Kurt Onstad (speedball) wrote,
Kurt Onstad

An interesting Easter Conversation, pt. 1

Talked with IQ Pierce today. He's the guy who inherited the comic from me at the point that it became more trouble than it was worth...We discussed religion quite a bit. Having an intelligent person on the other side made this one of the better conversations about religion I've had in a while. Here's the part of it that sticks on topic...

Kurt: Happy Chocolate Bunny day!
IQ Pierce: Damn atheists
Kurt: Secular Humanist, thank you very much...
IQ Pierce: What's the difference?
IQ Pierce: Have you ever heard of a Theistic Humanist? Come on.
Kurt: Think of it as Agnostic with Attitude...
IQ Pierce: ah
IQ Pierce: How about, Agnostic with Attitude and Alliteration?
Kurt: Basically, the belief is "There might be a God, there might be. But, if there is a God, he probably wants us to actually live our lives down here instead of arguing over which vision of him is exactly right."
IQ Pierce: So do you assume the existence of a definite morality?
Kurt: Well, certain things are right and wrong. (Murder=wrong) But, for the most part, people should be allowed to do and believe what they want, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else.
IQ Pierce: So basically it only includes social morality and leaves personal morality unspecified.
Kurt: Right.
IQ Pierce: But isn't personal morality inherently related to social morality? Don't the things which you do to your own mind and soul inevitably eventually affect how you relate to others?
Kurt: Can you give me an example?
IQ Pierce: If I constantly dwell about pornography, it will seep through my thought life and I will eventually be unable to relate to women in a non-sexual way. I will kill my ability to regard them as anything more than sexual objects, and in the long term I'll become a chauvinist womanizer at best.
Kurt: Okay. As soon as it gets to the point that you start harming other people, then it is unhealthy, and requires outside intervention. But, it should still be your choice if you want to go down that road to a lesser extreme...Pornography in itself isn't bad, just taken to that extreme.
IQ Pierce: Okay, I digress from that. But, if there were a God who wanted us to live out our lives down here, don't you think he, as our Creator if nothing else, would have some rather specific things to say about it? Can you really leave the existence of God unresolved? Even if the first priority is for us to live our lives down here, the definition of that would surely be considerably different based on the answer to the question of the existence of God.
Kurt: If he does have specific things to say to us, he's not going to any effort to make them clear to us...
IQ Pierce: What makes you say that?
Kurt: Well, we have quite a few different books that claim to be God's words, and each of them has been interpreted in so many different ways that we have constant fighting amongst ourselves about which interpretation was right. If I was trying to get a message across, and saw the people I was trying to talk to fight over what I meant, I'd do something to make myself clearer...
IQ Pierce: Here you're referring to, for example, theological differences over the Bible?
Kurt: And the Koran and the Torah...
Kurt: And the Greek, Roman, Norse, and Native American mythologies. I'm not sticking to just Judeo-Christian beliefs...Any of them could be the "Correct" one. How am I supposed to know for sure without a little more of a pointer from the deity(ies) that are in charge...
IQ Pierce: For one thing, I think that all these "differences" are exaggerated. The core message of all these books, and perhaps of all morality, is really the same. Have you ever seen two people arguing theologically and one taking the position that rape is morally right? I think the "divisions" on these issues are much narrower than people seem to think, and in fact we HAVE a clear message from the beyond in the conscience which each of us more or less share.
IQ Pierce: When you look at how much we all actually agree upon, the things we bicker over are actually rather miniscule. I think that our own inherent knowledge of right and wrong, and each religion/morality's attempt to clarify this feeling we already have, is itself our message from God of how we ought to behave.
IQ Pierce: But, it's vague and DOES need clarifying by a religion.
Kurt: Okay. But, how do you know which religion has all of the specifics right?

If the way I act and relate to others doesn't hurt anyone else, and I'm generally believed to be a moral person, why does whether or not I believe in the same diety as you, or whether or not I believe in a diety at all matter?
IQ Pierce: Well of course at that point you get into your own search for the Truth. Of course you should study each option, see which if any seem to contain Truth for you... which seem to properly align and clarify those vague instincts you already have. And which diety, or none, you believe in, surely that matters inherently if one exists. That's what I'm saying, that your philosophy seems to want to leave unresovled the most important question(s) of all.
Kurt: Other than answering the question, "Where do we go after this life is over?" why is that question so important? I have done my own search for the Truth. At various points in my life, I've considered myself a Christian, an atheist, and even a polytheist. But, of all the religions I've been and have researched (and there's been quite a few), none of them fully aligns with what I feel, other than the Universal Life Church, which says "As long as you don't harm others, believe what you want to believe." I'm a minister of that Church, but because of that, I'm allowed to believe that I don't need to find an answer to the question of whether or not there's a God or Gods.
IQ Pierce: First, I personally don't hold the afterlife question important, and also consider it one which is the source of too much needless debating; as far as that goes, I wholly agree with the "the first priority is to live our lives here correctly." But, a philosophy like yours seems rather ready-made; I wouldn't have to make particular personal sacrifices, I could just pretty much hang around and "live and let live." And this is exactly what the worst part of me wants.

It starts to wander from there, but I'm going to post the whole thing...See you next entry.


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