Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Inaugural post


Jewish date:  26 ’Elul 5769.
Today’s holiday:  Our Lady of Sorrows.
Worthy cause of the day:  “ColorOfChange.org:  Help us hold the line:  All major advertisers have left Beck:  Help us keep them from returning” and “Divided We Fail:  Real people, real stories”.  (I am a religious man, and it is commonly considered the duty of religious people to worry about people.)

Welcome to the inaugural post of Divine Misconceptions, the blog which looks at religious fallacies and misinformation and an aid to me writing a book on the subject.  Formerly such material had a home at my other blog, Weird thing of the day, but intuition insisted that that blog was spreading itself over too wide a range of topics.  Now on with today’s dose of religious fallacies and misconceptions from across the Internet.

Topic 1:  “Kids send Marcus the lamb to slaughter”:  Thus is it written:
A group of schoolchildren who reared a lamb from birth and named it Marcus has overridden objections by parents and rights activists and voted to send the animal to slaughter.
This is not strictly a religious issue, but it is a moral/ethical one, and morality and ethics frequently overlap with religion.  The children in question were studying farming, and as part of the project they raised a lamb (among other animals), and they decided to cull the lamb and use the proceeds to buy pigs.  And somehow this made a lot of people very mad, and yet there is a strange inconsistency to this anger.  Most of us eat meat and make use of leather, even though neither is strictly necessary for life; thus most of us in one way or another contribute to the killing of animals, including cute, furry animals like Murray the Lamb.  Most of this slaughter happens without anyone except vegans or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals noticing or even caring.  Most of us, therefore, did what these children did, and yet we complain when these children copy us.  The only difference is that the children did it deliberately, and the rest of us ordered hamburgers and let a company decide that a cow would die.  For the sake of consistency, all the protesters should consider setting a good example by becoming vegans.

Topic 2:  “Saving Anthony” and “Reading Nature and Reading Scripture”:  These are evangelical Christian articles warning against inflexible theology.  Obviously not everything in a revealed religion is up for grabs; there is material handed down all the way back to the beginning.  But the amount of information that is handed down is always finite, so rather than there being just a single, crystal-clear theology possible, there is always a sizable range of possibilities.  It therefore makes no sense to jump to the conclusion that one’s religion is wrong if one discovers that one’s favored theology is wrong, since there may be other possible theologies which are still viable.  Only when the data is inconsistent with all of a religion’s possible theologies can it be legitimately be considered disproved.  So if one discovers potential problems with one’s theologies, the first thing to do is DON’T PANIC!