually our categories become religious objects in of themselves to find the means to disapprove of others, revile others on the basis of how we judge them according to our strict objectifying categories. Webster's own definition of "religion" seems very restrictive:: "relating to or manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity." It is so cerebral that it is contingent upon one popularly acknowledge anthropomorphic form of God. Also, does "faitful devotion" leave room for doubts and persistent questions

        Strangely enough, the word "spiritual" is the antithesis of religion as it is defined in these emotive terms:" of, relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit." Essentially, the word "religious" is more neurotic and static, it relates more to certain prognoses of what defines a "religious believer." Spiritual only means that someone has an emotional proclivity towards exploring the deeper questions of our existence, and God is seen as the mystic tradition views him as, which is "unknowable." Perhaps, I'm spiritual, but not necessarily religious. I have no beliefs, but a great burning desire to ponder the deeper questions of our existence. Maybe, an artist, a philosopher, and a mystic all have the same function, which is to reflect on the world beyond the boundaries of conventionality. Our ethical duty lies not with keeping people dangerously fixed to literal notions of the universe, but to help people discern more similarities beneath  thin layer of our "labels." One of my current favorite writers, Dorris Lessing, in her novel The Summer Before the Dark,  boldly illuminates people about the mortality of our superficial beliefs and the immorality of our doubts and thoughts concerning the terribly complex elements of our world. Maybe, being "religious" is not the right term for those who feel like outsiders in our polarized world, the better term or the more appropriate term for inquisitive thinkers is "spiritual" because it based in the uncertainty of our emotions.