Religion, Post- Modernism, Morality, and REALLY Bad Thinking

The other day, I found myself in a debate with a friend of mine over the separation of church and state.  I believe in the classical definition of this separation, putting restrictions on the state from abridging freedom of religion, and she believes that the correct definition is that religion should not play a roll in the state.  This is not surprising, given what’s going on in the world today, seldom does a day pass when, as a Christian, I do not hear this secular definition.  During our debate, my friend stated:

“Because there is not just one religion in this country, and there are people that don’t believe any religion. My point is that religious beliefs are personal. You can believe whatever you want, but don’t try to inflict it on others.”

Why am I picking on my friend?  Really I’m not, this is an answer I hear often from Post Modernists, but unfortunately, it has little thought behind it.  First and foremost, the statement assumes that secular opinions are without controversy within the secular community.  This is of course absurd.  If you get more than one person in a room, they may share many things in common but they will still differ greatly in opinion as well.  To assume that there is one secular mindset if simply false.  It also assumes that secular opinions are neutral and religious opinions are controversial.  By neutral, I mean that they are not exclusive or excluding other’s opinions.  The statement above is, of course, self contradictory.  It states “don’t try to inflict it on others”.  This is excluding anyone who has a differing opinion from speaking out or inflicting an opinion on another.  Is this statement not being inflicted upon me?   Why am I not allowed to do the very thing that is being done to me?  The statement is self contradictory and the argument commits suicide because by uttering the very statement it is proven to be false.

A bigger issues, in my mind, is the first part of her assertion.

“Because there is not just one religion in this country, and there are people that don’t believe any religion. My point is that religious beliefs are personal.”

Sometimes Christians believe we are working with the same definition when we are talking to a non-believer.  In this circumstance, when I say I should have the right to give my opinion in the public square and have my opinions known when it comes to public policy (the context of the original argument), I am assuming that my opinion is right and other opinions on the same matter are wrong.  However, this isn’t my friend’s opinion.  It seems to me she believes that all religious views are equally valid and thus it would be incorrect for me to inflict my truth – not the truth – on others.  Since religion is “personal”, it really doesn’t matter if I think it’s true, because it’s true to the individual.  Truth in my friend’s definition is not absolute, it’s up to the individual to decide.  The only exclusively true definition of the world is the secular one.  When it comes to religious things, we are playing in the land of fairy-tails and everyone know fairy-tails are truth as long as you believe them.  If I believe that religion is a description of the actual truth I am being intolerant for making such a claim.   This is the world’s definition of tolerance.  It’s simply not tolerant for me to say that my opinion is right and another’s in wrong.  That is of course only in a religious context, if I am irreligious, I am free to be as intolerant as I’d like!  Of course tolerance is the most intolerant position on the planet.  In an attempt to be tolerant of other religious views, she is in fact tolerant of non of them.  All opinions are exclusive, not neutral so by trying to protect and include people of religion, she is excluding all of them by making them all true and personal.  No religion that I am aware of believe that religion is simply personal, yet my friend see fit to add this definition to not just my religion but all of them!  Correct me if I’m wrong but it doesn’t see very tolerant to change a religion and what it believes.  The fact is,  if Christianity is true, Islam is not true.  If Islam is true, Secularism is not true.  These are opposing worldviews, and by excluding people from defining their owen religion, you are not tolerant, you are intolerant.

In reality, the concept of tolerance is completely unhelpful.  It shuts out people of differing opinions with the desire to co-exist with others.  Since all opinions are exclusive, someone or many are going to be excluded no matter what your opinion may be.  If an opinion is not exclusive, it’s not an opinion, it’s a tautology (using different words to say the same thing).  Simply put, I can’t say or do anything without excluding another.  No matter what your opinion on religion, if you try to include all religions as true, you are excluding all of them because religious people don’t believe they are all religions are true.

In addition, anytime, one uses or makes a claim that something is wrong, they are making a moral judgement.  If it’s wrong for me to inflict my religion on others, they are saying that I am acting outside of what they believe to be moral.  Even if they avoid the word moral, the definition remains the same.  Morals are a claim of right over wrong.  So my friend is simply stating the it is immoral for me to inflict religion on another.  It however is not wrong for her to inflict a secular worldview on me.   Two moral judgement in one statement – WOW!

In a nutshell, this is classic post-modernism.  Though academia has largely rejected post-modernism due to it’s inability to be consistent,  the planet as a whole is infected with it.  It shows little to no thought or desire for consistency and it shows little to no concern for people of other beliefs.  Thank God no one actually lives this way.  We may be infected by post modern beliefs, but because we are made in the image of the most Holy God we are inflected with a sense of justice and a knowledge of good and evil.

  1. Great summation of the problem of the “toleration” model. Some of the most vociferous condemnation of particular points of view (especially that of Christianity) come from self-proclaimed prophets of “tolerance.” But this is nothing surprising, given that unregenerate man is at enmity with the true God of the Universe and will rail against Him barring supernatural conversion.

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