Friday, December 14, 2012

Sister Simone Campbell

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I thought I'd post this, because it's complete bullshit. But it's nice bullshit. It's pleasant bullshit from a very nice person.

But it's still bullshit. After all, you don't need a magic man in the sky to be nice. You don't need a magic man in the sky to be compassionate. You don't need a magic man in the sky to be an advocate for the poor.

Sister Simone Campbell is faith-based. She's nice, so she believes in nice things. But it's still bullshit.

Note that she disagrees with Paul Ryan, who is also faith-based. They both disagree with the Muslim terrorists in al-Qaeda,... but they're faith-based, too. These people might believe in different things, but they all believe for the same reason. And how can you say that any of them are wrong, if it's just a matter of faith?

Overwhelmingly, your religion tends to be determined at birth. I mean that people almost always believe in the religion they were raised to believe. Oh, sure, you might change churches, but if you were raised Christian, you'll tend to believe - if you believe at all - in Christianity, not in one of the many other religions. Exceptions are rare.

But if you're a nice person, you believe in a nice god. If you're a nasty person, you believe in a nasty god. Simone Campbell and Paul Ryan believe in the same 'God,' technically speaking, and even in the same holy book, but they completely disagree on what they take from that.

And both probably disagree with the good Christians who burned women alive by the tens of thousands in the Middle Ages, even though their Bible specifically commands Christians to kill witches. Well, when you believe by faith, you can rationalize anything.

Was Jesus born in a manger? There's absolutely no reason to think so. Did three wise men bring him gold, frankincense, and myrrh? Of course not! That was just a later myth added to the already-improbably legend. Indeed, there's no good evidence that Jesus existed at all, though I'm sure it's likely there's some kernel of truth to the mythology. But the Jesus of the Bible is probably no more real than Mother Goose.

But when you're faith-based, you can believe anything. If you don't require evidence for your beliefs - real evidence, the kind of evidence scientists use to convince each other of what's true and what isn't - then you can believe anything you want.

And so Simone Campbell believes what she wants to believe, and Paul Ryan believes what he wants to believe, and you, if you're faith-based, believe what you want to believe. The only consensus is when faith-based people come together with others who think like they do.

If you all want to believe the same things, then you'll be happy in your church. If not, then you'll just find a church which does have a compatible doctrine. That's easy enough to do, no matter what you believe. But there are always other religions, too, if you really get stuck.

Scientists have the scientific method. They use evidence and independently-verifiable research to come to a consensus about reality. But religions have no mechanism to determine reality from delusion or wishful-thinking. Faith means that you can believe anything you want, and so they do. It could be true, or it could be delusion combined with wishful-thinking. There's no way for the faith-based to tell.

And this is the case even with nice people, with pleasant beliefs. Note that you don't have to be wrong, if you believe by faith. But being right is just... coincidental. You want to believe what you want to believe, and if you're not evidence-based, there's simply no way to tell if you're right or wrong.

So I thought this video clip was interesting. Sister Simone Campbell is an intelligent woman, a good woman, a nice woman. I'd be happy to work with her on policy issues. But nice or not, there's a lot of bullshit in what she believes. And it's complete bullshit on how she believes.

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