Dogma experiment yields results
I don’t usually like to address a topic in consecutive weeks or letters to the editor, but that was my plan when I wrote last week’s column, so here we are.
You may recall I was discussing the rambunctious nature of local atheists and others in challenging even vague references to religion in the public square.
I discussed it in regard to a recent incident in which District 51 students were shown a presentation with religious overtones. I was also pretty clear that I don’t believe proselytizing of any nature — particularly addressing religious, or for that matter political belief — is the function of a public school system.
My main query was simple: If one roots out all religious teachings and the fruits of that poisonous tree from our governing principles, what should one use to circumscribe acceptable human behavior? I also added a humorous aside referencing global warming as dogmatic to test a theory. Then I waited.
As expected, many of the responses were aggrieved, ad hominem attacks, most of which rephrased my statements to fit their arguments. They also were dogmatic, which was part of the experiment.
The theory I wanted to test was that closely held belief systems and their implementation by those who profess to have no religious inclinations, are practically identical to the rigid and reactionary portions of organized religion, about which those same non-religious persons complain.
Dogma, of any sort, is generally defined as “a belief or set of beliefs that is accepted by the members of a group without being questioned or doubted.” The corollary to this is that one can usually verify the existence of dogmatic people by their inflexibility, reactionary responses to challenges and — let’s face it — being none too nice to the challenger.
I would have to say, that the use of a global warming hypothesis to regulate most human behavior and the selling of carbon credits to offset one’s carbon-inducing transgressions, certainly sounds similar to the Catholic Church trying to control everyone’s behavior in the 16th century and selling indulgences to those wealthy enough to opt out for their sin. Current warming proponents certainly are reactionary to those challenging the assumption. Perhaps present-day non-warmists are a shade of modern Martin Luthers.
For instance, a letter submitted to The Daily Sentinel concerning my column indicated that: I don’t understand science, I hate science and I fear science. This is outrageous, considering that I have a long-standing subscription to both Popular Science and Popular Mechanics, which should be the last word on the matter.
All this pole vaulting to conclusions about a person and his education, of which someone knows very little, is exactly what I’m talking about.
Another writer was more creative in decrying that I was belittling, among others, “‘foreign gods,’ the Zhou dynasty, communism and totalitarianism.” This thinking is thought to be a reason that artists and young people are not moving here in larger numbers. I will take a moment to promote all Zhou dynasty enthusiasts to live in the area. It’s safe for you here.
This writer did attempt to define some things, other than what she thought were religious teachings, to base behaviors upon. These included, “Don’t lie, slander, gossip or deceive. Give everyone a chance to talk. Show a kindly regard for the welfare of others.” Gee, I wonder from where those principles originally sprang? Oddly, I didn’t get a feeling of kindly regard for the welfare of others concerning myself from the letter. Perhaps I missed it.
None of those ideas sprang full-blown out of a Hobbesian universe and are not necessarily universally held. Some followers of Islam, for instance, believe it is perfectly acceptable to not be truthful or honor promises made to nonbelievers.
The point is it seems as though many see heresy from those challenging even non-faith-based beliefs. Let’s be honest: The reactions are often the same from the dedicated Marxist or zealous global warming advocate as those of a holder of what they believe to be the one true faith. The human soul wants something bigger than itself to hold onto.
Just admitting many of our ideas are rooted in Judeo-Christian teachings doesn’t hurt anyone or make him or her a Christian — maybe just not dogmatic.
Rick Wagner write more on politics on his blog, The War on Wrong.