Thursday, April 21, 2011

Facing the Unknowable

A fundamentalist, Christian acquaintance of mine sent me a note with a link to an article describing the worship services of the Pentecostal Church in rather derogatory terms. The subject line on his note was, "There's certainly whackos in my world".

Perhaps I was incorrect in assuming that he was trying to point out that we were both somehow on the same side or maybe that he was more rational than some other people (and therefore somehow superior).

I was a little taken aback. We've known each other for more than a decade. I'm familiar with his fundamentalism and he knows I have a rather dim view of organized religions in general. It took me two days to collect my thoughts and respond. The following is my response:
In the war over who's imaginary friend is more real, the actions of the Pentecostals look no more strange to me than the dresses the Popes wear or Aztecs imagining that ripping the living hearts out of their virgin daughters in the hope it would bring rain or 21st century people looking to the pronouncements of desert dwellers from 2,000 years ago, who herded sheep and goats for a living and thought the earth was flat, for predictions about our near future.

The holders of each of those belief sets embraces his beliefs equally seriously and equally sincerely. Each believes with equal conviction that they have a handle on the absolute truth. For any of them to imagine that their beliefs are somehow superior to another's is an act of simple hubris, allowing one believer to feel the smugness of holding themselves apart a from their brothers and looking looking down on them.

They all get an equal level of respect from me, and frankly, less respect than it might be for the reason stated above.

It seems to me that, when facing the humanly unknowable, one should be more humble and consider: "What if I'm wrong?"

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