Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Religion shouldn't be a death sentence

Although I never intended this blog to be an ongoing comment on religion and religious beliefs, it does seem to be happening on a regular basis. But, this is a 'ramble' in no particular order.

Growing up in a fairly structured Catholic environment I had little exposure to other belief systems in my formative years. As I grew older I have had dealings with others of differing faiths. Many of the initial beliefs are similar on the surface but due to the 'structuring' of their rules, that is when we hit the speed bumps. Although I have no formal instruction I do have a sense of right and wrong which is the foundation of what a belief system is founded on. Too often that structure is muddied by arcane and nonsensical rules.

Take the case recently in the news with the mother from Minnesota who fled the state with her child. The young man is in need of medical care to treat a treatable form of cancer. It is sad when a child or anyone is subjected to disease or something else out of their control. The mother fled to avoid a court order to have the child treated with chemotherapy. This is a treatment which by modern scientific methods has shown to be effective although it is not a guarantee of a cure. Apparently the parent's religious beliefs do not lend themselves to treatment from modern medicine. My question is why?

At what point does a religion impose a date on progress and say everything after that is bad or against our beliefs. Amish and other sects of that nature can't drive automobiles or use phones etc. However, Mennonites seemingly covered by similar rules of avoiding progress can't drive but can ride in cars and can use power tools. What's the logic in that? At what point does one pick an arbitrary date and say modern medicine can't save a child? Do sulfur drugs constitute an acceptable cure while penicillin does not? Why does an acceptable form of treatment have to be 'natural'? There are a myriad of things in nature that are deadly. Most need to pull their heads out of the sand and understand 'natural' has nothing to do with 'better' or 'more pure'.

The driving force in christian religions is to strive to be Christ-like. And yes, for the religiously ignorant, Catholics are Christians. That should not leave out the options of a better world through technology and science. Science should be used in a way to enhance our values, not act as a barrier to them. A belief structure is not dependent on convenience or modernization. The same beliefs that were true in biblical times will be true in the year 3000 and it shouldn't matter if you are riding in a horse and buggy or a flying Jetson's car.

Progress is the natural state of mankind. Religion should be the guidepost not a barrier by timid religious leaders holding on to their power base.


  1. Science and religion do not have to be mutually exclusive; they can be quite compatible much of the time.

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  3. Since we have Amish neighbors who we consider friends, I can say that the Amish aversion to technology does not have a date attached where anything before is good and after is bad. It all has to do with the family. Anything that takes away from family is frowned upon, such as TV, radio and cars. These items to not add to the Amish values of faith and family, and tend to decrease family time, so they are not allowed. Telephones are becoming more and more accepted because the Amish are farmers and business owners and it is nearly impossible to run a business without a telephone. Our neighbor keeps the phone in the garage and has a message machine so that the telephone doesn't interfere with the family. The bishop of each Amish parish sets the rules as to what is acceptable and what is forbidden, so two parishes next to each other can have completely different rules. It doesn't seem to make sense sometimes, but then no religion is perfect.