Another illustration of why I don’t engage in debates about “religion”

Look at this image:


Quite frankly, any discussion about “religion” needs to  begin with the following point:

Until — and unless – one explicitly defines the term “God”, discussion is impossible.

What typically happens in most “discussions” is: A very specific definition of “God” is smuggled in — without anyone specifically acknowledging that fact.   Worse, this happens on both ‘sides” of the ‘discussion’ in many cases.

Typically (especially here in the U.S.) self-described “atheists” are implicitly – or explicitly – relying on an (implicit or explicit) definition of “God” which has been smuggled in/carried over, typically from Christianity.

In other words, in the vast majority of such “debates”, the following equation is assumed:

God = Yahweh

Now, right away, that “stacks the deck” – on both sides  – without admitting the nature of the “con-game” being perpetrated on both sides.

The term “theism” serves as a convenient cover (especially among the “New Atheists”), because they  don’t have to admit –  even to themselves – that they remain securely – and immovably – trapped in a conceptual “box” imposed on them by THEIR OWN OPPONENTS.

Actually, several layers of such “boxes”:

Let’s take an easy example: the “Former Fundie”:

You get the idea: folks who were explicitly ‘raised” (IE: indoctrinated/enslaved by) the least sane/most blatantly irrational variants of Protestantism, but who were too intelligent/curious/rational to just mindlessly swallow everything without trying to understand at least some of it, first.

Now, here’s the thing:

You need to specify what it is that you “lack belief” in:

In their case, a conceptual taxonomy would consist (roughly) of the following (from general to specific):

“Theism” -> MONOtheism -> ABRAHAMIC Monotheism -> Christianity -> Protestantism -> {insert Denomination/sect/cult here}

Now, it should be obvious that it is entirely possible to fall ANYWHERE across the above spectrum of “belief” – at each level.  The only real caveat to this is: it is not possible to “believe” more strongly at a more specific level, than at a higher one.

For example, it is self-contradictory to be a “weak atheist” in regard to “theism” in general, but a “strong theist” with regard to the specific KJV-only subculture in which you were “raised”.

That would “unpack” to the following claim:

“the existence of gods is unlikely, so I’m willing to say that I don’t believe in any gods — but IF I DID, such a god would HAVE TO EXACTLY CORRESPOND to what Paster Billy-Bob from “Cousin-Fuck Junction” was screaming about at the all-night revival meeting, before they brought out the rattlesnakes.”

There’s a not-particularly-funny joke I found a while back:

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said, “Stop! Don’t do it!” “Why shouldn’t I?” he said. I said, “Well, there’s so much to live for!” He said, “Like what?” I said, “Well, are you religious or atheist?” He said, “Religious.” I said, “Me too! Are your Christian or Buddhist?” He said, “Christian.” I said, “Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?” He said, “Protestant.” I said, Me too! Are your Episcopalian or Baptist? He said, “Baptist!” I said, “Wow! Me too! Are your Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord? He said, Baptist Church of God!” I said, “Me too! Are your Original Baptist Church of God or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?” He said, “Reformed Baptist Church of God!” I said, “Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915?” He said, “Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915!” I said, “Die, heretic scum!” and pushed him off.

Okay, so that’s not a very good joke, but you get the idea.

The whole “religious belief” thing is both hierarchical and granular:

It is hierarchical in that one can (fairly easily) observe a progression from more general claims, to more specific ones.

It is Granular, in that ones “beliefs” consist (implicitly or explicitly) of a whole “stack” of the above-mentioned statements.

That’s part of what makes the topic so damnably complicated.






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