Those Who Worship in Glass Houses…

Cidu Bill on Dec 21st 2011

As a show of class during the holiday season, the Ten Craziest Mormon Beliefs website has been created as a tool against Mitt Romney. Because what’s more American than demeaning your opponent by mocking his religion?

Now with all due respect toward everybody’s beliefs, is this somewhere any person of faith really wants to go? Seriously? Because, you know, one man’s belief is somebody else’s “crazy”: do I need to describe how my sister-in-law’s Italian family felt about my nephew’s bris?

(Let’s stipulate that some of you are atheists and that “well, all religions are just stupid” is not a constructive contribution to this discussion)

Filed in Fred Karger, Mitt Romney, Mormons, politics | 53 responses so far

53 Responses to “Those Who Worship in Glass Houses…”

  1. ja Dec 21st 2011 at 09:50 am 1

    >>Now with all due respect toward everybody’s beliefs, is this somewhere any person of faith really wants to go?

    No. And given most faiths have some variant of “treat your neighbor like you would want to be treated,” I would suggest that such actions are in violation of most– if not all– major faiths.

    I would also venture that the claim that the goal of the website is “to help the U.S. population understand the Mormon Faith” is hardly credible. The goal is to discredit Mormonism, not to educate people about it. Any attempt to educate people about the LDS church would include a discussion of all their beliefs, not simply cherrypicking those items most easy to ridicule. Furthermore Mr. Karger and company are not being forthright about WHY they want to discredit the Mormon faith.

  2. padraig Dec 21st 2011 at 09:52 am 2

    Back when I was still mostly Catholic, a friend “enlightened” me by telling me how bizarre Catholic rites and beliefs seem to non-Catholics. Like having a sacrament that sounds like you’re cannibalizing your founder. Or going into a little box and telling an older man how much you masturbate. Or telling people you have to eat fish on Fridays because codfish fillets aren’t meat. (The cod may feel differently.) Or using people sworn to celibacy as marriage counselors. The list do go on…

    The point being that all religions have their items of faith, and they’re usually either of the “can’t be proven or disproven” or the “it’s just how we’ve always done it” variety. These things are more important as distinguishing characteristics of a given group than they are in and of themselves. So I’m willing to cut Mitt & his MoBro’s some slack.

  3. Ben Carlsen Dec 21st 2011 at 10:49 am 3

    All religions have their oddities, and all religions have traditions and myths which are not strictly doctrine, or doctrine at all even in the broadest sense of the word. Mormonism is no different. As much of that site is just Mormon myth and tradition, and not doctrine, it’s not really worth considering.

    As a Mormon myself, I don’t get irritated by people questioning my beliefs. I get irritated when they present them in a mocking way. “Magic underwear?” Yes, we do have articles of clothing that hold religious significance for us. So do several other religions (and by “several other religions” I mean “every major world religion”). However, calling them “magic underwear” makes them sound weird to everybody, so that’s how critics like to present it. That’s irritating. If you call a yarmulke or dastar a “magic hat,” then yeah, it’ll sound weird, too.

  4. Rammy M Dec 21st 2011 at 10:59 am 4

    >>Now with all due respect toward everybody’s beliefs, is this somewhere any person of faith really wants to go?

    so you’re saying it’s ok to have “crazy” (or “ridiculous”, etc) beliefs and customs?
    just don’t point out the other guy’s nonsense, because they’ll point out that you are doing something that you already know is … irrational?

    I haven’t been to the above mentioned sites, but I would say the “I will discredit your beliefs” is a bad goal, and “let us learn about and understand each other” is much better.

    Also, I am in that group you parenthetically referred to, so perhaps it’s best not to say more.

  5. Powers Dec 21st 2011 at 11:00 am 5

    “(Let’s stipulate that some of you are atheists and that “well, all religions are just stupid” is not a constructive contribution to this discussion)”

    Sure, but I don’t think religious people really understand how uncomfortable all of their weird practices make us. We vote for them because we don’t have much choice, but sometimes it’s really hard to support someone who thinks .

