Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Does God Pick and Choose?

John W. Loftus published a set of articles by various authors under the title of The Christian Delusion.  One of these articles was authored by Valerie Tarcia, PhD called Christian Belief Through the Lens of Cognitive Science.  In case you're wondering, Wikipedia describes cognitive science as, "the interdisciplinary scientific study of the mind and its processes."  Under the heading, "So You Think You're Rational," Valerie asks the question, "How can tourists who've escaped a hurricane or plane crash believe that a god intervened while letting others drown or burn?"

Valerie's question reminds me of the tragic event that happened in Newtown, Connecticut.  A quote from one of the articles written at the time said, "It was a very emotional scene, as parents wrapped their arms around their children, thanking God that their little one's had survived this awful tragedy."  Upon reading that I remember thinking, "What a horrible thing to do.  What about the children who didn't survive?  Did God just randomly pick and choose the fortunate few or were those who survived somehow more worthy of God's intervention than those who perished that day?"  It amazes me the way people think.

To continue to quote Valerie Tarcia's article:
"As we learn more about the human mind, even the outrages of religious beliefs become more understandable.  We humans are only partly rational.  Bias is our default setting, and most of the distortions happen below the level of conscious awareness.  Understanding this may let us be a little more sympathetic toward otherwise smart, decent people that hold beliefs that make us cringe. 
"Christianity is a religion of beliefs.  There is no one Christian religion.  In fact there are over 38,000 sects and denominations that call themselves Christian.  Moreover each calls the way they believe, "The Truth."  They agree that there is only one Truth, but they are quick to follow that the way they believe is the correct Truth.
"This is not something new.  Christianity started as a small Jewish sect, competing for members with orthodox Jews and other sects such as the Essene and Zealot factions.  As Paul spread Christianity to non-Jews, the message got garbled and in 1054 saw the Eastern Orthodox church split from the Latin church in Rome.  By the late 14th, early 15th century, the Roman church actually had three different popes, all claiming to be the correct form of Christianity.  The church continued to spit out schisms, including the Albigernism/Cathar, Huguenot, and Hussite movements, the response to which was the establishment of an Inquisition to root out and destroy these heretics.  
"Christianity underwent another irreparable rupture with Martin Luther's Protestantism, which spawned countless imitators and competitors, such as Calvinists, Baptists, Quakers, Methodists, and so on.  Christianity, if it ever was united (and it wasn't), became forever divided.  The immediate result of these divisions was fratricidal war between the sects which has continued into our own time."
I could go on and on about this but it would do no good.  These are educated people that hold these beliefs. Many are college educated, lawyers, doctors, engineers and so forth.  All of them have good intentions.  But all of them will hold steadfast to their beliefs no matter who they offend or how wrong they may prove to be. And they all look to the same Bible to prove their beliefs.

- Y

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