reply to post by OzWeatherman
First let me thank The Vagabond and other moderators for the wonderful topics and hard work on putting this together. Next, let me say thank you for
allowing a rookie like me to participate in the “senior” tournament. Lastly, I am genuinely thrilled to have Ozweatherman as my opponent!!
I do not debate the negative side of this argument lightly. It is with sad heart and heavy mind that I reluctantly point out the past, the present,
and the future of humankind and our religious struggles. It is easy to be a fan of the opposite side of this debate. I, myself, would love to
believe that there is a peaceful reconciliation possible in the not too distant future. I hope Ozweatherman can convince all of us that this dream is
a reality. Unfortunately history and reason, show this peaceful reconciliation to be impossible. I will argue, with history and reason as my tools,
but I am not a fan of war and strife, and I am not a critic of religion, I am only pointing out the sad truths of our human situation.
Let me now get to the meat of this Opening Statement.
We are not just discussing Religions here. We are discussing “Religious Ideologies.” The difference is important, because an “Ideology” has
inched into every facet of a civilization’s existence. An ideology is important to the very survival of the civilization. It affects governments,
economies, foreign affairs, communities, and families. I will show that a “Religious Ideology” is an irrational devotion to a supernatural deity
that serves as a mechanism to build and control a civilization. That “irrational devotion” and the belief that it is necessary for the survival
of one’s civilization makes it impossible to reconcile with any competing belief. It becomes so much a part of a civilization that it becomes
unquestionable as a matter of “truth” and any deviation from that belief is heresay! It becomes dangerous to the individual and the society as a
whole to begin to doubt the truth of their belief system, and any amount of compromise or quarter is the beginning of the end for that civilization.
Therefore, compromise between competing Religious Ideologies is, and always will be IMPOSSIBLE.
Let me first define “Ideology”, for my purposes, and then define “Religion,” and it will become clear that a reconciliation or any resemblance
of peace between religious ideologies is impossible.
David W. Minar describes … different ways in which the word "ideology" has been used:
1. As meaning, whose purpose is persuasion; and
2. As the locus of social interaction.
For Willard A. Mullins, an ideology is composed of four basic characteristics:
1. it must have power over cognition
2. it must be capable of guiding one's evaluations;
3. it must provide guidance towards action;
4. and, as stated above, must be logically coherent.
Summarizing for my purposes in this debate, an “Ideology” is a collection of ideas with some logically coherent structure that plays a
sociological role in society. It must be “persuasive” and it must form the “locus” of social interaction in that society. It must also have
“powers over cognition.” The ideas are typically proposed by the dominant
class and adhered or conformed to by the lesser classes
fighting for roles within the society. By such a definition we can see that competing ideologies are also competing in a hierarchy of control and
competing for the hearts and minds of the population. Maintaining dominance in ideology equates to maintaining control of the society and its
resources. Compromise and/or weakness in this ideological power struggle equates to voluntarily giving up hard-earned control of a society, and
therefore becomes dangerous to the society’s very survival.
Most of us are aware that ”Religion”
is probably responsible for more deaths and struggle on this planet than any other factor. With that
in mind the definition of religion seems frivolous and inconsequential, so its importance can only be realized in the context of our human history.
Web Definitions of Religion
1. a strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny;
2. A religion is a set of beliefs …usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of
3. A collection of practices, based on beliefs … that are highly valued or sacred; … is seriously devoted to
The definition seems mundane, even silly: A set of ”beliefs”
in a supernatural
power that controls human destiny! A set of beliefs
“involving devotional and ritual observances!”
Beliefs that are “highly valued”
in which someone or
some group is “seriously devoted!”
By definition religion is not based in logic, nor is it based in fact, nor is it subject to compromise or reason. Religion is a “belief” and it
is held “sacred” and it requires “serious devotion.”
By the shear definition and practice of religion it is clear that a “reconciliation” is impossible. Combine that illogical and sacred devotion
to a religion, with the necessary components of a society’s ideology and you have a religious ideology that is considered sacred, beyond human
influence, and necessary to the survival of the society.
Once we understand what is engrained in a religious ideology and the components at work, we understand that no mere human good will, or logical
reasoning is going to reconcile competing religious ideologies such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. We also realize that peace between the
competing entities is only a temporary reprieve while there is an abundance of resources. As soon as any single resource becomes scarce, the peace
cannot last. The competing entities will go to war based on their deeply-engrained beliefs for the survival of their ideology, their religion, and
their society. Lasting peace is an impossibility as is reconciliation of irrational and supernatural beliefs.
How can one rationalize a compromise among irrational beliefs?
How can one propose reconciliation, when it means giving up one’s sacred devotions?
How can one expect peace, when survival hinges on control of resources, including human resources, and the historical and successful mechanism of that
control has been religion?
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
My opponent will surely point to brief periods in history that have achieved peace. He will surely point to other religions that are attempting a
reconciliation of all faiths. Ba’hai faith, vague “Spiritualism”, and my favorite, Deism. These strategic religions try to include all
beliefs, but because of their constant compromise, they do not lend themselves to sacred devotion the way that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam do.
The beautiful compromise is also the seed for tolerance, and inaction. Those progressive religions do not control societies or civilizations the way
that Judaism, Islam, and Christianity do. There have never been crusades, jihads, or exterminations of these religions. In times of great peril the
irrational sacred devotion to a specific deity is what motivates hoards of religious followers to massacre their enemies in the name of their deity
and thus win control over their own destinies. Inaction, compromise, and tolerance might win popularity contests, but it does not win wars. The
tolerant versions of religion will never win this type of irrational devotion, and they will never have power over entire civilizations. The
inclusion of “tolerance” and “reason” are fatal flaws for any serious religion.
My opponent might point to the similarities among these three religions. He might point to Jesus in the Quran, or the Torah included in the New
Testament. He might propose that once these religions understand their commonalities and similarities that no compromise is needed. He would be wise
to point out that the main facets of all these religions are similar enough to warrant a peaceful reconciliation. I would love to agree! In
reality, that argument would be naïve. Each of these competing religions at its inception was well aware of the prior and competing beliefs. That
very awareness, and subsequent disagreement has led to the constant splintering and rewriting of their sacred books. Over millennia these religions,
with intimately entwined roots, have become more and more separated. Even within each of the three religions further splintering has occurred, so
that there is not just one Christianity, but dozens. There is not just one Islam, but dozens. There is not just one Judaism, but several. The
constant splintering means that there are not just “three” religions to reconcile, but actually hundreds! First “Christianity would have to
reconcile amongst itself, and then the same for “Islam”, and “Judaism.” If each of the religions cannot reconcile within itself, how can we
every imagine a reconciliation among competing religions? Splintering within the religions is further proof that a reconciliation is
impossible, and that day by day the splintering continues to worsen.
I leave it now to my esteemed colleague to show me the error in my rationale. I pray that I have made an egregious error. I hope to be proven wrong,
and learn of a path in which religion no longer leads to war, strife, and terror. Civilizations have come and gone, but our fundamental human flaws
have remained. Their will never be a reconciliation or a peaceful end as long as any religion remains.