  6. DPWally Dec 21st 2011 at 11:00 am 6

    I don’t think the site is genuinely intended to show that Mormon is crazy. As a few people have already pointed out, any religion has teachings and practices that look strange from the outside. The point is to make sure that (non-Mormon) Christians understand that they’re looking at Mormonism from the outside.

    This reinforces the idea, shared by many Christian denominations, that Mormons are not Christian. And, of course, in the U.S. only a genuine Christian can defeat a secret Muslim. (But a Catholic will do in a pinch.)

  7. Powers Dec 21st 2011 at 11:06 am 7

    … who thinks (insert weird religious practice here).

  8. DPWally Dec 21st 2011 at 11:11 am 8

    That’s not a well-thought-out web site, no matter what its real purpose. The items on the list are user-submitted and don’t appear to be researched, maybe not even screened.

    Which means that:
    *There are way more than 10 beliefs
    *Most are dull and not worth reading
    *Many don’t qualify as crazy by any definition I can think of
    *The few I clicked were very basic statements, no support or evaluation or commentary
    *It’s only a matter of time before the site auto-publishes something so awful it embarrasses everyone involved and they have to take it down under public pressure.

  9. Elyrest Dec 21st 2011 at 11:21 am 9

    I am not a religious person, but I was raised Catholic. I’m no longer a Catholic and don’t believe what I was taught growing up - 12 years of religion classes might have done me in. I will make fun of Catholicism, but only with other lapsed Catholics and family members who no longer believe. I won’t mock anyone’s religion, but I don’t want my life to be controlled by it either. As far as atheism goes - all the ones I know seem to be just as caught up with religion as the people who are religious. It’s odd, people seemed to be less religious when I was a kid, but those are the “holy” times people want to go back to. Go figure.

  10. Yann Dec 21st 2011 at 11:58 am 10

    Since this is a comics discussion website, it seems really hard not to put a link to one of my favourites smbc comics: http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=820.

    The question is not the craziness of the beliefs, it is the way you believe. Greek and Romans had far weirder beliefs than your typical christian, but they were not less rational. Believing in a religion doesn’t have to be a 0 1 choice. I know very faithful, very active Christians who don’t believe Adam and Eve were the first humans. And Darwin was a very devout man.

    The question asks itself mostly for monotheist religions, for they are religions which tell you that there are things you shouldn’t believe in. For example, it is hard to be a catholic and believe in Zeus. While Romans were gladly adding every new god to their pantheon…

  11. James Dec 21st 2011 at 12:00 pm 11

    Religion and politics in America will always be entertwined (despite the putative separation of Church and State), and candidates will always tout their religion as a selling point while decrying any questions about their beliefs. Since the press is afraid to ask a twice-divorced candidate how seriously he took his marriage vows before his God, he can profess to be a devout believer. And since Mormons have long been persecuted for their religious beliefs (rightly or wrongly), the Mormon candidates can deflect questions about those beliefs and practices while wearing the mantle of piety. So while I think the website is mean-spirited, un-Christian, and in poor taste, it is simply a product of this “I-can-tell-but-you-can’t-ask” system we’ve developed. I daresay that if we had a “Report Card” for religious piety, similar to the way elected officials are scored on the environment, business, etc., there are very few candidates who would receive a passing grade.

  12. Winter Wallaby Dec 21st 2011 at 12:07 pm 12

    I love the fact that two of the crazy beliefs are “Virgin birth of Jesus” and “People can come back to life after death.” I initially assumed that both were from atheists pointing out the irony of Christians with crazy beliefs mocking Mormons with crazy beliefs, but on closer inspection, both seem to be from Christans mocking Mormons for not believing in the virgin birth and resurrection in the correct way.

  13. ja Dec 21st 2011 at 12:15 pm 13

    @6
    Fred Karger– the person behind this site– is an openly gay republican. He is fighting a battle against the Mormon church over their political campaign contributions toward fighting gay marriage. He is also the person behind http://mormongate.com/

    @8– yep, the site is poorly constructed. However, if you click on “The List” you get the top 10 list.

