Saturday, May 31, 2008

Religion v. Atheism

I was listening to a few minutes of one of Chris' podcasts this afternoon - the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe. It was interesting to listen to; one of the topics they seem to discuss often (the few times I've heard snippets) is religion. One of the panelists indicated (if I'm remembering this correctly) that she feels she has a right to opine that religion is nonsense. (She used different terminology that I won't repeat here.) I agree that she absolutely has the freedom and right to believe whatever she chooses, and to even engage others on the topic. But a few things bother me about the specific phraseology she had used. One fellow indicated that using such terminology could be seen as inflammatory, even causing others to feel their beliefs are being completely invalidated. And I think this is my biggest problem with such opinions: While atheism as a concept bothers me, the way in which it is often presented is such that it makes me feel that my beliefs are unfounded, and, even worse, that I am a fool to belief what I do.

What also bothers me is the indication that those who are religious are also illogical, not taking into account that many of us have theologically questioned and studied the tenets of our religion, not merely or simply blindly following dogma "because we have to." There are reasons for may of the practices, and I admit that even I am surprised by those who have never questioned their religion and its practices and dogmatic teachings. But ultimately it comes down to having to make a decision about whether we accept the teachings of the Church and whether we can accept our inability to understand that which God has not made known.

There's a lot of humility when it comes to accepting a religion, admitting that one doesn't have all the answers. I know I've had trouble accepting all the Church's teachings, and that's something I still struggle with. Understanding that people choose to be humble in their beliefs may be something that perhaps  can't be understood. There's a lot about everything that I don't understand, but I don't necessarily discount it. And that's one of the other big issues - I know I'm very sensitive about having my beliefs discounted or believed to be unfounded. And this is why I tend to just stay away from discussions of religion with most people who aren't religious. 

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