Comments: A Very Sad Case, II

Thanks for the link. :-)

My problem isn't so much that your beliefs are a slap in my face, per se. As I've said on many occasions, I do belive in God, and I believe in one's right to one's belief in one's own deity (or lack thereof). I don't however, feel that everyone should be subjected to one mode of belief or another by the government. There's no place, and no purpose. Keeping all mention of God and religion does NOTHING to harm one's ability to worship as one pleases. Having the opposite be true fosters an environement where one gets an email that advocates silencing the religious minorty in this country. Everyone should feel free to worship the way one chooses, and everyone should be free from having others' beliefs crammed down their throats.

Posted by Geoff Brown at July 16, 2003 12:22 AM

See, now that's funny Geoff, I do consider myself a bright, I still like the meme, and am even in contact with the-brights.com folks to help them revise their FAQ to help them address the many criticisms I've seen--and yet, I have not the least bit of fear of government mentioning God or religion, and am rather offended by efforts of people to force them to stop.

Funny how people are, eh?

Posted by Dean Esmay at July 16, 2003 12:30 AM

Dean and Geoff:

I agree with both of you! As an atheist, I'd just as soon not see the government appear to endorse one spiritual belief over another, and there are clearly cases where the courts have rightly prohibited such efforts.

But the fact remains, and this is FACT, that western civilization is built on monotheistic ideologies and traditions. No person in western society can be considered to be well educated without a functioning knowledge of the bible and the cultural impact of Judaism and Christianity. So to suggest that this vital aspect of our heritage should be expunged from civic discourse is, for me, anti-intellectual.

Should the phrase "under God" be deleted from the Pledge? Technically,I believe it should, but only because it was not part of the original wording, and because the history of it's addition demonstrates an unacceptable infusion of a specific religious ideology. Had it been a part of the Pledge from the start, and thus a significant reference to historical identity, I believe that there would be no case at all for removing it.

Practically, however, the Pledge in it's "under God" form has come to represent, for most citizens, part of the theistic heritage of our nation. Seen as a reflection of that monotheistic history, it doesn't particularly annoy me on a personal level. I would not sue to protect my child from it. I would simply explain to them the reasons that it is included, and instruct them to skip those words if they so desired. But, were they to come under pressure from school officials to speak the words that they didn't believe in, I'd go to war with the school district with everything I had. Peer pressure is irrelevent in this case, as it is beyond the responsibility of the government to control the behavior of school children.

Of course, not all monotheists are as evolved (wink wink) as our young scholar Mr. Kepple is, and there exists an intolerance from the religious Right in this country that is just as ignorant and arrogant as the efforts of the Brights. And since the majority of our citizens are monotheists, it is the responsibility of our government and it's laws to respect and protect the minority. History shows that our courts are usually up to this challenge, but if the rhetoric of our political and religious leaders were more tolerant, perhaps there would be no perceived need for such as the Brights.

Posted by Brian Linse at July 16, 2003 01:08 AM

Very much so. I guess fear isn't so much the word, as the days when Catholics (a group to which I formerly belonged) were violently discriminated against passed along with my grandparents' childhoods. I have no problem with PEOPLE advancing government, but I do have a problem with government doing so. One need look not much further than certain nations in the Middle East to see why that might be.

Posted by Geoff Brown at July 16, 2003 01:09 AM

What ever your relationship is with God, just make sure it's yours. I work really hard at my own personal relationship with God. It ain't easy. I tend to get all demanding, pissy and bratty. Usually, God is patient and loving, let's me carry on, then swats me on the rear enough to get my attention.
As to whether I need to be a literal reader of the Bible, well, sorry, ain't going to happen. Am I going to look for the wisdom of God in the Bible. Yes. I will look wherever there is God's work. For in that work will be God's wisdom. Since all on this planet are of God's work, there I will look, no matter how unlikely a place it may seem.

Posted by Rook at July 17, 2003 12:29 AM

I have always prefered the gnostic view of hell. You're in it right now. If you do your best and work hard at becoming closer to God you become part of the godhead when you die. If not you get to stay on earth and try again until you get it right.

The horrific vision of hell came from Zorastrianism and was included in dogma after the establishment of the church to scare people to be pious (and give money natch).

Posted by Andrew Ian Dodge at July 17, 2003 01:31 PM

I don't know that anyone's still reading this, but I do want to make something clear:

I like "bright" because I think it's cute, and funny. I still also see it as an opportunity for one group of non-theists to come to grips with the fact that there are other theists who do not share their fear or hostility toward the faithful. I'm very much in agreement with Brian Linse.

I guess this is why I've been so charmed about this thing from the start, and why I'm so disappointed at the fiercely negative reactions by so many--including so many non-theistic persons.

I suppose Dennett and Dawkins are mostly to blame for being so confounded arrogant. Then again, I've shared my concerns with the people at the-brights.net and they have been extremely positive about it. So far, anyway.

We'll see what comes.

Posted by Dean Esmay at July 19, 2003 08:31 AM

Dean:
Good to hear that the folks over at The Brights are open to the criticisms. But I think, in the end, that the name is gonna be the real problem. I've just realized another aspect of it that bothers me: it's cult-like. A hallmark of cult thinking is the appropriation of words that are then given new meaning. There is a creepy factor at work here beyond the implied insult to theists.

Let us know what you hear from them.

Posted by Brian Linse at July 19, 2003 07:20 PM