  14. Keera Dec 21st 2011 at 12:44 pm 14

    Discussions like this remind of the Hindu allegory of the five blind men trying to describe an elephant by feel alone. Their opinion of the animal depended on which part of the animal they were touching (one grabbed a leg and exclaimed “an elephant is like a tree!”). Had they all described a feature of the elephant? Yes. Had they described the actual elephant? No. Which is to say that no one religion (or human) can adequately describe God. And if we could all remember that (the atheists, too), we’d all be so much better off.

    It’s the height of irony that religions that claim to be about love spread everything but. (Atheists who call the religious “stupid” or similar are also not spreading the love.)

    Now, what I want for Christmas is for religion to get the f— out of politics altogether.

  15. DPWally Dec 21st 2011 at 12:49 pm 15

    #12: “The List” isn’t the top 10, it’s the full list sorted by date - 10 per page.

    Now that I’m looking at the dates, either people stopped submitting stuff or there *is* a screening process (resulting in a screening delay).

  16. Winter Wallaby Dec 21st 2011 at 01:05 pm 16

    Keera #13: Atheists aren’t going to “remember” that no one religion can adequately describe God, since they don’t believe in Him (or Her, or It, or Them).

  17. ja Dec 21st 2011 at 01:12 pm 17

    @14
    Oops… you are right! I counted 10 and just assumed that it was the top 10. Duh! I guess I was giving them too much credit…

  18. Ted in Fort Lauderdale Dec 21st 2011 at 01:33 pm 18

    CIDU is now listed on that site in “As seen on”, but in its Popeye edition: “Comincs I Don’t Understand”

  19. Blinky the Wonder Wombat Dec 21st 2011 at 01:37 pm 19

    Keera-

    I am a devout Catholic but I believe that Hindu allegory is perfect. I know how God speaks to me, but who am I to say how he speaks to others?

    The problem with religion in America is that too many people equate dogma with spirituality. Religion is supposed to help us better understand God, not to be a simplified checklist to get into heaven. Of course, the later approach requires less thinking and less effort but often ends up to be less fulfilling

  20. Paperboy Dec 21st 2011 at 01:40 pm 20

    Remember: “It’s not crazy if it’s a Religion.”

  21. Kit Dec 21st 2011 at 01:40 pm 21

    From Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary:

    “SCRIPTURES, n. The sacred books of our holy religion, as distinguished from the false and profane writings on which all other faiths are based.”

    c&p’d from this great website:
    http://www.thedevilsdictionary.com/?S

  22. Keera Dec 21st 2011 at 02:03 pm 22

    WW @15, atheists don’t have to believe to criticize.

  23. Nitric Acid Dec 21st 2011 at 02:03 pm 23

    The “we’ve always done it that way” covers a lot of religious traditions, but it’s awfully hard to try to apply it to recently-sprung religions like Mormonism or Scientology, for which we have solid records of the founders (or the founders had solid records).

  24. Cidu Bill Dec 21st 2011 at 02:09 pm 24

    Ted, that’s quite fascinating (or is it “faskinating”?): did they not realize we were showing their site as much respect as their site is showing the Mormon church?

  25. Winter Wallaby Dec 21st 2011 at 03:18 pm 25

    Keera #22: Yeah, I’m not advocating atheists being d-cks. I’m just saying that the “maybe all our beliefs about God are true, but in different ways” perspective probably doesn’t work for most atheists. Of course, an atheist or Christian could be pretty sure that other beliefs about God are wrong, and still choose not to be a d-ck about it.

    Quack, quack!

  26. J-L Dec 21st 2011 at 04:43 pm 26

    What I find strange is that the main page explicitly says:

    “This web site is by no means meant to harm anyone or any faith.”

    yet it contains the word “Craziest” in its title. That’s not a word often found in respectable educational texts, and for good reason. (That there’s a fightin’ word.)

  27. Paperboy Dec 21st 2011 at 04:49 pm 27

    Perhaps they meant “Crazy” in the Jazz-Slang sense.

  28. J-L Dec 21st 2011 at 04:59 pm 28

    Interesting thought, Paperboy. But if we’re looking for Jazz-Slang, then I would have preferred “Grooviest” over “Craziest.” :)

  29. The Ploughman Dec 21st 2011 at 05:00 pm 29

    Even religious institutions themselves do a bit of self-censoring. I grew up in a Protestant church and it was a long, long while before I heard about Jesus driving demons into a herd of pigs and drowning them in the sea (Matthew 8:28 - http://niv.scripturetext.com/matthew/8.htm).

