Sunday, October 05, 2008
I went to see Religilous last night. I have to say that it was refreshing and it took me back to a time when it was OK to challenge religion and understand its role in the right time period (in school when I was 14! - JP Sartre, Albert Camus and Arthur Koestler; Granted! not part of the US curriculum, but still.). I have always be astonished that people in our century could still believe in religious anecdotal stories as if they were not figurative; and this across all religions. Which further proves the absurdity of religion in our increasingly unstable and self-annihilating capable age. I believe Bill Maher got it right in terms of demonstrating the absurdity and the dangers of blind faith. All of us recognize this, yet we put the blame on the other religious club; hence the problem. Like Bill Maher, I think that faith is a great thing to have when you are down; life can be quite absurd and you need to grab on something somehow. This being said one thing captured my attention in the movie; Thomas Jefferson’s view on religion. In fact Thomas Jefferson’s view on religion is pretty close to my own and the way our country’s relationship with religion should be. Funny that the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and one of the most influential Founding Fathers saw religion as having negative impact on the prosperity of democracy. He went as far as reducing the bible the its essential moral compass aspect.
Extracted for WikiPedia: From his careful study of the Bible, Jefferson concluded that Jesus never claimed to be God. He therefore regarded much of the New Testament as "so much untruth, charlatanism and imposture". He described the "roguery of others of His disciples", and called them a "band of dupes and impostors", describing Paul as the "first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus", and wrote of "palpable interpolations and falsifications". He also described the Book of Revelation to be "merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams". While living in the White House, Jefferson began to piece together his own condensed version of the Gospel, omitting the virgin birth of Jesus, miracles attributed to Jesus, divinity and the resurrection of Jesus. Thus, primarily leaving only Jesus' moral philosophy, of which he approved. This compilation titled The LIFE AND MORALS OF JESUS OF NAZARETH Extracted Textually from the Gospels Greek, Latin, French, and English was published after his death and became known as the Jefferson Bible.
Like Jefferson I believe in the essential need to illustrate morality for people to be prepared with social tools. After all, Jean-Jacques Rousseau did as much as reconciling sate and morality with the “Social Contract” in 1762. Now why is it that these great men, who influenced independence from tyranny and democracy, are not put on a higher standing to guide our moral values? (Oh yah right! They were not appointed by God ;-)
This is the next challenge I would like to see Bill Maher take on as a second step that might inspire people to educate themselves and look at alternatives... if self-moral governance weighs too much for us, of course!
Enjoy the movie and don’t fear speaking out.
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