Over at Delphi Forum’s Poll Vault we’ve been having an interesting discussion about the most dangerous idea in religion is prompted by an article in the Atlantic Journal-Constitution titled “Faith and Values: What’s the Most Dangerous Idea In Religion: Violence in the name of God; follow our rules or else; my religion is right; converting others to your religion; or a tribal view of God.
Interestingly enough on July 2nd a Madison Bloggerwriting in Fearful Symmetries gave a review of Jesus Camp, which touches on all of these issues, in my opinion, although he didn’t label it as such and he also mentioned the Georgia Governor’s call for prayer for rain this week, which was also disscussed at the Poll Vault. My friend MerlinsDad is from Atlanta and started both of these discussions.
We’re both secular humanists and atheists. I describe myself as more of an agnostic atheist because I don’t completely discount the possibility that there is a god. I highly doubt it and I certainly don’t believe in any of the gods I’ve been introduced to up to this point but there is always the possibility there might be a creative power greater than nature. Merlin might actually feel the same but we really haven’t discussed it all that closely. The odd thing here is that we discovered that we grew up going to the same strange little fundamentalist sect that originated in the Ohio Valley in the 1800s. Our several great Grandparents ago might even have known each other back in Illinois before mine went west and his headed east.
What’s different is that , I consider myself a recovering fundamentalist. I have ISSUES and Merlin doesn’tTo further the coinkydinks in this little series the featured Blog on WordPress today was “Don’t ask me to read your Holy Book.” in a Blog titled deconversion. Sooo I feel compelled, almost directed by the powers that be (HA!) to write about how a small town girl raised in THE Christian Church on the plains of Nebraska, baptized in the Little Blue River by full immersion at the Pible (actually I don’t know that it was spelled that way but that’s the way it was pronounced. I don’t recall ever seeing it written out though I must have.) Bible Church Camp who ended up a full fledged atheist feels about the question “What is the most dangerous idea in religion?”
My answer would be the notion of the tribal God. The belief that we are the chosen people who have been put here on earth specifically to do God’s will. This idea promotes the adoption and abuses of all the other ideas. It lends itself to the dehumanization of people who are not a member of your specific tribe or who are not willing to become a member of your tribe through the adoption of your religious beliefs and the worship your God.
It’s ever so much easier to kill people who are not members of your tribe. People you have dismissed as less worthy of your empathy and respect. People you have already deemed damned to eternal perdition because they have not made the right choices in deities. People your God would call an enemy
Unfortunately I believe that most if not all of American Christian churches teach this if not outright from the pulpit on Sunday morning then certainly by implication. Try reading the Old Testament of the Bible all the way through. There is plenty of blood and gore about the enemies of the Lord and don’t give me any guff about that merely being history. It’s only history when it isn’t pretty.
But then most other religions. have this tribal view of their Gods because after all they were invented by tribal men and women who needed a way to explain their world view. What was going on in their lives. Why things were the way they were. Where did they come from and where were they going.
So now all the tribes are really big and we have instant communication and nuclear bombs. And oil. No wait, the Muslims have the oil. We want it. Do you see where I’m going with this?