    As for the oddities of Mormonism, I enjoy the perspective of South Park’s “All About Mormons” episode which, while not shying away from the doctrines that detractors like to scoff at, sees the larger good of Mormonism (and religion in general):

    If you’ve got twenty minutes or so (and don’t mind some SP-style crudity, pretty mild in this episode as I remember):
    www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s07e12-all-about-mormons

  30. James Pollock Dec 21st 2011 at 05:05 pm 30

    There are religious people who follow their views on religious subjects quietly and without fuss, and there are religious people who insist that all other people must believe as they do (to the point of killing them if they won’t.) I try to be respectful of the people in the first category; not so much the second.

    But the truth is that A) every religion has rituals, practices, and beliefs that seen wacky to people not raised in that religion (and some that were), and B) every religion has some things that are assumed to be true but might not be (I’m not talking about faith in general here, but concrete things WITHIN the faith.)

    Here’s an example: Some people believe in the inerrancy of the Bible because they believe it to be the word of God. From that, they wind up reasoning that the Earth cannot be more than 6,000 years old, and evidence to the contrary is deception. Taking as a given for this thought experiment that the Bible IS the word of God (though, obviously, some people’s religious beliefs do not contain this assumption.), why does that make it inerrant? Throughout the books of the Bible, God refers to himself as the “Father” (probably because at the time He was speaking to members of an extremely patrilineal society). OK… when you were young, did your dad always tell you the complete, unvarnished truth? When you were 4, and asked where babies come from, did he draw you a diagram or did he tell you some story about storks or cabbage leaves? So, perhaps, when God was describing the creation of the universe to the shepherds in the fields, God looked down at them and decided something like “these guys are not ready to hear about interstellar gas coalescing into stars, planets, galaxies and globular clusters, about gravity or electromagnetic forces and atomic structure, or about billions of years of evolution from simple proteins to single-celled life to multi-cellular life. I’ll just tell them I whipped it together in a week, and later on, they’ll figure it all out. They’re pretty smart, for hairless apes.” See what I mean? This explanation is just as valid starting from “The Bible is the word of God” as the conclusion that the world is 6000 years old.

  31. jp Dec 21st 2011 at 07:09 pm 31

    “In the Beginning, there was this Turtle.
    And the Turtle was Alone.
    And he looked around, and saw his Neighbor,
    Which was his Mother.

    And he lay upon his Mother, and behold!
    She bore him, in tears, an Oak Tree.
    Which grew all day, and then fell over.

    And under this Tree was walking a Catfish.
    And he was very big.
    And he was the biggest he had seen.
    And the fiery Balls of this Catfish -
    The one is The Sun.
    And the other they call: The Moon…”

    — The Creation according to the Firesign Theatre

  32. Mark in Boston Dec 21st 2011 at 08:30 pm 32

    @James Pollock:

    I think that what you’re talking about is called “Successive Revelation” or “Progressive Revelation” or some such, based on the idea that some things were revealed to people of a certain time because people of earlier times were not “ready”. “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!”
    I find it difficult to accept the idea that people of 4,000 years ago were fundamentally different from people of 3,000 years ago. Humans evolved, but not at that speed and not all at once over the entire face of the earth. (And don’t fundamentalists believe that the human species has NOT changed in any way since the fall?)
    I don’t believe phylogeny recapitulates ontogeny. In other words, I don’t believe mankind went through a stage of everyone being babies all their lives, and then everyone being preschoolers and so on.

  33. James Pollock Dec 21st 2011 at 10:08 pm 33

    Mark, the point is that assuming that the Bible is the literal word of God does NOT (logically) lead inexorably to a conclusion that the world cannot be older than 6000 some-odd years old, but there are many people who believe it does.

    As for your contention that people have been the same for 4000 years (or, more specifically, that the people of 4000 years ago were substantially different from the people 3000 years ago) I will refute this with a simple observation: There are still people who think geology, paleology, and evolution (plus others) are deceptions placed by a malevolent force to fool the faithful… despite the modern wonders we can see around us developed by science, which totally buys into geology, paleology, and evolution (plus others). This is not to say that scientists and engineers have all the answers (they don’t, and they don’t even TRY to cover the ethics and moral framework provided by religion) but the basic test of science is “does it work?” and if the answer is “no”, out it goes.

