Aug 13, 2012

Throwing Confetti

Time was that I was interested in theological debates--an active participant, even, on this blog and elsewhere.

That was then.  This is now.  A year and a half, give or take, after the process of liberalizing belief to save it from what I knew was untrue broke right on through into non-belief.

At first, I still followed things--reading about the agonizing struggles of the progressives or the liberals in their efforts to redeem the faith from this or that conservative position, usually homophobia or some other brand of nasty American politics that had gotten mixed up in it somehow.  Reading, too, about the conservatives returning fire to save the ugly bits of the Bible (the ones that they like, of course--the 'kill the gays' but not the 'shellfish are abomination') from the liberals seeking to corrupt God's Holy Word or vote Democrat.

But recently--especially over the Chick-fil-a flustercluck--I've just found myself losing interest.

Go through the Bible and cut out every verse you aren't following or cleverly interpret yourself out of, and all you'll be left with is two piles of confetti.  Every theological debate boils down to "Jesus would arrange the piles my way and not yours."  Sure, some of them make a better, more consistent case than others; sure, some of them acknowledge (though not in quite these terms) that this is what they're doing whereas others don't; but in the end ... who cares.

You want to know why atheists go after religion?  Because in the twenty-first century we're having a "serious" debate about whether or not certain groups get civil rights and you have both sides scrambling to show that their position is consistent with a "moral" code that allows men to sell their daughters into slavery.  Because millions of people oppose science education on this basis of its contradicting a book that says that the stars are set in a firmament that keeps out the water above them.  Because it poisons the minds of otherwise good people into agonizing over how they arrange their confetti piles.

For what's it worth, I get it, because I did it for a good many years.  But ask yourselves--is keeping those four or five little scraps of paper in the right-hand pile (with 'thou shalt not murder' and 'love your neighbor') and not the left-hand pile (with 'no bacon' and 'slavery is okay') really more important to you than your brothers and sisters, your sons and daughters, and your friends?  I can understand the appeal and struggle of religious belief, but what I can't understand--and couldn't even then--is putting a silly and inconsistent doctrinal 'purity' over the actual happiness of actual people that I love.

What I like most about having left religion behind is the freedom--freedom from arranging those confetti piles, freedom from having to defend positions on any grounds other than the merits, freedom from being called upon to live and think within a theoretical framework whose 'eternal' boundaries were laid down by men who thought that saving the virgins for themselves after capturing a city was sound practice.  Ideas are right or wrong because they can be shown to be right or wrong and not because they can be twisted into consistency with the Bible, and actions are moral or immoral because of consent, harm, and the value of human life and dignity rather than their concordance with the musings of genocidal, misogynist slaveowners.

It doesn't matter whether the progressives or the conservatives are right about religion because religion itself is wrong.  Of course, we would be better off if all religious folk did as the liberals advised and put 'do unto others' above slavery and homophobia--you can sort those piles into some ways that are more harmful than others.  But in the end that's all they're doing, and we'd be better off still if they stopped.

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