Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Does Religion promote freedom or violence? I don't know, maybe both.

Now that I have my beloved and apparently improved OpenOffice back, I can take the challenge of taking up longer entries again. The computer troubles I had are over, but it doesn't mean they were any less annoying. At least I won't have the tendency to use the passive rather than active voice any more as it seems the program now has a grammar checker.

Anyway, I wish to returned to a book I've read earlier. I've often see Christians take credit for Christianity leading to greater freedom in the West. Now, it may be that I'm not enough of a historical scholar of the Renaissance to know whether or not this is true, but it seems to me Christianity regardless of how well intentioned it was can be blamed for severely limiting the freedoms of Western Europe during the decline of the Roman Empire and the Dark Ages, but the writers who typically make this claim aren't Catholics – they're Protestants. While it is true that the Rise of the Protestant movement did lead up to the Age of Enlightenment and the reforms that would eventually be embodied in the writings of Locke and the American constitution, I'm not sure it's a cause and effect relationship.

After all, who can we credit more with wanting to limit freedoms today? The fundamentally religious who are involved in Politics, or those who follow their religion or proclaim no religion at all? Don't get me wrong, I'm not against religious people and I'd be lying if I said religion hadn't played a major role in my life (which since this is an Outer Blogness blog, many of you already know.) I don't know if I'm rightly suspicious of those who want to base their politics on their religion or not. I believe the two should be separated. This may or may not be possible since our ethics and morals do guide our political beliefs, but ideally, the politics should be based off the practical needs of a country. It's one thing to believe for religious reasons that one should not drink. It's quite another to force the entire country to that belief when most people clearly want alcohol. (The example of Prohibition is also why I'm in favor of the legalization of many drugs. I have no desire to use them myself, but it seems that we're just strengthening drug cartels with our currently policy.)

I think the deeper issue here is that people want to see good in whatever belief system they practice. Certainly, I will not deny that religion has done much good, but I will not deny that it has done much harm over the years as well. This is especially true of religions that claim they have exclusive rights to the truth, as these are the ones that are most likely to try to convert the unbeliever by the sword. (Okay, although the sword has time honored poetic status, a more modern analogy may be by the gun.)

I think it's natural that humans will sometimes fight, but perhaps we can stop fighting over stupid things like which God is right until we can produce absolute proof that God exists (I believe He does, but that's not to be mistaken for sure knowledge.) Maybe we can fight over more important things like ending oppression.


At Thu Oct 19, 12:05:00 AM 2006 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Sat Oct 21, 02:50:00 PM 2006 , Blogger The Sinister Porpoise said...

I am aware of the problem you are trying to bring to my attention, but this is not the place for it. It shall be resolved in a few days, I hope.


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