    Arthur C. Clarke (inventor of the geostationary communications satellite, and noted author) famously wrote that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. I think this extends beyond technology to understanding of the workings of the universe. Had anyone (either with God’s patience or without) tried to explain the modern views of cosmology and the origin of the universe to the shepherds of the old Testament, they’d get about three sentences in before the shepherds wandered off… they thought the world was flat, the sky was a giant rotating dome with tiny stars attached to it, and water beyond that. How far are you going to get explaining He4 thermonuclear fusion? Answer: You’re not, because you’re not even going to get to the point of explaining the size of the sun, what it’s made of, and possibly not even where it goes at night.

  34. Paperboy Dec 21st 2011 at 11:08 pm 34

    God:”I will create living beings who will not be able to comprehend the universe in which they exist. Ain’t I a stinker?”

  35. James Pollock Dec 21st 2011 at 11:13 pm 35

    God created ALL SORTS of living beings who don’t comprehend the universe in which they exist. Nearly all the animals, save cats, don’t understand the universe they live in.

  36. George P Dec 22nd 2011 at 12:09 am 36

    “Since the press is afraid to ask a twice-divorced candidate how seriously he took his marriage vows before his God”

    It’s better than that. According to the Bible, Jesus often spoke in parable, so it’s easy for folks to twist it to fit their own goals (like claiming he wasn’t against the death penalty), but he was clear about divorce: remarriage after divorce, for both the man and the woman, is adultery. Except for infidelity, there are no exceptions. There are no annulments. I have no problem with people getting divorced and remarried; I just have a problem with them claiming to be Christians.

    I do not believe in supernatural beings. I am fine with other people believing in them, as long as they don’t try to force their beliefs on me, and as long as they remain consistent. Whatever makes people happy, I say. Just don’t violate what you profess to believe, or I will call you on it.

    “Pro Life”? Fine, I can respect that, but you’d better be against the death penalty and the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, too, or you are just “anti-abortion”, and you should admit that.

  37. labradog Dec 22nd 2011 at 06:48 am 37

    Remember: If it’s not crazy, it’s not a religion.
    Put another way, every religion has its own special magic crazy.

  38. Swordsmith Dec 22nd 2011 at 08:27 am 38

    Last night I opened my local paper to discover this Cal Thomas’s editorial called “Death of an atheist”:
    http://www.calthomas.com/index.php?news=3427

    It is an all out assault on atheism, well written but very poorly thought out, as it repeatedly calls on scripture as proofs. This classic anti-atheist tactic makes sense only if you start from the position that Cal Thomas’s version and interpretation of the translation of the bible he uses is correct. At any rate I found it repulsive and highly inappropriate as an obituary, an insult not only to Atheists, but also to anyone who doesn’t happen to believe everything Cal Thomas does, be they Hindi, Wiccan, Bhuddist or any other non biblical faith; or even Jewish, Muslim, or Mormon; and by implication even those christians who use different translations of the bible.

    On the other editorial page was Donald Kaul’s “At ease with Christmas wars”:
    http://www.winonadailynews.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/article_abb3addc-2c16-11e1-9f78-001871e3ce6c.html
    (oddly that was hard to find, and where I did find it they had a different title)
    He presents a version of Atheism that varies wildly from the one Thomas attacks; not so much evangelical as, well, “non-religious”. He has no problem with people believing whatever they believe or don’t believe, its just that he personally doesn’t, and yet he’s happy to celebrate the secular holiday that happens Dec 25th, and doesn’t mind calling it Christmas.

    Every religion, and every secular holiday for that matter, is crammed full of all sorts of crazy beliefs, but in addition to that, I think you’ll find people vary wildly in the degree to which they hold any of those beliefs.

    What’s really crazy is trying to force your particular set of beliefs down the throats of those who happen to disagree. Particularly in the case of religion, where proof of one set or another is by definition impossible… but I put it to you that it’s just as crazy in economics or political science or even art appreciation.

