‘You Are Welcome To Have Your Faith – As Long As You Don’t Really Believe It’
Those who tell you to stop pushing your beliefs are happily pushing theirs:
There is a lot of foolish thinking out there when it comes to religion, worldviews, and ultimate truth. Plenty of folks deny absolute truth altogether. Many simply believe that all truths are equal, and none should be favoured over any other. And plenty of people are steeped in relativism, and think we all should just chill when it comes to firmly held beliefs.
Yet all these folks who routinely complain about religious types – especially Christians – “imposing their morality on others” are the very first ones to do exactly the same. They expect that their worldview and their morality SHOULD be the law of the land – figuratively if not actually.
Let me offer a clear cut example of this which recently appeared on the social media. One friend has posted a tweet by the American conservative and Christian commentator Allie Beth Stuckey: “Neutrality is a myth. Those who claim to fear Christian theocracy actually just want to implement their own. They want Christians to check their worldview at the door, so they can make sure they can control you with theirs.” The friend said this: “I’ve observed this is true. It is never easy-going c’est la vie types who try to shut Christians down, only budding tyrants.”
But one person came along and replied: “I have no problem with people practicing their religion. Nor do the vast majority of leftists. We object to all religions that insist that everyone follows their beliefs, which they encode into laws. This applies to Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Christians and those who practice every other religion as well. If you believe in ‘live and let live’ (not identical to c’est la vie), then this should be no problem for you.”
Oh dear. There are a number of substantial problems with this sort of remark. Three main points come to mind: how faith commitments work; the matter of pushing one’s beliefs and morals on others; and the nature of truth. As to faith commitments, those who are serious will know that this cannot mean just embracing every other view in town.
A committed atheist or secular humanist does NOT accept the claims of Jews, Christians and other religious groups. Judging by what this gal has said, it seems clear that she has her own faith commitments. Yet she seems to want everyone to just happily get along in terms of their beliefs while at the same time she fiercely clings to her own.
What such folks really want is for no one to take their beliefs seriously – except themselves. But genuine faith commitments do not work that way. The point of being commited to a worldview or a religion is to take it seriously – otherwise it is no faith commitment at all.
As to pushing one’s views onto others, this gal was doing just that as she challenged the other person. Everyone who is serious about their beliefs want them promoted far and wide – and yes, even want some legal recognition of them. The homosexual or polyamorist who thinks marriage can be whatever you want it to be not only thinks his views are right and important, but they should be backed up by force of law as well.
The truth is, ALL law is ultimately based on someone’s morality. And everyone wants their particular morality to have some sort of legislative enforcement. Even atheists and secular humanists do. In fact, they push their worldviews and morality on us all the time, even suing people and taking religious folks to court, and so on.
If someone is a gung-ho pro-abort, guess what? They will work day and night to make sure that society in general and the law in particular push their beliefs on others. That’s what law does: it binds everyone to a particular morality or view of what society should be like.
Indeed, just as I was writing this piece I came upon this in an online newspaper: “Victorian MP introduces bill to block religious hospitals from refusing abortions. A Victorian MP is hoping to pass new legislation which will prevent religious hospitals from banning abortion services.” That would be the diabolical Fiona Patten of the Sex Party.
So this person who complains about those who want to enforce their views on others is simply living in dreamland. She likely does this every day herself. When she votes for a politician or political party, she is wanting to see her preferred beliefs and values acted upon in the public arena – even legislated upon in fact. So she should spare us the ‘let’s just get along and don’t impose your views on others’ silliness.
Third, consider the nature of truth. Truth of course implies falsehood. If 2+2=4 is true, then 2+2=24 is not. No amount of wishful thinking will help you convince the tax department if you think mathematical truths are purely personal and subjective. And it is the same when it comes to religious truth claims.
If, as Christianity states, Jesus is God’s son who died on a cross and rose again, then its negation – as in Islam – can NOT be true. Both cannot be true when it comes to this core matter of belief. Sure, a Muslim and a Christian can seek to be good neighbours to each other, but if they are committed to their faiths, they cannot be anywhere near on the same page theologically.
Speaking in a somewhat different context, US Governor Kristi Noem recently said this: “If you do NOT hold to truth, if everything to you is negotiable….then you have no stability at all. You have become so ‘flexible’ that you have no foundation. You are fake.” Yes she is on to something there.
Moreover, not all claims to truth are accurate or realistic. Let’s say we have four differing accounts of reality, only one of which is true. Let’s say you are out at work, and someone discovers your house is on fire. If he tells you about this, you will drop everything and rush home – perhaps after calling the fire department first.
But let’s say three others give a different account of what is happening. One might say there is just some mist or fog hanging around the house but no fire. Another might say it is not your home that is on fire but that of someone else. And a third person might say that even if it is on fire, it is no big deal – just some material goods that we should not worry about anyway.
Four views on reality, only one of which is fully correct. So it does no good for this gal to say it is just fine whatever one believes, as long as they do not push it on anyone else. Just as it does matter which of the four views concerning the fire is correct, it is the same with ultimate truth claims. If our eternal destiny is at stake, then yes, it IS important as to which view we hold to.
