Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tolerance Begins with Common Sense

By Michael David Rawlings

In the piece "Religious 'tolerance' doesn't include dissent" (see below) printed in the religion section of the Arizona Republic, Scott Hunter demonstrates precisely why liberty is so difficult to maintain in a fallen world.

He begins his op-ed  with the silly assertion that "[r]eligious freedom is a misnomer", presumably because religions tend to make exclusive claims about reality. But only nitwits go about their business pretending that mutually exclusive ideas are simultaneously true. If it's sensible for Hunter to argue that there exists "no freedom within religions" then it's sensible to argue that no organized group formed around a specified system of thought about anything, religious or otherwise, is free from within. Hunter's assertion is meaningless. The title of his op-ed is redundantly meaningless.  Moreover, the construct of religious freedom pertains to free association, not to any obligation on the part of others outside any given religious group.  Hunter's not defending freedom at all; he's a multiculturalist thug asserting an obligation on the part of others with regard to his idiotic worldview.

Hunter also ascribes to the specious version of the Jeffersonian doctrine of the separation of church and state foisted on America by the Warren Court. The Court correctly observed that it was unconstitutional for state schools to impose the teachings of Judeo-Christianity on other-religious or non-religious persons, but then decided to resolve the matter by imposing a similar violation on all of us and needlessly instigated a vicious cultural civil war. Because it is abundantly self-evident that no institution of any kind exists in an ideological vacuum, it is abundantly self-evident that one size systems of education cannot comfortably fit all.

Instead of directing schools to provide educational choice and thereby satisfy the requirements of the First Amendment for all, the Court ordered the schools to do the impossible. While Hunter may be offended by the efforts of Christians who insist on having their cherished convictions represented in public schools, as he overlooks the efforts of those who insist on imposing atheistic notions of origins and pagan notions of human sexuality in the same—I'm offended by the tyranny of judges who insist on empowering the state to arbitrarily dictate what ideas are permissible in our schools and, perhaps more to the point, what ideas are not. . . . It is not possible to divorce religion from education, just as it is not possible to extract common sense from the Warren Court's directive.

As for the sins committed by so-called Christians in the past, Hunter conveniently overlooks the atrocities of history's murderous atheists. Enamored of the cult of statism: Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot slaughtered tens of millions. The outrages of the Inquisitors and the Crusaders pale in comparison. Indeed, where has Hunter been all his life? Throughout history governments have been heavy-handedly challenging the religious "teachings of antiquity", requiring people to "produce their gods", and prohibiting them "from proclaiming" their existence. It is not religion that necessarily corrupts, but unrestrained governments that attempt to either incorporate religions or crush them. This is the real lesson of history.

Further, it is neither sensible nor scientific to hold the claims of religion to scientific standards of proof. The idea of God, for example, is not an empirical proposition.  D'oh!  It's a rational proposition regarding a transcendental potentiality, albeit, one that imposes itself upon our minds without us willing that it do so! Hence, the idea of God objectively exists in and of itself, and the atheist proves this every time he opens his mouth to deny God's existence. It is not unreasonable to conclude that God must be; it is unreasonable to flatly deny the existence of that which is indisputably possible. Science is a marvelous tool, but it's not an intellectual panacea. It can neither prove nor disprove the existence of the spiritual, let alone explore its potentialities.

Though religious superstitions may abound, religion persists—not because of man's superstitiousness, but because of the undeniable potentialities of human consciousness and the limitations of man's physical senses. While Hunter may confound the cause of religious speculation, he does not escape its demands any more than the rest of us do. He is merely an unwitting contributor to a peculiar body of religious mumbo-jumbo (atheism) and a pseudo practitioner of the scientific method.

"Religions claim to teach tolerance", he writes, "so why do they not want to tolerate criticism."  Really?  All religions teach tolerance? Hmm. Well, let this piece stand as a criticism of Hunter's religion, a dissension from the ridiculous tenets of his faith, such as it is.

* * * * * 

Religious 'tolerance' doesn't include dissent
By Scott Hunter

Religious freedom is a misnomer. There is no freedom within religions.

The few moderate churches are an exception, as most religions in the world are immersed in centuries-old traditions they refuse to change. Most religious authority is tyrannical and dictatorial, and dogma reigns absolute. The fundamentalists of all sects dominate religious discipline. Religions tolerate no dissenters, critics or disbelievers.

For many centuries, Christians exterminated those who believed in other religions or rejected Christianity. One only needs to read the history of the Christian pogroms against the Jews, the Spanish Inquisition and the Crusades, which were campaigns to annihilate Muslims and wipe out Jewish settlements along the way.

The first man to translate the Bible into English was slaughtered. Religious activists burned witches in Salem. Christian fundamentalists still assassinate those who disbelieve in their Bible (shooting abortion doctors), and Islamic clerics command the deaths of journalists and others who they believe insulted their beliefs.

Because of the separation of church and state in the United States, numerous sects and cults have risen, many of which were established to extract money from individuals under the guise of religion. And because of this separation, our government has been hesitant to get involved.

Although we supposedly have freedom of religion in this country, there is no freedom within religions nor is there freedom from religion. Many of our largest religious denominations are continually attempting to extend their religious beliefs into our schools and governments. Attempting to force prayer or the Ten Commandments into schools and government has nothing to do with schools or prayer. They are just brazen demands to solidify their religious beliefs into every aspect of society.

Religion may have served a purpose in society when the unknown included every part of life's existence and neither life, death nor disease was understood. But this is the 21st century, and it is now time to challenge the teachings of antiquity. The world is inundated with religious propaganda, and The Arizona Republic disseminates such misinformation in its weekly religious sections.

The media, in all fairness, should equally present both arguments for and against religions. Religions claim to teach tolerance, so why do they not want to tolerate criticism?

There have been tens of thousands of books written about religion. Many of these books attempt to explain, interpret or understand the ancient writings in the bibles of the world's religions. There have been millions of sermons, articles, booklets and magazines directed toward such interpretations. Dozens of men and women have created their own religions and have claimed that their god has spoken to them in person and that they have received special messages. Certainly, if the gods can appear and directly communicate with the man on an isolated mountaintop, they can appear again and address 50,000 of us in one of the major ballparks.

Thousands of years ago, when the original bibles were assembled, people already were demanding that religions produce their gods. The writers were intelligent enough to respond to this by placing God's appearance after death, in the distant future or demand "belief by faith."

These are times of show and tell. Religions should be required to actually produce their gods, angels and devils or be forever prohibited from proclaiming that there are such beings. It is ridiculous to continue the publishing of thousands of books whereby man will give us his interpretations. If gods will simply appear, we will need no further explanations. The gods should speak for themselves. I for one would enjoy listening to a debate among the various gods, where each is arguing as the only true God.
*Scott Hunter is former director of the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity, is a midlevel executive in corporate retailing and is chief executive officer of his own business.

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