Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4 Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
The aspersions cast on organized religion, people of religious faith and a theistic philosophy toward the universe and humanity within it by D. Miller (“More religion not the answer,”May 28) and Brkic Sulejman (“Starting over again,” June 11) are vacuous folly.
If we launched the experiment that Sulejman suggests - starting our civilization over again with children unconditioned by cultural baggage - then of course they would “invent God all over again.” Or rather, deity would manifest itself once again through the God-shaped hole in the human psyche.
In a world where educated, sophisticated people everywhere are working to end all manner of discrimination and prejudice - against women, people of color, different sexual orientations, as well as the older discriminations against people of certain ethnicity and political belief - it is disappointing to see that attacks against traditional religion have become the last bastion of tolerated discrimination and contempt. I suppose the popular opinion is that traditional organized religion, such as Christianity, is more than adequately discredited by its own history - superstitious nonsense in this age of science. It has become criminally inappropriate to lambaste homosexuality, but church-going “fools” are more than fair game. That is sad.
To acknowledge what Miller observes, there is a lot of bad religion out there. There always has been, and there always will be. The mixture of bad religion with plain old human stupidity makes for a truly volatile recipe, and that should be to the discredit of stupid people, not to the discredit of God.
Published on Wednesday, June 21, 2000 as “Good vs. bad religion.”
First, I believe in God and I think that religious belief IS rational. Second, I think that this whole religion vs. science schism really doesn’t exist at all. It’s not rational. It’s contrived. Third, the debate as it is contrived by those who do not endorse religion effectively changes the debate by slanting the public’s understanding of what religion is, what God is, etc. That means that the religious have failed in their public relations and allowed their opponents to control and define the debate, to their disadvantage and, I think, to the disadvantage of the argument. So what we have now is a public that does not really know what it thinks it knows. Or, saying it another way, the public doesn’t really know and understand anything properly at all, which can be said to be the common condition of Mankind anyway. So what’s the difference? The difference is that now people take themselves so damned seriously! I mean, if people took themselves less seriously they would be more open to the suggestion that they don’t know some things and that some things they don’t know that they don’t know, which should reasonably limit their readiness to try to talk about it. But as it is, too many people too eagerly dive into topics that they ought to know better than to try to indulge.
Good religion means good people. Good people means intelligent people. I have written before that I think human beings can be said to have a moral obligation to be intelligent (an idea I take from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.), meaning that immorality and evil are practically synonymous with stupidity. I certainly think that in any kind of world with human beings in it, if organized religion were erased so that we could “start again” we would naturally make religion again. God’s revelation of himself is progressive.