Wednesday, September 17, 2008


On my way out of church last Sunday, I saw a bumper sticker with the above image on one of the cars in the parking lot. This image really sums up my feelings about people with different religions living together in a single society. We should strive to coexist. We'll just have to agree to disagree about which of our religious opinions is correct, if any of them are. In the meantime, there's no good reason we can't get along and be good neighbors to one another.
We don't have to like each other's religious beliefs or agree with them or accept them in any way. We just have to acknowledge that people differ in matters of faith and that no amount of reasoning or arguing is going to make any difference. That's because, let's admit it, all our religious beliefs are completely irrational and not susceptible to reasoned debate. From an objective perspective, they're all just about equally crazy. I profoundly believe certain propositions about God, but I have come to realize that I should not expect anyone else to give them any more credence than they would Flying Spaghetti Monsterism or Wicca or Scientology or Mormonism or Catholocism or any other religious belief.
Belief is involuntary. We don't choose to believe anything. We just believe or disbelieve as the case may be, so there's no reason to hold anyone's religious beliefs against him. They believe what they believe because that's what they believe. They were brought up in the Flying Spaghetti Monster tradition, and it stuck, maybe. Or they just woke up one morning and decided that they really were infested with millions of tiny aliens. For me, when I got as far from my Southern Baptist roots as I could, I finally recognized Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I don't have a reasoned apology for it. It's just what I believe, and I thank God for the gift of belief.
This being the case, it is important that government remain utterly neutral on the question of religion and involve itself in no way with the advancement of one religious belief over another. If there is a free market in religious memes, that will work out a lot better than a centrally planned religious "economy". Folks will come to believe that which suits their personal requirements or that which God leads them to believe. Anything religious that comes from the state will be designed to further the interests of rulers rather than getting anyone closer to the truth about God.
It is utterly irresponsible, even criminal, in my opinion, to attempt to use political means to compel others to abide by your religious beliefs or to promote your religious beliefs via force and fraud, ie government. My enemies are not necessarily those who believe differently from me; they are those who refuse to respect my right to believe differently from them.

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