Posts Tagged ‘taboo’

A respectful descent into rationalism.

April 10, 2010

I am continually surprised at how otherwise intelligent, socially aware people have such a limited knowledge of religious discourse and its impact throughout history and indeed upon contemporary society. When probed, the majority of people will start uttering clichés, typically from the dare I say trendy relativist camp that ‘people can believe what they want’ and ‘I don’t judge people and they shouldn’t judge other people and we all should treat each other with respect’. While these are obviously fabulously Utopian expressions, would either of these sorts of responses quench our desire when involved in political discourse, or discussing the role of social activism or the inequalities plaguing war-torn Africa?

What needs to be understood is that it is imperative that we care about other people’s beliefs, as these shape how they see the world, and are the basis of all actions. It is of the utmost importance that we are able to rely on our elected officials (not merely politicians, but those that represent us in the workplace or social situations) ability to act rationally and to work through problems and challenges logically.

The likely cause of this is the taboo against criticising religious beliefs, something viewed as a personal affront due to the embarrassing situation that occurs in our society (and quite rightly) when one cannot lend credence to their beliefs.  Imagine you confronted your boss resolutely demanding not only a promotion, but that it would be an unbelievable slight against your character to ask for evidence to support this demand. While it may be easy to dismiss this analogy, it is only on reflection that we realise that it is because we have been conditioned to accept that unlike all other discourses, it is in bad taste to talk critically of religion.

I do not propose unfair slandering of religion, no more than any other subject receives when in heated debate. But it is incredibly difficult to have a respectful debate when at the slightest hint of rain one person grabs their ball and bat and goes home.