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Doubt is good

September 4, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

Mark has an excellent post about the recent revelations about Mother Teresa’s faith over at PoM. Despite the typical unflappable certainty projected by many devout Christians, I’m sure doubt is common among them (they’re human, after all). As Mark says so well, Mother Teresa was oppressed not by belief, but by a need to belief. A belief in belief, as some say.

It does seem that that’s a stronger form of religious belief than simply belief itself. The belief that religious belief is necessary and good isn’t found only among the devout. It’s a belief harbored by those with vague or watered down beliefs or even no belief at all. Much of the objection to the onslaught of atheist books has come in the form of defending the usefulness or necessity of religion, rather than actually contradicting their arguments against religious belief. I fall somewhere in between. I think religion provides a lot of the social structures that our society needs and while I doubt pure atheism is a satisfactory alternative, the status quo is not good and something needs to replace it. Religion is currently too negative an influence on societal progress and cultural cooperation to leave as it is. Think of it as, to paraphrase the saying, making it small enough to drown in a bathtub, but forgoing the actual drowning. I don’t think I can hope for much more than a society of firmly moral (and willing to reexamine what that means) but wishy-washy Unitarian Universalists. And even that is unlikely.

I’m also going to point out how much I dislike believing that. For me, religion is an unnecessary false delusion, but for others it’s a necessary delusion. That’s quite arrogant and condescending, two traits I don’t think of myself as having (well, maybe condescending).

In any case, I must go play Bioshock. Who knew fighting genetically modified lunatics in an Objectivist dystopia would be so fun?

Categories: Religion
  1. Bob
    September 4, 2007 at 10:18 pm

    In my mid-teens, before my final break from culturally-induced “religion,” I attended (for a short while) a Unitarian-Universalist Church in Germantown, Pennsylvania. In physical form that particular facade (sic) was a “church” in every architectural way. (It was Episcopalian or Roman Catholic in that sense!) Each Sunday, however, a different “guest speaker” was presented, including such diverse intellectual luminaries as Alan Watts, Martin Buber and U.N. Secretary Dag Hammarschold…I loved it!

    When it came time to move on to post-teenage intellectual-physical adventures, I joked with some of the Unitarian-Universalist members that: “You seem to assemble here on a weekly basis to dispute among yourselves who believes the least about what it is you believe you are supposed to believe!” They all laughed. (Ha!)

    God-bless Mother-Teresa and her possibly ongoing Doubting-Thomas “Dark night of the soul!”

  2. September 7, 2007 at 8:18 am

    I attend the local UU service, and serve as treasurer. Much of the time I think to myself “silly liberals”, but they are a nice community with above-average IQ’s, great to be around. We drive past the zealot factory on 19th, that Bible Church, and I see hundreds of cars parked. We have 87 members. We suffer from no illusions about our importance.

  3. Lina
    September 9, 2007 at 7:42 pm

    Fucking hell, I read that “belief in belief” thing here. Well shit. Sorry.

  4. September 10, 2007 at 8:07 pm

    No worries. It’s not like I came up with it.

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