fidesquaerens (marta_bee) wrote,

It's A-Week again, which means my FaceBook page is covered in litle stylized A's. That has me thinking about the topic of atheism, and so a few days, I finally read Bertrand Russell's famous "Why I Am Not a Christian" speech.

He defines Christians as people who have a certain set f beliefs - that God exists, that you'll survive your death, tat Christ is a sort of moral exemplar if not God-in-man. It's not the specifics that bother me, it's the whole idea of a category of beliefs. Here's my problem: I'd say before a belief has any hope of being true it must be understood by the person that believes it. I cannot have a true belief that all biltrices are nargles until I know what a biltrix and a nargle is. But this is just what traditional Christianity denies - that (a) God can be broken down into parts, and (b) that God's essence [the undifferentiated core of what He is, as opposed to His relationships to others] is beyond my ability to understand it. The problem isn't that the beliefs are unproven or untestable; it's that the subject matter doesn't really sort into beliefs at all.

Yes, Christians had creeds. But historically those creeds came about when one group wanted to expel another. Jesus IIRC only taught the "Our Father," and that was all about the relationship of God to us, not God per se. I'd be more comfortable talking about religious traditions not as a checklist of phrases you have to agree to but as a methodology, a toolkit for exploring something that's really above all our pay-grades. I mean, have you actually read the Nicene Creed? How the heck can you be both "eternally begotten of the Father" and at the same time "of one Being with the Father"? You can't be begotten out of something that's also the same thing as you. I have to imagine that 99.9% of the people sitting in the pews - even most of your parish priests - don't understand what those words, or just what it is about the Holy Spirit "who proceeds from the Father and the Son" that differentiates the RCC from, say, the Eastern Christians? It's easy to nod your head to things you don't really understand, but it's hardly the case that you believe them.

So I'm leaning more and more to saying Russell was wrong here, that the Fundamentalists and anyone who wnts to use doxology to say "you're one of us, but you over there, you're not" is barking up the wrong tree. I want to say that there's still a brain state worth thinking about: of faith, the conviction that what I am able to grasp isn't all there is to experience. But that also feels a bit like a Hail mary - to say something does the work beliefs normally wouldn't, but isn't subect to the same needs to justify the belief.

I'd appreciae some opinions. Is religion all about belief, or is there something else going on?

(I've had about five hours of sleep since Saturday night and I am seriously sleep-deprived. Am going to crash now. Even if I don't reply, though, this is something I'm very interested in. (It's one of the things that keeps me up nights, actually. That and BMEM.) But if you have thoughts on this topic, please do make them. Is religion about creeds and beliefs, or is there something else going o? (Or both, or neither...)
Tags: religion
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