Friday, November 13, 2009

Reprehensible, Religious, Repugnant

The Question of the Day for our public radio station was "What should the US do to promote religious tolerance at home." This is of course in response to the recent, apparently religiously motivated, shooting at Fort Hood. I thought that the question quite missed the point, but I was pleasantly surprised to note that most of the answers did not.

I wrote that religion enjoys an abundance of tolerance in the United States of America, to the point where it has become exempt from critical discussion and responsibility. Furthermore, tolerance between religions is fundamentally impossible as long as each declares itself to be the one true faith. And, if religious individuals want to make arguments based on faith, those arguments need to be subject to the same critical thinking and scrutiny as all arguments.

(I would add that this is especially true when those religious people are using religious arguments to influence public policy.)

Then today, on another blog, I read an exchange by two believers regarding lying: whether it was ever, ever OK to lie. The example used by the questioner was Nazi soldiers knocking on your door, looking for Jewish citizens, and you know where they are. The questioner thought this was clearly a time when you could, and probably should, lie.

Oh no no no no no.

Lying is 100% wrong, all the time, no matter the circumstances, according to the answer. He uses scripture to prove this, citing, among other things that the devil is the father of all lies. Lying to protect the lives of those Jewish people in hiding would be wrong wrong wrong because we are all sinners and are going to die sometime, anyway; how could we know what would really happen if we lied?; and... well, I'll let him sum up:

"Consider this carefully. In the situation of a Nazi beating on the door, we have assumed a lie would save a life, but really we don’t know. So, one would be opting to lie and disobey God without the certainty of saving a life—keeping in mind that all are ultimately condemned to die physically. Besides, whether one lied or not may not have stopped the Nazi solders from searching the house anyway."

Am I really supposed to tolerate this sort of reasoning?


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