  39. Winter Wallaby Dec 22nd 2011 at 10:44 am 39

    Swordsmith #38: Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an obituary used as a f-k you before:

    In this season when many celebrate the object of their faith, there is no joy in the death of one who had faith that God does not exist. Hitchens now knows the truth and that can only be the worst possible news for him.

    Would there be joy in his death if it wasn’t the Christmas season? Or if Hitchens did have faith that God existed? Would both conditions need to be satisfied to take joy in his death, or is one sufficient? So many unanswered questions. A follow-up article is needed, Cal.

  40. The Ploughman Dec 22nd 2011 at 11:11 am 40

    “…well written but very poorly thought out…” -Swordsmith (38)

    This should be a blurb on the cover of Thomas’s next collection of essays. Many times have I read his column, nodding in agreement with the first half only to be blindsided by a wrongheaded and reactionary conclusion put forth in the second.

  41. John DiFool Dec 22nd 2011 at 11:37 am 41

    “I don’t believe mankind went through a stage of everyone being babies all their lives, and then everyone being preschoolers and so on.”

    That’s a pretty astonishing thing to say. You honestly don’t think that a typical person today has a wider perspective on various issues than a typical person 2,000 (or whatever) years ago? Back then people considered those living in the next continent/biome/region etc. over to be literally subhuman; the concept of equal rights and considerations for all humans simply wasn’t conceivable to them, at all. It’s pretty trivial to draw clear parallels between such mindsets and what you typically see on a school playground (I speak from experience). Of course there were those rare individuals who were ahead of the contemporary curve, but like I said they were and always have been rare.

  42. Carmen SanDiego Dec 22nd 2011 at 03:45 pm 42

    @36 “I do not believe in supernatural beings. I am fine with other people believing in them, as long as they don’t try to force their beliefs on me, and as long as they remain consistent”

    I agree with you on this. I am religious and I am perfectly fine with people who aren’t, as long as they are not trying to convince me that I am an idiot for being such or that the things I believe or don’t believe are idiotic.

    My opinion of that website is one of anger and relief. I’m angry because it is such a misrepresentation of the Mormon religion -I know I would be mad if it was my religion being shown in that light. I am relieved because it isn’t my religion and very personal and sacred beliefs being scrutinized and laughed at all over the internet.

  43. James Pollock Dec 22nd 2011 at 04:39 pm 43

    Carmen, I guarantee you that somewhere out on the interwebs there IS a website that treats your religion (whatever it might be) exactly the same.

    I don’t suggest you go looking for it, however.

  44. Mark in Boston Dec 22nd 2011 at 08:45 pm 44

    @James Pollock and John DiFool:

    I accept that mortal men wrote the books of the Bible, each based on his own knowledge and for the people of his own time.

    I cannot accept that God wrote a book intended for all people of all time and yet limited to fit the understanding of one group of people at one time.

  45. Mark in Boston Dec 22nd 2011 at 08:49 pm 45

    Also @John DiFool:

    Look at us! We have progressed so far! We are so much smarter and wiser and better in every way than the people of 4000 years ago! Why if any of us could be magically transported back 4,000 years, he or she would be instantly recognized as a superior person and crowned as King.

  46. James Pollock Dec 22nd 2011 at 10:55 pm 46

    Mark, you said: “I cannot accept that God wrote a book intended for all people of all time and yet limited to fit the understanding of one group of people at one time.”

    I didn’t ask you to. If you start out talking to the people who do believe that God wrote the Bible, starting out with “I cannot accept that God wrote a book…” that’s when they stop listening to you. That’s why we had to start with a divinely-inspired Bible as a given at the start.

    My own opinion is that anyone who claims to know “what God wants”, whether from the Bible or from signs and portents, is either mistaken or lying. I’ve noticed that, with extreme regularity, whenever one person wants another person to stop or start doing something because “it’s God’s law” (or some variant), it always seems to turn out that “what God wants” corresponds exactly to what the person expounding “what God wants” wants.

    P.S. God wants you to send me money.

