We don't agree about everything and that's OK. What we do agree on is the need to carry on the discussion in a civil way.

Before you contribute to a discussion, familiarize yourself with logical fallacies. Ad hominem attacks will not be tolerated.

The goal here is for civil conversation so be nice; no profanity. Anyone who calls another person an idiot will be banned.

Lastly remember, when someone disagrees with your views it does not mean they like you less as a person. If you can't handle being disagreed with then go away.

Friday, April 27, 2012

How much do you know about your own religion?

On average, Americans correctly answer 16 of the 32 religious knowledge questions on the survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. Atheists and agnostics average 20.9 correct answers.

This is important to me because it illustrates what I've been trying to say, but not doing a very good job. If you don't know what other world religions teach, let alone the doctrines of your own religion, how on earth can you be so confident that you're right? 

What is so disheartening to me is the number of White Protestants who got the basic things about their own religion wrong.  33% think "Do unto others ..." is in the 10 Commandments [Jesus said it, thousands of years after Moses came down from the mountain with the 10 Commandments], 60% think Catholics take communion symbolically [the doctrine of transubstantiation teaches that the bread and wine change into the substance of Christ's body] and only slight more than half (of the protestants!)  know who inspired the Protestant Reformation.

If you scored low on this test, and especially if you scored low on your own religions questions, please do study the history of your religion. The Christian faith has not always been a monolith with a few minor differences between denominations. It seems today that many people think of the differences in Christian denominations like the difference in sports fandom - so what if I like the Vikings and you like the Patriots, we both like football, just different teams. What you really have to watch out for are those hockey fans.  But the reality is nothing could be further from the truth ... Catholics and Protestants were killing each other for centuries over things that seem so minor to us today (transubstantion, sola fide, indulgences, etc). 

For centuries theologians, church fathers and philosophers mulled over these very important issues. The idea of salvation through faith alone took a long time to be developed. Study the history of the faith, watch how the doctrines evolve, change and get dismissed. At one time in history, it was widely held that women did not have to worry about salvation, as long as they bore children, they would be saved (look it up, that's in the Bible 1 Timothy 2:15) .  

Please don't interpret this as an attack on any of you, I have a deep appreciation of all the world's religions, even if I don't believe them. But if there is one point to make it is this: 

When you claim your faith is the exclusive way to salvation because the plan is very clearly and obviously laid out in the Bible, you have failed to understand how any of these doctrines came to be. You are no better than the people who pick and choose from all the world's religions, a little of this, a little of that ... take out THAT part, maybe half of this line ....  Centuries of consideration, examination, searching, debating, voting, and bloodshed have gone into each of those tenants you hold so dear and consider self evident 2,000 years later.

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