It’s been some time since my last blog. I apologize to all those who have been waiting. It’s been an interesting time, which included a computer meltdown, a windstorm that damaged my home and destroyed my son’s, and, most recently, the birth of another grandchild. This grandparent gig is great: everyone congratulates you, and you don’t have to do anything but enjoy!
Recently I’ve noted a number of sources talking about the polarization of the advanced world. Whereas before nearly everyone professed religion, and tensions arose between religious groups– Protestant v. Catholic, Christian v. Muslim, etc — today the tension is between those who espouse religion, and those who espouse none.
For the purposes of my discussion, I will include those who claim to be Christian, for example, but avoid association with actual churches or denominations, for example, among the irreligious. That’s because I hear them say things like “all churches are corrupt,” or “no church or denomination personifies the gospel as I understand it.”
Although I see more people claiming to be explicitly atheist, these numbers are still quite small. By contrast, the large and growing group are those who are “spiritual, but not religious.”
As I explore further, what I find is this. Most of these individuals do not wish to associate themselves with any organized religious body, and thus qualify as irreligious. However, I’ve never met or seen or read about anyone who was strictly “irreligious” when it comes to a matter of a belief system And just so I’m clear, I include people who claim not to ever act on faith, but are strictly logical and rational.
On closer examination, these individuals always, in ever case, without any exception, have dogmatic beliefs somewhere, that is, beliefs which can not be proven, tested, and which are unfalsifiable. That last condition, unfalsifiable, is one which believers in science hurl at the religious, especially those who believe in a six day creation.
Science, they will tell you, is true because contrary evidence is considered: science is true because whatever is not true is found false.
Another jibe at people of faith is that “the Bible can be made to say whatever you want it to,” whereas “science is based on facts.”
A recent case of this was cited on Adventist Today, where someone who is “no longer and Adventist” lists the following reasons.
- “I cannot be a recent creationist and remain sane: the evidence is just far too overwhelming in the direction of evolution and long time spans.”
- Gay people need to love and be loved, get married, be included as full members of the community.
- Caring for the poor is a massive thrust of the whole Bible and of Jesus (sheep and the goats has nothing at all to do with denominational identification, in fact says it ‘won’t save you if you don’t help the poor) yet I see here again and again how ‘Christians’ want to side with the rich and clutch their possessions and demonise the poor.
- [W]hen I was in church while Israel was bombing the life out of the Palestinian settlements and heard prays from the front ‘Lord be with your people Israel’, I just about exploded. People are people, whether they’re on the ‘right’ side or not, and again, it’s the oppressed, not the oppressors, we’re called on to help.
- The glee for the destruction of the earth exhibited by…Christians. The job God gave us in Eden (metaphorically) was stewardship of the earth, but burning it all down as quickly as possible seems almost to be doctrine these days.
- Ellen White has some great stuff and some abysmal stuff. Sadly those who use her as a club tend to focus on the latter. Maybe those are my doctrinal differences. But most of them are more cultural than doctrinal (though some struggle with that distinction). But they’re the reasons. By all means decide they’re bad reasons ‘for you’, but you don’t get to decide whether my reasons are good ‘for me.’
It is not my purpose here to take up each point in detail (although if anyone cares I can be persuaded to later), but merely to point out the following: this person has rejected what he perceives to be “Adventist” values as unworthy of his adherence. Although he does not claim to be irreligious, it makes no difference, because the irreligious make exactly the same type of claim. They reject what they see as unworthy values and beliefs. What they rarely specify, usually because they are unaware of it, is what system of values and beliefs they are using to evaluate the ones they reject.
In another blog, I’ll look at his reasons, but for now I’ll just say this: They don’t state the system of values they are using because 1) It’s usually more emotional than systematic, and 2) there is no system–it’s just a bunch of things they believe uncritically. Oh, yes, I said uncritically. And that is not a bad definition for dogma.