Nov 8, 2013

The Absurdity of Multiple Sects: Religious Incompatability

It would seem to most people who are not indoctrinated into a certain religion and who have no ulterior motives for promoting a specific sect of religion we can all agree that religion is good in so far as it promotes good. This is a silly tautology that is nonetheless worth explicating. As a denier that any text contains ultimate truth, it is easy to criticize those who claim that the Bible contains such a truth. It becomes even stranger when we realize that multiple religious sects have different 'interpretations' of that truth. In other words, the Bible, to these religious groups, contains the truth, but they can not agree on what that truth is. When the average person is unable to garner truth from the text alone, he must seek the guidance of a professional. It's not ridiculous to expect this person to do this, after all, if I am ill I seek the guidance of a doctor. It only becomes ridiculous, and allows one to adopt a certain skepticism, when the professionals begin to give you a variety of different answers. In the doctor example, perhaps one doctor misdiagnosed you, or perhaps they have a different opinion on the proper treatment. Their judgement is also affected by their temperament. In the end, this is excusable, because the doctor does not claim to propound the truth. A doctor gives his advice based on logical speculation coming from his interpretation of your symptoms. Religious speakers, in contrast, do pretend to give out truth-isms. The truth can not be inconsistent; therefor, only one, if one, of these speakers is correct - just as only one of the doctors has given you a correct diagnosis.

Jehovah's Witness, a specific sect of Christianity - to the extent that they purport the Bible to be the truth, publishes a periodical called 'The Watchtower'. This pamphlet typically contains a series of short articles of advice giving, and interpretations of the Bible. In a recent issue there was an article on  interfaith movements. The writer quoted the Dalai Lama as saying, "All major religious traditions carry basically the same message: that is love, compassion and forgiveness." One subtitle in this article carried the text "Is promoting good good enough?". The writer wanted to say that simply doing good things isn't good, to do good we must follow the dogma of the Bible. This obviously goes against my judgement of what a good religion is: once you say that religion is only good if it propounds truth, we enter into a strange world; who is to say what truth is? The Bible can't say what truth is, if it did we wouldn't have multiple sects all in disagreement. 

The Jehovah's Witness seems to enjoy its ignorance of this fact, as do many sects, and they firmly admit of only the truth of their interpretation. The article even cites a survey that described 89% of people as saying religion divides us. But, even if it does divide us, Jehovah's Witness does not care: it is in the belief that they are correct. "Jehovah is described as 'the god of truth', and he said of himself: 'I do not change.' About God Jesus said 'your word is truth'. The truth is in the divinely inspired Scriptures, the Bible." Even ignoring the fact that Jehovah's Witness spits in the face of all the other religious types (it disallows the legitimacy of the Koran, Buddhist Writings, etc.) it doesn't acknowledge that even if the Bible is the truth, there are different interpretations.

The Jehovah's Witness has almost no self-awareness. In the very same article it draws up an analogy to the international space station. The interfaith movements won't work because they are not using the same 'blueprint'. The space station was the result of 15 nations working together, "could you imagine the project being accomplished if the participating nations did not agree on what blue-print to use?". But, the interfaith movement has declared a blueprint, namely "love, compassion, and forgiveness". This blueprint seems less convoluted than the open-to-interpretation Bible. The Bible, to continue the blueprint analogy, doesn't state which measurement system it's using, it is not explicit in its commandments. We can't, as the writer suggests, "build our lives on what the Bible says", because I have no clue as to which biblical line (let alone chapter or book) to use, and I don't know how to convert that line into a call to action. The Bible tells me to circumcise myself, but it is impossible to see a logical link between that and my goals - I don't even know what my goals should be based on a reading of the bible.

The Jehovah's Witness places "building faith" above the reasons that faith should be built to begin with. It places the means above the ends. If the 15 nations building the space station each brought its own blueprint, it would make sense for the nations to sit down and rationally choose which is the best blueprint, or to piece together a blueprint using ideas from each one; the best blueprint would obviously be the one that the nations agree will help them build the best space station. Yet, the nation of Jehovah's Witness would reject the 'blueprint' of every other religious sect in favor of their own, in complete disregard of which one will lead to the best results; in complete disregard to what the best results even look like.

You can be an incredibly caring person, who tries to get along with everyone, but if you don't follow the specific dogma of a specific religious sect, you are an imbecile in their eyes. Jehovah's Witness, and any other religious sect that demands the same submission from people, have completely missed the point of the interfaith movement, they have complete disregard for the value of human life. They commit an absurdity of gargantuan proportions. Jehovah's Witness is a kin to a doctor who ignores the methods of its peers even if the foreign methods proved effective.Until you can quit this absurd ignorance, I would appreciate it if you didn't knock on my door. Unfortunately, Jehovah's Witness relies on the intellectual and spiritual weakness of its members to persevere; it is a vampiric practice that is sadly not exclusive to this one sect.  

Isaac Snow
Valuing the outcome regardless of the method in Vernon, BC
January 2014

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