My Religion Is Reasonable; Yours Is Insane

Separate, yet related, to the wider matter of which religious matters are "reasonable" and which are "insane" is the idea that that there is a fundamental conflict between the types of religious experience I'm discussing here, and religion generally speaking, and "ordinary logic" or intellectual processes. I'd like to suggest that this is not, in fact, the case. All bets are most certainly not off when it comes to applying one's critical and intellectual skills to one's spiritual experiences, and "reason" and "religion" are not mutually exclusive terms. The types of religion that suggest jettisoning critical and rational processes of thought entirely tend to be exploitative and manipulative. As soon as any supposed spiritual authority I have encountered has suggested that I need to "turn off" my brain or "get out of" my head, I know they're trying to sell me something, not reveal some great insight. Certainly, there are moments to simply lose oneself in experience, and to give oneself to ecstasy freely and happily; but, those moments don't last long, and when one comes down (or up!) from them, one must return to the everyday world, which is one where rationality certainly has a place. 

But, I think the real question of whether one person's religion is reasonable and another's is insane comes down to a very simple factor, and one that Bill Maher and several of his panelists on that occasion five years ago did not adequately address. Absolutism of one religious viewpoint over another is the real problem, not the assertions themselves (with some exceptions). So, to put it in terminology Bradley Whitford might have used under different circumstances, saying that one has experienced Odin isn't the problem, it's saying that everyone else must think of Odin in that exact manner, and worship him regardless of culture, language, religion, or any other factor in human diversity, is the real problem, and is in fact quite insane. If the experience of any deity is, truly, the insanity that Whitford made it sound like, it really isn't a problem unless one insists that everyone must join in that insanity whether they like it or not.

9/22/2011 4:00:00 AM