Sunday, September 15, 2013

Haroon Zaidi: Intellectualizing Religion

To start when it comes to these types of discussions my door is always open, as is hopefully my mind and heart.

During the trip to Hopkins marine station a couple of interesting conversational topics came up, including the one mentioned in the title, I will do my best to be logical, but if I ramble please bear with me.

Religion by nature is a very salient topic one that many individuals at Stanford tread quiet gently around.  One of its basic tenants is that it must be fundamentally correct, and by only one being correct it forces all others to be in comparison wrong.   In fact it seems like the only time religion comes up is those late at night conversations and even then one is still afraid to offend someone, although the sheered tiredness and sleep depravedness, cross that deprived state although maybe depraved is also correct (seriously people though, especially those of you snickering, that's a joke) seems to play a role in making people more open. 

The difference between say a religious debate and one that focuses on a philosophical issue, okay maybe philosophy issues are not the best of examples as many philosophers, especially the existentialists seem to address the issue of religion and it seems to me some religions are actually in a way also a philosophy.  So more correctly the difference between a debate in religion and science is that, science can prove things through facts and convince people that way, religion can’t.

Another problem is that religion and culture are so deeply engrained in each other, for example the US is a deeply Christian culture.   One only has to look at the rhetoric in politics and society or the conversations of one’s parents to realize this.   For me it’s always been confusing whether I’m religious or not and to what degree that is my choice .The only way to intellectualize religion to find a way to segregate the two, it seems to me that Dean Scotty McLennan has made many strides in this direction and has made me at least consider Unitarianism as a viable alternative to my current agnosticism.  Having looked at or considered several religions, it seems to me personally that almost all have some truths, but none have the one unequivocal truth.

As a side not maybe it’s just a coincidence, but it seems to me that atheists and agnostics are much more comfortable in talking about their faith or at least their lack thereof.  I think this is because to say ones religion is right in some ways connotes that the others religion is wrong and that your religion is superior, a statement, I and I would like to believe many others would feel uncomfortable making.  Agnostics just shrug at this choice and atheists circumvent the whole issue by just saying it is not something they believe in.   

The key here is that neither group elevates any one higher than the rest.  Maybe that’s the key to such a discussion, admitting that you do not have all the answers to yourself and that you are neither any better or worse than the other person, because of your choice.  The way I always see it is that it is my life my right, my wrongs, at the end of the day I am the only one who has to live it.  

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