Food for Thought

Filed under:Religion — posted by Anwyn on January 5, 2008 @ 1:44 pm

A guy I know describes himself as both Christian and Buddhist and has mentioned, in that context, looking at beliefs and religions “that have something to offer.”

I think it’s likely to be more valuable in the long run to consider whether any religion or belief system tends to oblige you to allegiance.

People looking for something to be offered them might tend to wind up, um, enthusiastically taking up for long lists of tripe to see where they can get the best value. What happens when the next big bargain of “something offered” for effort, self-discipline, and time comes along? Certainly the belief system that exalts human beings to the top of the rational food chain has a lot to “offer” in terms of pride and self-importance.


  1. My father is a self-described Evangelical Fundamentalist. That’s his label for himself, mind you. He says that when he reads about others claiming the same label he scarcely recognizes what is being espoused. I would have to say the same thing about some self-described atheists. I’m an atheist only because I haven’t found any reason to be theistic; not because I want to “belong” to a cool group.

    my $0.02.

    Comment by Allen — January 5, 2008 @ 2:26 pm

  2. I would hope that “something to offer” would somehow be a search for truth, but I suspect not. Sounds like he’s looking for a Consumer Reports analysis of which belief system he should buy.

    That might work fine for a while, but eventually you need to seek what is true.

    I remember hearing Joseph Campbell say that you can’t have two belief systems (such as Christianity and Buddhism) because that’s like trying to run two kinds of software on the same machine. Of course, that was before Windows so the analogy worked better.

    Comment by Anne — January 5, 2008 @ 4:07 pm

  3. Allen–that’s exactly what I mean. Anybody who puts that list that I linked to is not an atheist for lack of compelling reason to be theist, but seemingly because he has boiled together atheism and all the other Isms in the list to come up with the way he wishes to view the world rather than making an intellectually honest attempt to view it as it is and drawing conclusions. I’d say you are the latter type of atheist–you’ve sized it up and drawn a conclusion, not gone around cherrypicking stuff that has “something to offer” in terms of motivation.

    Comment by Anwyn — January 5, 2008 @ 5:48 pm

  4. And Anne–truth is what I mean when I say “something that tends to oblige you to allegiance.” If you evaluate the evidence and come to the conclusion that there is a God, that’s an obligating truth, not the “something to offer” mode that will say things like “I’m a Christian because it’s more comforting to believe in heaven” or “I’m a Christian because it’s a good set of moral values on how to treat people.”

    Comment by Anwyn — January 5, 2008 @ 5:50 pm

  5. You’re nicer than I am. If it’s more comforting to believe in heaven, that’s not really much to support that belief. And as for the good set of moral values, well, you can get those anywhere without having to believe in anything.

    I think I’m splitting hairs and ignoring the main point of your post, which is blind arrogance. And I’ll go along with that, too.

    Comment by Anne — January 7, 2008 @ 3:33 pm

  6. I meant that to view the world as is convenient is blind arrogance, not your post.

    Sometimes I need to hire a writer. What is it about clicking the “say it” button that makes me realize what a doofus I’ve just been.

    English! I haz it.

    Comment by Anne — January 7, 2008 @ 3:34 pm

  7. We’re agreeing. I was saying that “more comforting to believe in heaven” is silly, and I agree with you that you don’t have to be a Christian to understand how to properly treat people. I was saying those two reasons are far inferior, imho, to searching for that obligating belief or truth.

    Comment by Anwyn — January 7, 2008 @ 3:40 pm

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