Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Biblical Bases for Political Viewpoints... and My Own.

While most of my views and posts focus more on economic issues, I couldn't help but chime in on the recent Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage.  In order to offer a basis, perhaps it may help to elaborate on some of my religious views, as it seems the basis for the opposition to the issue is based on religious grounds.

I am an agnostic... an inquisitive, deistic agnostic.  That is to say, I don't know if the God depicted in the Holy Bible is real, or if the Bible itself is "true."  I seriously doubt it is.  I believe the Bible was manufactured from a wide variety of documents, letters, and written narratives that were cherry-picked by the Council of Nicea.  I believe the Church that emerged after the death of Jesus quickly morphed into an organization more concerned with maintaining, and gaining, power and wealth from its followers than the sanctification of followers' souls.

Since college I have read a great amount of history of the ancient worlds, including the Stone-Bronze-Iron Ages, Greece, Rome, the Dark Ages, etc.  This study has come partially under the light of answering questions about the Bible, the same questions my numerous Sunday School teachers couldn't answer.  But it also came as a result of general curiosity.  I've always wondered what happened and who lived before us.  But I've also dabbled in other social sciences such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, as well as a little into the physical and life sciences.

As a result, I've discovered that science makes much more sense as to the various religions do.  I have, in truth, my own theory on the origin of religion in human history, though I'm sure I'm not the first to have conceived it.  It is this: humans have always been an inquisitive species, and we have always wondered where we came from, how we got here, and why we're here.  So it seems natural and rational to perceive early religions being created to begin answering those questions.  One need only recall their own childhood, or being a parent to a young child, and asking the many questions inquisitive young children ask.

After reading Hitchens' "God is Not Great." I learned its an idea well-developed.  Hitchens takes the point further; since we created religion to explain the world to us before science, now that we have science to explain the world, we don't need religion anymore.  And I tend to agree.

I imagine it starting like this: a small tribe of early humans are sitting around a campfire one starry night.  A child asks what those tiny lights are in the sky.  No parent, especially a father, wants to look stupid or ignorant to their child, so a parent, most likely the father, was willing to make up something.  If the parent was clever, they would create a fable that would entice the child to behave and obey.  "Those lights are the spirits of all the people who lived before us... including my parents, their parents, and their parents' parents.  And they are all looking down upon me and you.  So you better always do as we say, but they are always watching y-o-u."

Not just a plausible theory, but in my view, an allegory of religion in general.  Because of what I've read from so many different subjects, I'm led to conclude the Bible is not a history book, not a logical explanation of the Universe, and barely a comprehensible morality document.

I do, however, believe the words of Jesus are a more consistent moral doctrine, and simpler to absorb and follow.  Sparing all the quotes and passages, I'll just summarize Jesus' teaching as: "Be good to each other."  Simple as that. Don't just be good to the people around you, or the ones you like more, but, as Jesus did, those most in need.  Help heal the sick.  Help feed the hungry.  Just "be good to each other."

Where my agnosticism crystallizes is in the question: Is/was there some kind of a Creator?  While I do not believe the God as depicted in the Bible is real, I do believe there are an infinite number of possibilities of some kind of a being that drives the Universe.  Maybe it's just energy, maybe there is some logic and order to this seemingly random space, or maybe there is not.  To me, to extrapolate that because the God of the Bible isn't real there is can be no higher power of any kind is a leap I'm not willing to take.  A sharper mind like Dawkins or Hitchens would be able to skewer this viewpoint, and one day I may work to develop the idea further, but for now I'm okay with that view as is.

All that said, I take issue with the people who say homosexuality, and hence gay marriage, is wrong because the Bible says so.  The Bible also says it is not only right to have slaves but its also okay to beat them when they get out of line.  The Bible describes the eating of pork as a sin as much as it refers to homosexuality, or other "immorality" as a sin.  The Bible also says divorce is akin to adultery.

Therefore, I will conclude that the people who truly believe homosexuality is a sin because the Bible says so, also own slaves, have never divorced, and especially never had sex before marriage, and never, ever eat pork.

There's a much greater discussion to be had another day on the impact of the Religious Right on contemporary American politics, but I promise you, we will have it soon.