I figure there are many good people in every mass movement or belief system, but that systems requiring the highest levels of conformity tend to create difficulties for people with questions like myself, and that people devoted to sustaining each system will employ plenty of rationalizations to convince themselves of its purity and truth and never consider that the evidence may be lacking or ambiguous in many cases.
I am sure any apologetically minded Christian could produce a list of their favorite books defending their Protestant, Catholic, Pentecostal or other beliefs, and questioning every other point of view. But why didnʼt God show everyone the truth and keep Christians together? Why so many divisions and questions rather than agreed upon answers? I guess Satan is blinding everybody on all sides. Or as Benjamin Franklin once put it (without reference to Satan):
“Every other sect supposes itself in possession of the truth, and that those who differ are so far in the wrong. Like a man travelling in foggy weather they see those at a distance before them wrapped up in a fog, as well as those behind them, and also people in the fields on each side; but near them, all appears clear, though in truth they are as much in the fog as any of them.”
Personally, I tend to think of humans as primates with the tendency to leap on bandwagons and follow alpha males/females. I also agree with Eric Hoffer when it comes to humansʼ desires to join their egos to mass movements, whether such mass movements be Christian, Muslim, fascist or communist. Hofferʼs works contain some brilliant insights into the similar psychological drives that animate adherents of mass movements. As he put it, “The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready is he to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause.” For more quotations click here.
And to expand upon Franklinʼs “they are as much in the fog as any of them” story, one need only read the testimonies of those who questioned and/or left Protestantism (click here) or Catholicism (click here) after being devoted to one or the other for decades.
Or one can read books by others who have found that like all mass movements that become institutionalized, the larger the institution the more willing it seems to make deals with the devil to retain its institutionalized existence, i.e., in the case of Catholicism such deals have been made with fascist rulers, or to keep silent concerning abuses perpetrated by members of the institution, or even deals with bankers and the Mafia, etc. (click here).
I also find that people who idolize figures in history or who idolize institutions usually donʼt know very much about them, or arenʼt willing to look at whatʼs swept under the rug so to speak, including Jesusʼs and Paulʼs apocalyptic soon final judgment predictions and cult-like teachings. Check out the new book, The Bad Jesus: The Ethics of New Testament Ethics (click here).
Not to mention my older piece, The Lowdown of Godʼs Showdown.
The great irony of Christianity is that it consists of too many schisms to mention, including conservative, moderate, liberal spectrums of differences within each major denomination, yet ‘Christianity’ or rather ‘Christianities’ claims more supernatural advantages than any other movement on earth. Believers claim to possess the only inspired writings on earth, and a prayer hotline by which they may ask and receive guidance from God to lead them into all truth, and a new heart implanted inside them via divine favor=grace. Yet they have come up with countless schisms and centuries of defending intolerant and even in some cases unscientific points of view. I am not saying religion has not also done good, nor should believers deny that non-Christian doctors, inventors and politicians have also done good. You donʼt have to be a Christian to do good. My point is that Christians claim humongous supernatural advantages over every other mass movement and belief system, yet when you look at the history of Christianity it is the history of schisms too numerous to mention.
And for over 1000 years when a devout Christian (or a large majority of Christians) ruled over a city, country or nation, they instituted laws against blasphemy, heresy, witchcraft, etc., and continued to do so for centuries, from the days of the Christian Roman Emperors that later of whom wound up declaring in their famous book of law that all non-Trinitarians were ‘demented’ and that the Emperor would punish them and destroy their writings, all the way to the days of the Reformation when the same was still occurring.
Augustine of Hippo set forth the principle of Cognite Intrare (‘Compel them to enter,’ based on Luke 14:23). Cognite Intrare would be used throughout the Middle Ages to justify the Churchʼs suppression of dissent and oppression of difference (click here).
Christian persecution of pagans—exceeded the pagan persecution of early Christians (click here)
Christian persecution of fellow Christians—exceeded the pagan persecution of early Christians (click here)
Reformation Christian persecution of fellow Christians—exceeded the pagan persecution of early Christians (click here)
Christian persecution of American Indians—exceeded the pagan persecution of early Christians (click here)
Decrees of Christian Emperors against non-Trinitarians (click here and scroll to bottom of blogpost)
Protestant and Catholic defenses of the necessity of persecuting heretics, blasphemers, infidels, etc. (click here)
Life is confusing enough, and features enough daily disappointments and pains, and requires enough time and work obtaining necessities to exist or thrive (not to mention that we humans can seemingly get sidetracked or addicted to nearly any idea, behaviors or items, due to our large brains) that I figure most people are apt to lend their allegiance to all sorts of mass movements and belief systems. But to imagine a God tossing us primates into a place of eternal punishment—without even giving us a second chance after we have finally been shown a literal heaven, hell and angels after we have died, and without even lending a supernatural hand to heal the scars left on our psyches from life on earth, or without even lending a hand to to glue together into more meaningful focus our broken scattered painful memories from life on earth, and after only allowing each of us this brief stint of a few decades years of life or less in a ‘fallen’ cosmos—makes little sense to me. Everlasting punishment makes little sense. What does make sense to me is to honestly admit that things we donʼt know are things we donʼt know, and that confusing or ambiguous evidence is confusing or ambiguous evidence, i.e., without trying to make excuses to fill in such blanks or hazy knowledge with fully formed religious or philosophical belief systems.Labels:agnosticism, Augustine, Catholicism, Favorite Quotations/Aphorisms, true Christian
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