Wed 13 Apr, 2011 09:10 pm
Hello friends. Thank you for giving me the time to speak to you today on behalf of the University of Chicago Divinity School’s Committee of Constructive Studies in Religion (Not trully representing this committee, this was part of the assignment). The issue before us is of understandably sensitive material and I assure you, the tone at which this speech was arranged is deliberately aimed at respecting the beliefs of all cultures and backgrounds.
What we have aimed this conversation around is preventing the spread of violent behavior, and more importantly, religious based discrimination abroad. More specifically I come to represent the Philosophy of Religion department, where Work in this area requires historical understanding of the disciplines of major religions both Western and Non-Western. We also focus on analyzing the realities that formed these differences.
So again, I have no motivation and or target aimed at any religious denomination in particular. All and all we wish to expand the tolerance of religious diversity within the teachings of each and every doctrine that is guaranteed tax exemption here in the United States. This speech will outline the ramifications of assumed philosophy, and the term faith itself. Here we will analyze this vocabulary and explain why the use of such terminology should be decommissioned from any governmentally supported denominations.
What is faith? Merriam-Webster defines faith as a firm belief in something for which there is no proof, a complete trust. The widespread acceptance of this term throughout every fabric of every culture is a phenomenon the scientific community cannot deny. It is of human necessity, to put a face to that which we do not understand.
There are 19 major world religions which are subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups, adding to that many others which are to small to count. 34,000 separate Christian groups alone have been identified in the world. Most of these contradict the other, but in their diversity, share a common characteristic.
Their curators and predecessors have held witness to unexplainable events, these events once recorded, led to interpretation. Dependent on the region, culture, and traditions in where these unexplainable events took place; an isolated attempt at explaining this phenomenon took root. These explanations were passed down to the children born in these regions and eventually developed into the religious diversity the world experiences today.
This can be both self-healing and self-motivating, however, this confusion and the removal to require proof to acquire followers, leaves a large margin for manipulation to manifest itself in to the religious experience.
For example, the Aztecs shed human sacrifice to ensure rains and sun would continue to bless their crops. These traditions lasted for thousands of years in spite of the seemingly illogical and unethical practice.
This is one example of a negative result stemming from a predisposed faith. I use the term predisposed strategically. The predecessors of these curators were born in an environment where the reason for the rains was already considered “discovered”. They were not given the opportunity to develop their ideal dependent on a rational interpretation of the world around them. They did not require evidence of the correlation between the amount of human sacrifice and the amount of rain that the God’s would bless them with. The Aztecs knew if they sacrificed their brothers and sisters, the rain would come back. What they did not know, and would never be able to prove, is that it would return regardless. This outlines the inherent flaw in the term faith itself.
A firm belief in something for which there is no proof.
The Aztec example is not an isolated incident. Aldolf Hitler convinced his followers, which numbered in the thousands to commit acts of genocide and racial discrimination. How did this happen? All had to understand that mass murder was completely unethical, yet they followed orders based on faith that their leader had insight on the cause of their suffering, and their actions , though seemingly unethical would pave a brighter future for their predecessors. Blind faith given to a fallen people, is a resounding explanation for some of the most brutal examples of human carnage the Earth has ever seen. Hitler himself bred this radical uprising, his followers the victims. Their acceptance of the concept of faith allowed Hitler to acquire followers who do not require proof of his claims. Faith itself is to blame.
Again we specialize in the historical importance within the religious communities differences. In this understanding we hope to reveal a pattern in which consistencies link separate denominations into a common truth.
For the sake of time let’s review one last example, Charlie Manson. Manson was a charismatic musician and talented public speaker. He used these two gifts to orchestrate a congregation of loyal followers. Many say they were persuaded, due to their vulnerabilities, to abandon their otherwise logical mindset and crusade with Manson’s cause.
My question is what makes them more vulnerable than we. Are we all not seeking the answers to life’s infinite questions? Does this not make us all equally susceptible to radical claims and ideals? Claims and ideals that otherwise would be viewed as irrational or impossible?
It is said that Manson preyed on these vulnerabilities and developed dependence in the hearts and minds of his “family.” And for this Manson was held responsible. Not just ethically responsible, but responsible in the court of law. The United States government recognized the power of philosophy and reprimanded an individual for abusing this power and manipulating his followers thus resulting in a violent outcome. We must focus on the root of this power, that root is the term faith: A firm belief in something for which there is no proof.
It does not require a detailed understanding of the world to understand that the ramifications of disregarding the importance of proof, generation after generation are problematic.
I am proposing a requirement for those denominations expecting tax exemption to comply with a regulated list of teachings that will incorporate an unbiased representation of ideals abroad. This will provide a venue of education in an environment where region and tradition had previously not allowed education to thrive. Furthermore, all faiths should be monitored regularly and randomly to assure their speakers refrain from falsifying testimony, and are providing a truthful and rational education for their believers. The misuse or abuse of this testimony must be regulated. Certain use of terms and vocabulary will be designed with the concern of full disclosure to their followers. If a subject covered, is theoretical or simply possible, it must be stated as so.
Romanticism, fanaticalism, and radicalism will not be tolerated in the civilized future of our predecessors. This will guarantee the civil rights of each member and remove any form of monopoly an individual faith has had over a particular generational bloodline.
Again, I hope we have outlined properly how important it is to exercise caution when choosing the vocabulary used in certain religious services and fully explained why the use of such terminology should be decommissioned from any governmentally supported denominations.