Belief systems

I normally read Kim Du Toit’s weblog because he is an interesting gun nut and obviously knows more about them that I ever will. He’s also a homeschooling Dad which I can relate to.

He’s taken some time off and suggested people read his wife’s blog, which I did for the first time today. I ended up at this entry and decided to comment on it. If you’ve been reading long you know I don’t like to leave really long comments. If it gets over a hundred words it should be a blog entry.

So here is the comment I would have left there. I left track back ping.

Go read her post first

An interesting post. I was thinking as I read it when do you base your beliefs/evaluation of a religion on its adherent’s behavior. If everyone who follows a particular religion or a sub-sect of that religion act a certain way, it seems you have to draw some conclusions about the belief system. We do this with any belief system like a political party or activist organization. Don’t we judge liberalism based on how liberals act? PETA?

Maybe we shouldn’t. I guess we would say we judge liberalism based on its actual tenants and juudge liberals based on their actions. We just don’t happen to like either one. Of course we often make the argument that the reason we know the tenants of liberalism are wrong is because of the results when they are put into practice, which would be a form of action.

Your follow up comment is also interesting especially your contention “…that an individual’s belief system does not influence their behavior…. their behavior influences their choice of religion and how strictly or religiously they are able to adhere to its tenets.”

This is probably a chicken and egg argument, but I’d disagree with you. The extent you follow your beliefs about anything dictates your behavior. If you believe the public education system is flawed and you follow your beliefs, you will do something; take your kids out of the system. Now are you taking your kids out for no reason and go looking for a reason? I maybe misunderstanding your point here.

The fact is people don’t live up to their professed belief system. According to Christianity only one person did and he was God any way. There is a great passage in Neil Stephenson’s Diamond Age where some of the characters are discussion hypocrisy and how it rose to be the ultimate sin during the moral relativism of the late twentieth century. Christianity accepts that people will not be able to live up to its tenets, but that doesn’t make them any less right and wrong.

Part of me actually thinks people really do live up to their beliefs and they don’t really believe. If you say something is evil, like abortion, but go out and have one anyway, you don’t really believe it is evil. But again this is probably a semantic argument.

My personal philosophy is you pick a belief system after much intellectual evaluation and then you struggle to live up to it. It is this struggle that defines the individual human condition. Your personality/character dictate how you go about this struggle and influence your ultimate success.

It is quite easy for someone to hold a philosophical system as good and true, and yet live as if it isn’t. Sometimes this is necessary because to truly follow it would be harmful to us. I was reminded of Ravi Zacharias’ Can Man Live Without God. When someone truly follows some philosophies, they can be driven crazy. He gave Nietzsche as an example of a person who ultimately went insane by perfectly following his philosophy. Looking at a lot of “fundamentalist” Muslims you also see this. (I’m not saying they are following the principle tenants of Islam – though they may be – but they are following tenants of a sub-sect when they become suicide bombers).

Written while listening to “Deconstruction”
album Become You
by Indigo Girls