So all up this gal’s complaint was silly indeed. Not only would she not apply it to herself, but it would never work in the real world. Truth is too important for that sort of nonsense. Truth matters, in other words, and when we try to pretend that it does not, we are asking for trouble.
Indeed, it reminds me of a scene out of Alice in Wonderland:
Alice: I was just wondering if you could help me find my way.
Cheshire Cat: Well that depends on where you want to get to.
Alice: Oh, it really doesn’t matter, as long as…
Cheshire Cat: Then it really doesn’t matter which way you go.
18 Replies to “‘You Are Welcome To Have Your Faith – As Long As You Don’t Really Believe It’”
Remember the old analogy of 4 blindfolded people having access to only one part each of an elephant and then be asked to describe what the animal is? One man touches just the tail, and thinks an elephant is like a rope. Another touches just the ear and thinks an elephant is like a fan. A third touches the elephant’s tusk, and thinks an elephant is like a spear. And so on.
Thanks Peter Yes many of us would be aware of the parable of the blind men and the elephant. It not only originated in eastern religions, but it is primarily used to seek to prove relativism, religious pluralism, and to deny absolute truth. And it is a rather poor analogy to use for that. I need to write a piece on this one day, but in the meantime, others have looked at it from a biblical Christian point of view, such as this one:
When Pilate heard Jesus speak of “truth”, he asked, “What is truth?” It wasn’t an enquiry. He didn’t wait for an answer. He said it to justify himself. He went out to the mob, pronounced Jesus innocent, then had him flogged and handed over for crucifixion.
Pilate apparently went along with the idea that truth is relative. For him it was “truth” that Jesus was innocent, but for the Jews it was “truth” that Jesus was guilty. So Pilate in all “fairness” washed his hands and let the Jews follow their truth.
So much for relative truth! A good man was crucified because in a mob’s version of “truth” he was a criminal, and their truth was considered as valid as Pilate’s. Jesus is not the first victim of relative truth, nor the last.
As an Architect, the building metaphor is my favourite. Each and every building has a foundation upon which the rest is built. Today they’re generally concrete footings. There is a magnificent mansion built on strong concrete footings founded on solid bedrock which has stood for hundreds of years without failure. A new family has moved in and decided to renovate which was OK until dad wanted a “men’s only” basement. The problem was, the footings and foundations stand in the way of him building what HE wanted and believed as the owner had the right to do and no matter how hard the builder argued that you couldn’t just dig up the foundations to create this space without affecting the entire house, it couldn’t be done.The builder was sacked and the owner decided to do the work himself because he said that footings belonged to “old school ” construction and were no longer necessary. it was his right as the owner. He removed the foundations and destroyed the footings and the whole house collapsed. It matters not what you truly believe about a buildings foundations- they’re there for a reason. The society on which these atheists and fellow travellers were born into was built on thousands of years of Judea-Christian moral ethic and law. Sure, they may get in the way of your brave new world vision, but remove them at your peril. This is exactly what our current woke relativism is doing today- removing the very foundations of our society Any wonder it is crumbling at an ever increasing pace. Certain laws are immutable (self-evident truths). No matter how much you believe its your right to cross a busy freeway, its a self-evident truth that if you do (and that’s your perfect right) you’ll be killed. Its the binary- you or the truck, no matter what you’d like to believe otherwise.
Many thanks Philip.
The house of relativism (like the house of CoVid-19) to me is a house constructed with playing cards, with no adhesives, built on a foundation of thin air!
You got it Stephen.
In other news, in what has been billed as the first big pro-life test after the reversal of Roe Vs Wade, a majority of Kansas voters have decided to keep abortion. Not a good sign….
I really loved this article. Thank you Bill
Many thanks Matthew.
Thanks for this masterpiece! I have looked at so many of your posts and thought “This is the best yet”. Then I read another!
This may well be as important as any you’ve written. A culture can only be held together when a common ascent to a value system is maintained. When anything-goes the adhesive is gone and disintegration is inevitable.
You state it so clearly. It may be the “best yet”!
Thanks so much Charles.
Yes these [in]tolerant postmodern “Keep your Christianity to yourselfers” would only(?) be content when Christianity became no more than a psychological state of mind, with no effect on a person’s behaviour or views… These are the sort of “Christians’ Christ said he would spit out of his mouth. Unfortunately, there is no lack of such “Christians’ these days… Some perish because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved (2Th 2: 10).
A useful book on this topic is The Myth of Religious Neutrality, Revised Edition: An Essay on the Hidden Role of Religious Belief in Theories
Roy A. Clouser
Thanks for that Daffy.
There is a saying I saw all societies are Theocracies the only question is who is Theos??? Or put another way everyone has religion the only question is who or what is worshipped.
I find more anti-religious people cramming their religion down people’s throat than any Christian zealots ever did. They play word games to somehow justify it, to somehow say what they are doing isn’t cramming anything down your throat or whatever but the truth it we both know the truth of what they’re doing and their hypocrisy but only one of us is willing to admit it!