  47. Cidu Bill Dec 22nd 2011 at 11:07 pm 47

    Well actually, Mark (44), there is some logic to this: God can explain the same basic truths to different people depending on their particular abilities to understand, the same way you or I might explain something one way to a friend and another way to a child. If mankind as a whole can’t look at all the explanations together and see how they reconcile as a single unit, that just might be our own failing.

  48. James Pollock Dec 23rd 2011 at 12:21 am 48

    Religion covers a lot of turf, from the nature of the universe and its creation, to ethics and personal responsibilities. Some of these things, like the Golden Rule, are timeless and unchanging; some (like the creation story of Genesis) reflect the understandings (or lack thereof) of the people who wrote them. Others (the demon theory of disease) can be reconciled with modern understanding if one is willing to stretch a little (or a lot). i.e., when Jesus drove the demons out of people to cure their diseases, were those demons microscopic single-celled organisms? (When modern doctors cure leprosy, they drive out the bacteria that cause it… although it takes a year, and a modern pharmaceutical manufacturing facility.)

  49. Proginoskes Dec 23rd 2011 at 02:18 am 49

    Gee … People have been calling my religion (Discordianism) “crazy” for decades. Isn’t turnabout fair play?

  50. Proginoskes Dec 23rd 2011 at 02:27 am 50

    Some entries:

    “You cannot go to heaven without Joseph Smith.” Yeah, that’s just crazy. Especially since the majority of the planet believes “You cannot go to heaven without Jesus Christ.”

    “Give everything you have to the church.” I thought this was in the Bible, which means it should be what a majority of the planet believes in.

    “Mormons believe Jesus Christ saved them from their sins!”

    “They have an incredible room that is replica of Heaven in each Mormon Temple.” Hmmm. Did they take pictures, or are we going from Joseph Smith’s memory?

    “You cannot swim while on your mission because Satan has dominion over the water and he will drown you.” Okay, that’s starting to get into La-La-Land.

    Come on, where’s that “baptism of the dead” thing? Or Joseph Smith reading hieroglyphics off of gold tablets with his magical glasses behind a curtain? (Unseen by everyone else, of course.) Or even the story that Joseph Smith told a man that God told him [Joseph] to marry his [the man’s] daughter? You know, that really wild ****?

  51. Singapore Bill Dec 23rd 2011 at 03:41 am 51

    Well, as an atheist, I’d have to say all religions are stupid. :)

    Now, given that I assume all religious persons are operationg under some degree of delusion AND given that they generally talk about how their belief in their personal brand of invisible friend will guide them and shape their decisions in office, knowing what their religions actually espouse certainly is relevant information for a voter.

    I think, for a politician, their religion is the same as their family: if they don’t drag it into the spotlight and try to exploit it for political gain, it’s their business, otherwise, it’s a fair target for criticisim.

  52. James Pollock Dec 23rd 2011 at 08:17 am 52

    Singapore Bill, your political philosophy, as expounded in two paragraphs, doesn’t address hypocrisy. You can only hold a politician to the beliefs he* actually believes, not the ones he claims to believe in order to obtain votes from the faithful. The ones he doesn’t actually have won’t influence his decision-making. (Take, for example, the difference between what Newt Gingrich said about marriage and his actual actions. Or, if you prefer for political purposes, the difference between what Bill Clinton said about marriage and his actual actions. Or Herman Cain. Or John Edwards. or…(etc.)) Just because a guy says he believes something when he’s standing in front of a group of people, doesn’t mean he ACTUALLY believes that…

    None of this argument, of course, means that candidates can’t be sincere in their proclamations of faith, just that you have to look at what they do, (or did), not what they say they do (or did).

    *or she

  53. Elyrest Dec 23rd 2011 at 11:17 am 53

    What a person believes and strives to do is often at odds with their actions. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t sincere in their beliefs. Politicians who use their faith to manipulate voters are particularly vile though.

    I don’t believe in any religion myself, but I won’t condemn anyone who, honestly, does. Faith can contribute quite genuinely to a person’s life - I’ve seen it in members of my family. The thing that believers seem to forget though is that you can’t fake belief. Once it’s gone it’s not easily brought back from the dead. There aren’t many Lazarus believers out there.

Comments RSS

Leave a Reply