Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Our Beliefs Mirror Our Selves

I just wanted to repost a comment I made on Facebook, in regards to a discussion on Hell, its pointlessness, and whether or not religious people choose their own beliefs.  I personally thought a discussion on the pointlessness of Hell was a bit odd, as pointlessness would be one of the things that made it hell, but decided against making that point.  And yeah, you've been reduced to reading my second-hand Facebook postings.  Deal with it.

I don't think people pick or choose their religion any more than they choose which foods taste good to them. Nor do I think people accept religions as-is.

I think their religions are a mirror of themselves, and they see the parts that they want to see. The parts that make sense resonate with them, so that's what they focus on, while they ignore the rest. Authoritarians need authority they don't have, so their religion includes an all-powerful god that punishes dissenters forever. But it's not their religion that gave them the hell, it's their personalities which chose to adopt that part of the religion. And they only believe as far as it gives them power over those who don't listen to them.

Other Christians are confident enough to not require a vengeful god, so they don't really focus on that aspect of their religion. They're kind people who prefer a loving Jesus, so that's what their religion is to them. It's not that one group chooses Hell versus Love, it's just that they focus on the part that mirrors their own personality. A loving Christian has more in common with a Buddhist than they do an angry Christian, because it's not the religion that makes them this way. It's their personality that decides how they adopt their religion. I'm sure there are angry Buddhists too.  And there's a reason why some Christians say things that sound like they could have come from the Taliban.  Yes, they're citing religious texts, but it's not the religion talking.

And that's what we all do. We all seek those things which resonate with us and fit our identity. We see what we want to see. And as long as we realize that we're doing this and train ourselves to know what truly makes us happy, this isn't a problem. It's only a problem when we don't know what we really want, or try to force our preferences on to others. There is an objective reality out there, but until we understand what our biases are, we'll never really see the whole thing.

4 comments:

ex DLB said...

I blame Al Gore entirely for the rise of neo-druidism.

Betsy said...

Could it be that I think you're so smart because I agree with nearly everything you say? I guess I see a reflection of my attitudes in you. However lest you worry, it won't make me give up on you, just try to learn something when we differ.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Betsy - I'd say that the reason you think I'm so smart is because you're so smart. It takes one to know one.

Betsy said...

There, you see why I think you're so smart?