The recent brew-ha-ha about Phil Whoever in Duck Dynasty has once again brought into my field of view, in ways that are impossible to ignore, how incredibly amoral belief in God can make people about a great many things. The way they just offload their beliefs onto God and deny all other association with them is just downright disgusting to me. It goes something like so:
- Say some horribly hateful thing.
- Claim it is your religious belief.
- When pushed on the issue and it’s pointed out how horribly hateful a person that believes that must be, claim you’re just saying what God told you.
Hooray! You’ve just managed to express completely bigoted and hateful beliefs while justifying to yourself that you’re not a bigot. The rest of us though are not buying it at all and in fact I for one find this level of dishonesty much more disgusting than the ignorant belief itself.
Let’s skip for now the whole homosexual thing because what the Bible says about homosexuals is not actually all that bad, not for the Bible. It just claims that they are abominations that should be executed by stoning. Instead, there is another passage that I think represents a much more disgusting paradigm: Psalm 14:1.
The fool says in his heart,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
there is no one who does good.
What this means to a great many people who read this passage (let’s set aside whether it actually means that, it’s not important) is that people like me, atheists, agnostics, skeptics, humanists, … a long list … are inherently evil and incapable of doing anything good. This is the essence of bigotry right there, it’s hard to come up with a more definitive example. The generalizing of a group of people who differ from you in some way, such as religious belief, and categorizing them as evil, or disgusting, or subhuman, or whatever is what everyone means when they say, “bigot.” If you believe that this statement in the Bible is true, you are one.
I don’t believe in a soul that is separate from the body it inhabits. There is no mind/body distinction for me. As I explain in other articles in this blog, though we can hypothesize what it would be like to have a murderer’s genes, his past, and his thoughts and realize I’d be no different this is actually an incoherent thought. If I had those things, and not my own, I would be that murder and not me. What we believe is what we are. Doesn’t matter why it’s believed, what process governs those thoughts–that is what makes us something unique. So to me, what you believe is who you are and there’s no extra soul or something that can be dirtied by current beliefs that somehow redeems the person from them. A person who wants redemption needs to work for it–they need to change themselves.
I explain that to show just how much stock I put into a person’s beliefs. A person who believes it’s OK to murder is a person who believes that. That is who and what they are. That is their essence and one need not look any further than that to find who and what they are. They may have other redeeming qualities, but they are still a person who believes murder is OK.
Likewise, a person who believes that you can equate skepticism with that kind of evil and worse is that kind of person. That is who they are. They are not something else waiting to come out. Although I can respect the honesty of someone willing to come right out and say that’s what they believe, and therefor who they are…that is totally lost when they then turn around and disown that by saying it’s just their “religious” belief–that they just believe it because God says so. Not only does that not let them off the hook, it demonstrates a total lack of spine. As if the holding of the belief as religious and sacred means it’s less a part of who you are than if you’d come to the conclusion on your own. It’s ridiculous.
I used to believe in God and I used to believe in the God described in the Bible. It is possible to do so and not be that kind of bigot. One might be inclined, as I was, to doubt the veracity of the Bible as containing only God’s statements and not being one interpretation of God’s intent by man. Passages like Psalm 14 do not have the same impact on such a person, they’re not inclined to believe it only to admit that yes, the Bible does indeed make that statement–I do not agree. Even if you believe the veracity of every word in the Bible though, it’s reasonable and feasible to step back from some of its claims. “The Bible says that, I believe that’s what God said, I don’t understand it and can’t agree with it from my perspective. I believe that perspective is probably flawed or I would not assume God is good.” Both of these are entirely different from, “You are a fool! You don’t believe in God. You are thus an evil man. It says so clearly right here is Psalm 14 and it is definitely true. I believe it to be true at the very core of my being. I will make sure everyone knows that this is what I believe…but when put to task I’ll claim that I don’t judge people, only God does.”
That is what I hear when someone claims to hold this or than belief because it’s what God says. That’s what I hear when people try to tell me that it’s just their religious belief, it doesn’t make them a bigot. If that’s what you think God thinks then you’re telling me God is a bigot, and you are telling me that you stand with him in his bigotry. An honest person admits this. They don’t say something hateful, spiteful, and cruel and then flip around like a coward. People that do that measure lower on the morality scale than complete nasties like the WBC or KKK.