Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pew pew pew pew pew!

Recently, the Pew Forum conducted their Religious Landscape Survey and have posted the results along with a report on them. The full report is 268 pages, so they kindly gave a brief summary of the key points.

One of the most interesting key points deals with the fact that nearly 70% of all the people surveyed agreed that "there is more than one true way to interpret the teachings of my religion." Now this seems a little absurd.

Many fundies, evangelicals and other religions claim that their holy books contain some sort of monopoly on the truth or that their book is the infallible word of god. Obviously, this would mean that many different interpretations of their texts would be impossible. But let's give them a break, and assume that those surveyed don't subscribe to the fundie mentality (even though the results say they are.) Let's assume that they are at least a little bit more 'casual' in their beliefs (though still very religious.) Even if this were true of them, the statement that there is more than one true way to interpret their teachings would be impossible. This would be because of the law of noncontradiction.

So if I were to interpret a teaching a certain way, I would, supposedly, gain some bit of knowledge concerning truth. This bit of truth I have just obtained claims certain things about what is absolutely true. If another person came along, read the same teaching I did, and interpreted it differently, their bit of knowledge would claim different things than my own. Considering that our own 'bits of knowledge' are different, but regard the same thing, they contradict each other - or can't be true!

But still, let's ignore that! We have been looking at teachings within a single religion after all, so maybe there's a little wiggle room there. Even then though:

Most Americans agree with the statement that many religions – not just their own – can lead to eternal life. Among those who are affiliated with a religious tradition, seven-in-ten say many religions can lead to eternal life. This view is shared by a majority of adherents in nearly all religious traditions
So now we have people claiming that different religions can lead to eternal life? How can that be? These many religions have many different teachings; most of which definitely contradict one another! Many religions can't even agree on the basics, such as the name of god, the number of gods, the prophet's name, major events, etc. So this statement is even crazier than the last one!

Clearly, if one is going to have faith in a religion, there can't be room for interpretations. It's a black and white situation. Of course, since it is a black and white thing, then the fact that teachings of nearly all religions disagree with the discoveries of science gives us good reason to never believe in the first place. After all, the Earth can't be flat and spherical at the same time, can it?

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