Archive for August 9th, 2017

Why Everyone Needs to Study Religion, Deeply

August 9, 2017

Watching the Google fiasco unfold, it’s clear that everyone should spend as much time studying religion as they do mathematics, programming, and civics. Seeing as religion, what we believe to be true, the standards we set, are so crucial in every aspect of our lives, it should be the first and last thing we study each day and throughout our lives.

One of the things you learn rather quickly in studying religion is that no matter what, no one can possibly live up to the impossible ideals of any religion.

Let’s walk through the waterfall of choices.

  • Shall we lie about our obedience to the standards? If we put on a good face, then we can appear to be righteous and just and not have to worry about the consequences. Except, of course, for the fact that we are leading double lives and we’re not actually keeping those standards. If no one is keeping the standards in their private life, why bother at all?
  • Shall we lower the standards? To do so is to give up. No matter how low you lower the standards, eventually, you’ll reach rock-bottom. There are always standards we aren’t willing to budge on.
  • Shall we try to force ourselves and others to live by the standards? The problems here are numerous, not the least of which is denying everyone the freedom to choose how to live their own lives. Sometimes, however, a violation of the standards are so egregious and harmful that we decide it is justifiable and preferable to deny those who violate the standards their freedoms. For instance, we will stop someone from murdering someone else. Here, we must be very careful and judicious. This is where government steps in. Gratefully, throughout most of our history, we have lived by the adage that the best government governs least. Unfortunately, it’s not so true today.
  • Do we internalize and accept the fact that we cannot live all the standards? At some point, every religious person is confronted with the fact that no matter what they do, there are always going to be contradictions between their behavior and the standards. Accepting this fact is crucial to making progress in any religion. It is, in effect, the entire reason why religion is even a thing.
  • Do we forgive and forget?  If we forgive and forget, the weight is lifted from us, and we give room for the perpetrator to try again and improve. What do you do when you kid messes up in piano practice? You practice some more, and leave that mistake behind you.

The conclusion that every (good) religion leads is the following:

  • Standards can’t be lowered.
  • Lying about obedience hurts and doesn’t help anyone.
  • Some standards are so important that we must punish violators, but we need to be very careful. (This is the realm of government.)
  • We need to accept the fact that we can’t keep all the standards.
  • We need to forgive and forget.
  • We need to keep trying.

Google doesn’t get this. They have this ideal they’d like to implement, but they are lying about their implementation, they are punishing people who seem to violate it (or rather, refuse to lie about it!), they do not internalize and accept their contradictions, and they do not forgive and forget and give people room to learn and grow.

A good study of religions would help remedy this.