April 16th, 2008


Gabbin' About God

Tonight, I bring you three items, all somewhat related to religion:

1. Both Pat Robertson and some preacher whom John McCain idolizes have apparently tried to claim that Islam isn't a real religion. Then again, Jack Chick has said the same thing about Christianity, although he means it in a totally different (but equally, if not more, nonsensical) way. His buddy Kent Hovind has claimed that atheism and evolution ARE religions. Some guy I knew on the Internet a few years ago claimed that atheism is a religion because it was a choice for the "religion" question on government forms. Can't argue with that logic, can you? :P I guess there is some debate over what can be considered a religion. I remember some teacher or professor I had somewhere along the line (I honestly can't remember which one) claiming that Confucianism and Taoism don't count as religions because they don't include deities. I'd say they fit pretty well under the dictionary.com definition, though. What I don't get, though, is how calling something a fake religion implies that it's bad. Whether or not something is a religion isn't a value judgment. Well, unless you're saying that any religion is better than no religion, which brings us to our next item.

2. Americans don't trust atheists. According to a survey from a few years ago (which I'm just discovering now, because I'm behind the times), the participants would be more upset if their kids married atheists than members of other minority groups. Really, though, would you want to marry someone who thought you were going to Hell (or, to look at it from the opposite perspective, someone you thought was going to Hell)? I've always kind of wondered how couples with vastly different religious, philosophical, or political beliefs manage to get along. That's not to say that I think people should only date others with the exact same beliefs, but I don't know that it would work so well if one person find the other's personal philosophy morally repugnant.

3. Watching The Ten Commandments made me think about how I've seen mentions of the similarities between the story of Moses and those of other semitic heroes, like Sargon being found as a baby in the river, and Hammurabi receiving the law on a mountain. I think there's definitely something in this, especially considering that I don't know of any non-Biblical evidence that Moses actually existed. (The movie actually offers its own explanation for this, by saying that his name was removed from Egyptian records after he turned traitor to the nation.) I've seen this same idea about mythological figures being rip-offs of each other used many other times, by believers and non-believers alike: the Biblical Esther was originally Ishtar, Samson was a solar deity (his long hair symbolizes the rays of the Sun), Abraham is Hammurabi with his name rearranged, Marduk is Nimrod, all fertility goddesses are versions of Semiramis, etc. I'm sure there's something in some of these comparisons, but I think it's possible to take it too far. I can just imagine someone in the sixtieth century or thereabouts looking back and saying, "Hey, Martin Luther King and Gandhi both used non-violent protest against racist oppressors, so they must be the same person! And Gandhi's title "Mahatma" is obviously just the name 'Martin' transliterated into Hindi." People can draw connections between just about anything if they really want to.