Be Ye Not As Jerks Dept.

God and Ultraman | Hardcore Zen

We can learn to understand that just because someone doesn’t believe in God or Buddha, they’re not necessarily a bad person. We can also learn to understand that just because someone does believe in God or Buddha they’re not necessarily an idiot.

This is a splendid distillation of a position I've been working my way towards for a long time now. Belief or nonbelief isn't absolutely correlated with good behavior; it's all in how you use it. If you use it to build bridges with fellow men, it doesn't matter if your last name is Sagan or Merton.

One of the arguments I hear around this goes something like so: Well, that's all well and good, but let's face it — it's the Bible-thumpers who are far, far more of a menace to an open society than the militant atheists. I agree, up to a point. I think the encroachment of religion into public life is dangerous and should be taken seriously; I also think the militant-atheist position of intolerance is dangerous in its own way. There's nothing that says I can't manifest a concern about both of them.

All right (some will say), but which one presents the most pressing and urgent problem? Well, says I, that depends on the context. The Bible-thumpers are typically the ones who make trouble in the realm of policy-setting; the militant-atheists are the ones who make trouble in the realm of civil discourse. The former is generally more normative than the latter, but again, that doesn't mean the latter deserves a free pass. It is entirely possible to give both of them the proper priority without having to pretend attention to one must be deprecated to give attention to the other.

Final note: Most of what any belief system or moral/ethical framework professes can be boiled down to "Please don't be a jerk." How you go about not being a jerk is the harder part, and that's when we get into the realm of everyone thinking they have a monopoly on the best way to do that. There may not be a single best way, and so the only real answer that works is to encourage people to lean as best they can in that direction, in their own ways.

Tags: Buddhism Zen belief psychology religion science sociology

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This page contains a single entry by Serdar Yegulalp in the category Uncategorized / General, published on 2016/07/20 08:00.

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