There are several things Pat Condell raises which are worthy of further discussion…where to start?
Perhaps before I do get into it, I should post this video which underlines just how the ‘personal relationship with Jesus’ appears to work:
Before you think I am picking on Christians, I’d like to point out that I included this video to support Pat Condell’s specific assertion that very different people who truly and honestly believe that they have a personal relationship with God through Jesus get very different information from this Jesus about what He thinks, says and commands. Yet, they all honestly believe it to be true…
…just like Muhammad truly and honestly believed that he had a personal relationship with God and that God was telling him what is right, what is wrong and what is forbidden. After all, Muhammad did convert to Christianity for a brief period of time in his youth!
So, I would like to bring the discussion back to some of the points Pat Condell had made.
Perhaps by stating that, in my never-humble-opinion, whether god(s) exist is rather irrelevant.
People keep debating, discussing, self-examining and exerting effort and emotional investment towards answering the existence or non-existence of god(s). Frankly, framing the ‘religion debate’ by ‘this question’ is more than a bit of a red herring – it is a load of dingo’s kidneys!
This is not a proper – meaning constructive – debate to have because it rather completely misses the point that the problem does not lie in spirituality per se. Sure, just like cultures – not all spiritual beliefs are equal and some are downright destructive to the human psyche. Their veracity (or lack thereof) does not determine their venemosity, nor their cultural influence!
The archetype (or, perhaps I should call it ‘meme’) of ‘the original sin’ is one of the most toxic, humanity-destructive bits of spiritual belief around – for pretty much the very reasons Pat Condell has stated.
In a sad way, this very ‘spiritual meme’ (for the sake of convenience, I’ll shorthand it to ‘smeme’) is the greatest threat the Western Civilization faces.
Let’s not mince words: our Western Civilization may have arizen from a predominantly Christian area of the world, but it arose precisly by rejecting the dogmatization of spiritualiy as much as was possible. Yes, some wounds are too deep to heal – and the ‘original sin’ is one of these. During a comment-section-discussion with CodeSlinger and Derek, I explored some of these themes, but only tangentially…though at great length, if you are interested in this type of a discussion.
The short version of it is – one of the (several) points I was trying to make was – that ‘modern’, ‘enlightened’ Christians still obey/accept as ‘divine directive’ many of the things that they no longer believe to be ‘true’. Perhaps literally, perhaps even more deeply. The fact remains that once the ‘roots’ of where different bits of theology come from become divorced (to a greater or lesser degree) from the underlying dogma, the resulting ‘rules of proper conduct’, the very ‘morality’ dictated by that ‘religion’ becomes separated from its source.
Once this separation occurs (and the deeper it is – for, like most things, its degree is a continuum – the more this holds true), it becomes impossible to trace the ‘morality’, the ‘reason’ why something is ‘good’ or ‘evil’. The resultant belief that certain actions are ‘good’ or ‘evil’ remains: just the ability to understand the belief itself becomes lost through the unfamiliarity with (or de-coupling from) the fundamentalist dogma it came from.
In other words, it is no longer recognized as a ‘religious dictum’ and, instead, becomes thought of (erroneously) as a ‘universal value’.
This is true – to a lesser or greater degree – of just about all the ‘moderate faiths’.
What is also true is that parents raise their kids ‘to do what is right‘. This permits these ‘moral directives’ which results from specific ‘smemes’ to be passed down the generations without any reference to the original ‘smemes’! (All the guilt, none of the bliss!)
The more secularized and non-fundamentalist a society becomes over a number of generations, the deeper the disconnect between the ‘smeme’ and the ‘moral directives’ that result from it grows. The ‘Great Western Self-Guilting’ is just one of these: in just about all the populist ‘secular’ movements in The West, from environmentalism to radical feminism to just about everything else, we can trace the self-guilt and ‘self-loathing’ back to the ‘smeme’ of ‘Eve’s original sin’. Some try to fight it (inventing ‘salvation schemes’, like ‘municipal recycling’ and ‘carbon taxes’ and ‘reverse discrimination/quotas’), others submit to it (villifying everything ‘Western, Christinan, Jewish’ and attempting to befriend anything and anyone with a contempt for ‘Western Civilization), – but none of them recognize it for what it is: a ‘moral’ directive, left over from the time of Christianity and deeply rooted in the doctorine of ‘original sin’.
No longer having access to the root of this ‘moral directive’, because we have unshackled it from the fundamentalist dogma it is rooted in, we cannot identify (much less question, confront and defeat) this particular demon of ours…
…which is why it has so much power over us!
OK – I have barely scratched the surface here…but, enough ranting for now. Let me know what you think!