Wednesday 7 May 2008

Is faith evil?

So am getting close to the end of Richard Dawkins book "The God Delusion" and once I've finished I'll post a over all review of the book and my thoughts on it. I've also downloaded a 2 part BBC show that he took part in called "The Root of all Evil" he disliked the name. However the BBC wanted to use it to get peoples attention. Either way it goes well with today's blog about the book.

Like with any talk on religion I honestly don't believe that these things describe everyone who believes. However it certainly does apply to what I would like to think of as a very vocal minority.

The section I just finished was entitled "What's Wrong with Religion" he over the course of the chapter he covers a lot of material and makes a number of interesting points. I won't go in to all of them but will mention a couple that caught my attention. I think the most interesting one was the importance placed and not placed on life. For example the importance placed on the unborn life of a newly conceived baby, one so young it is barely more than a few cells. They cry out that it is murder and that all life is scared, even the potential of life. By that logic a woman being raped shouldn't fight back because there is the potential of life. The logic is clearly flawed in my opinion. I guess it doesn't help that many of the same people who protest and in some cases call for the deaths of Homosexuals, and murders. I would have thought all potential life would include the living.

Richard also introduces the reader to the term 'American Taliban' not a phrase he coined but one that certainly seems to fit. A lot of the quotes that the site shows go hand in hand with the believes of the Taliban just change it from Christianity. It doesn't matter if your Christian, Pagan or Atheist click on that link at the start of this paragraph and read through some of the quotes. Many of them made me just shake my head while others disgusted me. Sadly a lot of these people represent (Or pretend to represent) a large number of Christians and as such they are often seen as a representation of Christianity as a whole.

But lets get on to the real subject of this blog "Is Faith Evil?" Richard makes the argument through out the book and more directly in this chapter that Faith is Evil not just in reference to the extremists like the Taliban (In either Country) but faith in general. Here is what seems to be the root of his logic that led to it.

Faith is evil because it requires no justification and brooks no argument.

The argument continues on to say that even teachings moderate religions though not extremist in themselves are an open invitation to extremism. Due to the way all principles of faith must be respected. After all if everyone is to be expected to accept and respect your religion, you should be expected to respect others. That includes the Osama bin Laden, suicide bombers, the abortion doctor killers all of them do what they do out of faith.

Here is where I have to disagree I certainly expect people to respect my own faith path as a Wiccan. I respect people of other faiths, I don't in anyway feel the need to or the responsibility to respect any person whose faith leads them to hurt, kill or even threaten other people. My own belief includes the words "Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill — an ye harm none, do what ye will" To put it simply you're free to do what you want so long as it doesn't hurt anyone else. It's a straight forward and to the point I suppose you could argue that under that rule abortion wouldn't be allowed, but then you would have to figure whom the pregnancy would hurt more the unborn fetus without nerves to feel or the mother (A whole and complete person)

Faith itself isn't evil what is done in the name of faith often is. I could post a laundry list of evil things done in the name of religion and include them all. My own is in that list as well although not on the same scale as the big 3 religion, after all we haven't been around for more then a hundred years. We as people need to look beyond our faith and realize that people worship how they worship and it is up to them to decide how they do it. Its not my(or anyone else) place to tell them what they can and can't do, so long as they are not doing it to me.

Now my own faith is a mystery religion and people who follow it are actively encouraged to study and learn. In fact people regular question the basic tenants of faith that we follow. It is through questioning that we learn and come to better understanding of the mysteries. We don't take things on blind faith, that's one of the things that love most about Wicca. I encourage people of every faith to do the same, question everything, learn and research it. All it should do is strengthen your faith, if it does something else perhaps your following the wrong path. If someone is telling you just to believe something and not to question it them maybe they have something to hide. By questioning and furthering our own understanding of our faith and our beliefs we can better stop people from doing with evil acts under the banner of our faith.


Howling Hill said...

For example the importance placed on the unborn life of a newly conceived baby, one so young it is barely more than a few cells. They cry out that it is murder and that all life is scared, even the potential of life.

I was telling my uncle, a Catholic, I was newly elected to be on the board of a local abortion provider. He said to me "oh, where they kill babies?" to which I replied "that's rich coming from someone who supports the killing of 4000 American troops and over a million Iraqis."

While I can see how many believe abortion is murder I don't see how they can abhor it yet justify war. There can't be a double standard as far as I'm concerned. Life is sacred or it isn't.

Humans create life to end life everyday: we've domesticated plants and animals and kill them everyday so we can survive as a species. I've brought this up a number of times only to hear "that's different!" It's different because we choose to eat plants and animals but also because plants and animals rank lower on the totem pole than humans.

Very interesting topic, Randilin. Thank you for writing about it.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like an interesting book.

"Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill — an ye harm none, do what ye will", applies just as easily to abortion as to any of the other difficult decisions we have to make in life. One of the interesting facts about "the faithful" is their belief that they need to make these decisions for us. When reading any of the holy books, or studying any of the various religions tenets, the point to life seems to be that we make the hard decisions and live with the consequences. I think the Wiccan Rede is a perfect standard for us all to live our lives and is right up there with "do unto others, as you would have others do unto you."