Saturday, March 6, 2010

When faith and reason as perceived by their defenders both fail us

This book is speaking me to me so strongly about matters that concern me I am going to start reviewing it when I am only half way into it. What I am reading now is the history as perceived by the author about the origins of early Christianity. I did have to laugh at how many times interpretations of Christ's nature changed with each ruler who would dictate which one must stand during his rule to keep the Christians from warring with each other constantly. I had to laugh at one historian of the times who said that the Christians were in greater danger from each other than from anyone else they disputed the nature of Christ's being so heatedly among themselves. Another historian commented on their obsessions, "If you ask for change, the man launches into a theological discussion about the begotten and the unbegotten; if you enquire about the price of bread, the answer is given that the Father is greater: and the Son subordinate: if you remark that the bath is nice, the attendant announces that the Son is from non-existence."
Reading this far I now understand why I was so confused when I investigated Christian churches once I left the Mormon church about what was really believed about Christ. The Mormons were so busy defending Joseph Smith's revelations they hardly had time or energy to pay attention to what Christ was all about.
Well, back when the Christian church was just developing there were a great many theories about exactly how Christ was the son of God. There is a quote in this book that says, "But What I Wish, That Must Be the Canon" seeming to indicate that the ruler would pick and choose what interpretation to go with during his reign, and if he were to die quite suddenly, another ruler who thought entirely differently might come along and go in another direction.
Well, it seems today in our country that religion has once again fallen into disrepute with the rise of 'secular' thinkers who would get religion out of government and a greater separation of church and state. They would seem to think that there has been far too much of a religious presence in our schools.
When in doubt I always resort to common sense, for this would seem to be why we have inherited the power of reason. Charles Freeman, the author of this book The Closing of the Western Mind seems to think that as faith is more esteemed reason falls. I would say that is very often the case when the church thinkers start making claims about the Godhead they cannot prove.
But what if those who believe in the power of reason also promote beliefs that most people would not regard as reasonable. Such is the case made for legalized abortion. I have heard many reasons from abortion advocates as to why this solution to a problem pregnancy might be repugnant to some but makes sense in even the most civilized of countries to keep the unwanted population down and people not bearing children they cannot take care of.
Everyone puts forth reasons they think are sound for a procedure they think should be every woman's right to secure, a legal abortion.
Others passionately disagree, including myself. Right from the beginning, I felt that the thinking coming from abortion advocates only half way justified this drastic measure. But those of us trying to defend our objections, mostly seeming to come from the religious camps, could not seem to state our reasoning clear and strong enough to impress the naysayers.
Maybe because in churches people down through the centuries have continued to keep themselves busy interpreting the nature of Jesus, the Godhead or the Trinity, etc, to their meetings, but might I say that whatever conclusions they come to about the nature of Christ may not make as much impact on the earth as 48 million abortions a year. It is a pleasant preoccupation for some to contemplate the nature of Christ and the heaven he may now inhabit, but nobody can really prove that anyone's interpretation is wrong or right. The answers pretty much seem subjective to me.
However, the astronomical numbers of abortions now being done worldwide would I say constitute a real emergency that anyone who calls themselves religious needs to address.
Christianity has been a powerful influence down through the ages, but threatens to be powerless to stop the expansion of abortion. Right now in Congress the biggest fight over abortion since it was legalized is going on. Can abortion advocates including the President and democrat leaders push through government funding for abortion with a health care plan? This will surely result in the biggest expansion of abortion since Roe vs Wade.
So what is wrong, is the thinking more flawed among those who would stop it than the thinking of those who believe every woman should have the right to an abortion?
It looks as though all the Christian churches must take stock of their abilities to influence and see why they are having such a tough time to contain the purveyors of death to the innocent fetus.
Now I think that we all die and we all may have a spirit that leaves the body once it shows no more sign of life. But as the nature of God is hard to prove, so is the existence of a spirit. So my solution has always been to work on trying to prove there is a spirit, but at the same time, to study what we can see. Deal with that. Deal with reality you might say, that is what everyone can agree on is the here and now. In a few words, get our heads out of the clouds and address the problems on this earth that you might say have led to the demands for abortion.

I really don't think there was such a great demand for abortion as there were powerful people who thought this was the solution, for one thing, for the inability of the poor to control reproduction resulting in a larger welfare state, unwanted and abandoned children, abused children, increased poverty, uneducated, etc. I think that some of these thinkers grew to hate the welfare state so badly that they were not above tempting the poor to get rid of their children before ever bringing them into a world that did not want them.
Abortion in communist countries was promoted by dictators like Mao who also were responsible for killing a great many of the adult populace. The killing of anybody for the good of all always requires a certain amount of ruthlessness of the leaders. So what resulted were not just desperate women seeking an illegal abortion now able to get one but the inevitable propaganda printed in pro choice newspapers and magazines that would tempt women to get abortions for almost any reason. This is the kind of propaganda that I so strongly protested. This was preaching the philosophy of killing for not good reasons.
This was not promoting control of the sexual activities that result in unwanted pregnancies, it was offering abortion as a solution for any loss of control, which is inevitably going to happen if abortion is offered at all.
Abstinence, birth control, all those methods used before legalized abortion to control unwanted pregnancies were going to seem far too feeble now. Which is why abortion numbers rose to far more than could possibly have ever been aborted in times when it was illegal.
Well, presumably the welfare rolls diminished. But I thought with such a change in the regard of the sacredness of life, child abuse would increase instead of diminish. If it is okay to kill a child up to 9 months in the womb, some ruthless people were not going to worry as much about killing one after. The country has entered an era where little adorable nearly full term babies could be ruthlessly torn apart by a Dr. Tiller notorious for late term abortions nobody else wanted to do who was said to have killed at least 65,000 children, many of them late term! All LEGAL.
So it looked to me like the Christians have been having a very tough time dealing with these ugly facts, just wrapping their minds around them enough to enter the fight to contain abortion. Well, maybe because too much time had been spent talking about heaven, a place we cannot really perceive with what senses we have developed, when we can acquaint ourselves with what the abortion mills are doing, a business our government also seeks to provide with stimulus funds because business has been bad for them in the recession, too.
It looks like we need to concentrate on trying to do something about trends we do not want to keep accelerating in this country, more and more abortions. Looks like we will need more dialogue, more debate, we will need to protest to pro choice newspaper owners that they need to open their pages back up to this dialogue that they so ruthlessly closed down when the media went pro choice.
I see Christianity as producing sleeping giants who could be very powerful if they would just wake up and try to deal with the dangers at hand instead of concentrating on fantasies of heaven and the fine points of the Trinity they can't prove. Anyway, our business while we live are problems on this earth. However unpleasant, we need to think about them. To me Christ was the most valuable when he was on earth offering wisdom and insight into how to deal with the violence and wrong doing we encounter in our daily lives.

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