Monday, May 30, 2011

Anti-theist complaints: Doctrine

[Disclaimer: When Lent started, I figured I would do a whole bunch of "Snarky Theology" blog posts, followed by "Evil Religion" blogs. And, while I was at it, I asked Matt, friend of this blog, artist, atheist, and a few other things, to generate a list of what he found to be problematic with religion. He gave me a few.

I promised him I would use it. And I keep my promises

This is the last week I'm doing what my friend Jason calls "high-intellectual" blog posts. They are time consuming, draining, a lot of work, and I'm not sure they are at all entertaining. They've garnered some response, much of it hate mail.

My replies are long-winded, so this may take a few posts.

If you find yourself here by accident, or have no interest in the topic, I invite you to look around. Our most popular blogs are in the sidebar, as are the short stories, what this book is about, and we have entries on why anyone can enjoy this book, any politics involved, spytech, and even a section for fans of Sherlock Holmes and science fiction. If we don't have something you like ... wait five minutes. :)

Anyway, onto the complaint ....]

Problem: The picking and choosing of doctrine from texts while ignoring others.

Without specific doctrine, that's going to be tough. Picking and choosing of doctrine …

Keep in mind that context applies a LOT. Not to mention culture plays a part....This is gonna take a while.

I think the best argument / example I can use are atheist Jews.

You've heard of them, haven't you? They don't believe in God, but boy, don't get them started. On anything. I've found many of the atheist Jews to be more antithetical to other religions, with the exception of the Hasidim (who seem to hate even Orthodox Jewry). How can they be atheist Jews? Because “Judaism is a culture.”

Doctrine is The Ten Commandments, handed down by God. Application is Leviticus, where ten laws became a few hundred, drafted by people.

Ten Commandments is God's behavioral standard …. the execution of them is how people deal with it.

For example: When most of the Old Testament laws were written, Judaism was its own, self-contained society, which meant that it had to have all of their own laws, and capital offenses; once they lost their own nation, and it had been absorbed into Rome, they couldn't enforce them, things had to be seriously rewritten –laws were rewritten so that no one could ever be executed, ever.

Why did the application of doctrine change? Because society did. Executions had to be around for major crimes because, gee, they started as a nomadic people—what jails are they going to be put criminals in? Why would they make adultery an offense … laws of inheritance aside, I can come up with a great reason: you kill your major potential source of STDs in a time period that didn't even know from medication.

So, doctrine has never really changed. Application of said doctrine is cultural. Notice how much of the Core Beliefs are usually in a book completely different from how people interpret them? Commandments are in one area, how punishments are meted out are in another.

And if we're going for Old-New testament, notice that Jesus came “Not to change one word of the law, but to fulfill it”... and all of the things that he “changed” had nothing to do with the actual commandments, but cultural attitudes and applications?

So, this is in part a failure to distinguish doctrine from the application of punishments for cultural attitudes.

For example: why stone adulterers? To start with, Judaism was a closed, and close, community. People sleeping around ... well, it's pretty much the same reason as why fighter pilots have been ordered to call off adulterous affairs -- you do not want to have a David and Bathsheba situation in a military unit (See: Uriah the Hittite).

Like I said, there's a difference between doctrine and the application of punishments ... Notice, even Judaism has dropped most of the original penalties from the Torah.

As I look this over, I'm not 100% certain that I'm explaining this to my satisfaction, but after the last two months, my brain is a little fried at this point.

Comment below. Feel free. Be careful about double-clicking, because that means it'll go straight to spam, and I don't notice that right away. Also, don't comment with any language that would be killed by a network television censor. I will delete you if you start with four-letter works, swearing, and generally carrying on cranky. If you want to dedicate whole blogs to shredding me, feel free to post a link -- I don't care what you say on your own blog, just spell the URL right.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please, by all means, leave a message below. I welcome any and all comments. However, language that could not make it to network television will result in your comment being deleted. I don';t like saying it, but prior events have shown me that I need to. Thanks.