Tuesday, May 19, 2009
What choice do we have?!?!?!
In the recent weeks, in the discourse about my faith, someone referred to the "choices" I've made about religion. I was thinking about that word and how its used incorrectly in a few hot button issues. Are the things we believe or don't believe the result of us choosing to believe or not believe them? And if so, is that really believing? Where religion is concerned it opens up a lot of other issues about motives and why you're choosing to believe in the first place.
While you can certainly choose to shelter yourself from ideas you know will contradict what you believe, I don't believe you can choose your beliefs, really. There have definitely been times when I was confronted by a truth that clearly contradicted my belief and at the end of the day the only reaction really available to me was, "Well, shit, the damage is done." In my experience, for the most part, things either make sense to you or they don't. Simple.
You also hear the word "choice" thrown around when you're talking about homosexuality with people who don't know any homosexuals. While no one is sure (yet) whether gay people are born that way or if sexuality is shaped by experiences, or more probably a combination of the two, one thing we are sure about is that no homosexual will ever tell you, "I weighed my options and I opted for homosexuality." Its really quite absurd and ignorant to think anyone chooses their sexuality.
I think in the case of homosexuality people like to believe its a choice because it makes the gays responsible for what's "wrong with them," and therefore, easier to hate or at least be weirded out by. By the way, we're not the only animals that do it. Apparently, there's at least two penguins who are going straight to hell.
Anyway, if you believe that it is possible to choose what to believe then that choice is certainly necessary in the task of believing impossible things. I'm sure that believing in gravity is no chore for anyone, whereas, believing that a man fit at least two of every kind of animal on a boat or that a baby was born speaking requires some hefty faith. I guess faith is the right word for things we choose to believe. So why do we bother? I think "faith" is a word that gives a lot of intelligent people an excuse not to think about things that they can't explain. Why can't we just be OK with not knowing for sure?
Personally, I think the bulk of it stems from the whole "fear of death"/"what if we're wrong" thing. What if I'm wrong and Christianity is completely right? I guess that's as valid a question as any. I guess the answer to that is that I'll go to hell. Shit. Of course, that question begot other questions. What if Christians are wrong about Hinduism, or Buddhism, or Judaism, or Deism, or Islam, or Zeus, or Scientology? Better choose wisely.
Does anyone remember Columbine? One of the things I remember the most in the aftermath of the tragedy is the "She said 'yes'," shirts. If you're unfamiliar, a story surfaced about a girl who was confronted by the killers and asked if she believed in god. We'd all like to assume that if she'd said "no" then she would've lived, but she was brave and courageously said "yes." Who knows, maybe they would've shot her anyway. They clearly weren't the most stable of kids in the first place. I was in high school at the time and more Christian than I have ever been. I remember thinking, if someone put a gun in my face would I say "yes?" I felt secretly ashamed of myself because the honest answer was a definitive "NO." It made me think, do I really believe this or do I just want to, and is there a difference? If Christianity was right and I got to heaven would Yeshua be more likely to say "Hey there, friend! Great job with the faith!" or would my reception go more like, "Sorry man, sticking feathers up your ass doesn't make you a chicken. You pretended to believe and I knew the difference."
I maintain that nothing is my fault (with the exception of a lot of things).