Friday, February 02, 2007

So where exactly was that long-winded thread going? you might ask, and it would be a good question because I'm not sure I know now that it's all typed out.  It ended up going an entirely different way than expected.  But here is where I was going at the outset.

When it started, I was headed towards something like this: it's nearly impossible to intelligently discuss religion or religious people if you make generalizations, because the variations are infinite, even among people who say they believe the same thing. (which is, of course, a generalization, but I will proceed anyway). I know conservatives who are pro-choice; I know Democrats who have moral standards that are like something out of the Victorian era. I know conservative Christians who have no problem with evolution. I was raised as an Evangelical, but even in the days when I was most vehemently Evangelical, I still believed quite firmly in the separation of church and state, and I've never seen the point of prayer in the schools. And the converse of each of those statements are all generalizations I've heard or read in the last couple of weeks as the lead-in to a lengthy discussion about "those" types of people.

Here's my theory. None of us can take in the totality of the infinite amount of data around us at every moment. If there is an infinite being out there, the human mind will never fully comprehend it. So we choose a way of seeing our experience that helps us understand it. It's like walking outside on an extremely bright and sunny day. You reach for your sunglasses. Maybe you like the blue-blockers, maybe you want polarized, maybe you prefer a pink tinge. Or maybe you don't like sunglasses and you have to squint against the glare so you don't see as much. Whatever.

We all filter our experience somehow. a way of looking at the world that helps us make sense of what we perceive. We're probably unaware of our most basic assumptions because we breathed them in with our first breath. Others we take on by choice or training as time goes by. Religion is one of those filters; it helps us make sense of the world around us. It can be a crutch, of course, if it keeps you from thinking or leads you to make false conclusions. But it can also be a legitimate way of trying to understand certain phenomena that science doesn't explain very well. And to claim that science doesn't have its own set of biases is just silly. maybe over time those who hold to a scientific worldview do a better job of discarding outmoded ideas and accepting new ones based on better data. But there's plenty of evidence that even brilliant scientists have a hard time with that-- check out Einstein and quantum mechanics, to name just one.

So no matter what your point of view, you can't take it too seriously-- it's just a filter, like everyone else's. You've found one that works well for you, great. But it's not perfect, and it's not the only way to look at things. (Which would preclude fundamentalism, if only they'd just listen to me, dang it.)

more later, the battery's dead.

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