Friday, March 20, 2009

The End of Religion In One Paragraph

Following from my earlier post, it strikes me that if adherents of a faith (any faith) are offended by (say) the placement of the components of a cheap plastic toy - or a movie, or a theater show, or a book, or a scientific position, or anything - then theirs is a faith that is so easily bruised that it is not worth having. As I understand it, faith is, or should be, all about the maintenance or even enhancement of the conviction of belief in the face of external threat, not the peremptory removal of that threat for fear that it might be perceived as offensive. In which case, the only way that religious faith can remain credible is to be accepting of any and all such perceived threats, using the argument that the conviction of faith is greater, by far, than any such threats. However, should one follow this line to its logical limit, it becomes clear that faith can and should be tolerant of absolutely any human action, no matter how base, vile, gross or indecent - in which case the faith itself can only disappear. We have seen these phenomena in action: fundamentalists are engaged in a long Dover-Beach-esque retreat, putting up ever more ridiculous barriers against the encroachment of the external world, while those in more mainstream religious organizations will have found that moral relativism has vitiated their faith to such a degree that churches become little more than social clubs. There you are - the end of religion, in one paragraph.

By the way, I framed this thought while sitting on the loo, which goes to prove that the Universe was egested from the back end of a fat middle-aged man in Cromer. Donations accepted in return for Plenary Indulgences. In the Town Hall if wet. Restrictions may apply.


  1. Postscript: if religious people are offended by my argument, I shall consider my point made. Conversely, if religious people are NOT offended by my argument, I shall consider my point made. Either way, I win.

  2. I saw this at the entrance to the Doges' Palace in Venice a few days ago. 'We ask you to show respect the traditions of this place by covering legs and shoulders before entering, similarly we ask that faces are uncovered.' Something like that.

    I felt like applauding. This, to me, symbolises the stance that a religion should take - respect for other religions, but at the same time maintaining respect for itself.

    It is more productive to look for respect than take offence, IMO.

  3. Interesting ideas.

    I'm not sure why a faith that should make sense of and coordinate any human action should then therefore tolerate any human action. The point of religion was and still is to make sense of the contradictory elements of human existence. Thus religion would seek to make sense of both the presence of deplorable human actions and the human ideal of perfection. Also, religion would also attempt to dialectically synthesize the two extremes of church you present, in which one separates from the world and the other becomes just like the world.

    So I would argue that it is not either/or.