Monday, April 14, 2008

Either/or: A discursus

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
This was recently quoted in my general direction as a statement against religious belief; specifically Christianity, in the case of Voltaire. But the fact is, you can't make people believe absurdities. They will, by and large, only believe that they want to believe. It's part of the epistemological divide: what do I learn v. what is revealed to me. Nothing I learn is ever absurd; not to me. So the doctrines of the eucharist, baptism (infant or otherwise), the Trinity, the Incarnation: all quite reasonable, if I learn them and take the teachings as sound.

But "Love your neighbor as yourself"? "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"? If you have two coats, give one to the person with no coat? Feed the hungry? Shelter the homeless? Give water to the thirsty? See the kingdom of God here, now, immediately, among you? Absurd! Who can believe such things?

Now, and especially given the lessons of history, which of these is more likely to lead to atrocities, I leave up to you. But while I may make you acquiesce (somehow!) to that which can be learned; how do I ever make you believe what is patently so absurd? The kingdom of God, where the first are last and the last first, can be among us right now, and we can proclaim it, even as Jesus directed his followers to do?

Don't be ridiculous!

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