Thursday, September 13, 2012

Separation of Church and Mind

I am not a great scholar and many elements of human interaction seem odd and counter-intuitive to me. Religion I understand at its most basic level. Where I fall off the train of understanding is when a person claims to be religious but acts in ways that are counter to their religious beliefs and even in ways that are considered mortal sins.

Catholic priests commit horrible acts of child rape and yet are encouraged by their church with a system of cover ups and transfers that allow the behavior to continue. Catholic dogma teaches that it is wrong on many levels; pedophilia, sodomy, deceit, priests having sexual relations of any kind. But there is justification of it and an institutional acceptance that nearly brought the church to its knees, and not in prayer.

I don't understand how Islam can teach that an insult to Mohammed is a justification for murdering people who did not insult that prophet. Recently an individual American made a film slamming Mohammed. In response 4 members of the American embassy in Libya, including the ambassador, were murdered. Another embassy in Yemen was attacked. I don't really understand Islam on a lot of levels but it would seem to me logical that if someone committed what the religion considers a crime that person should be punished. How people unrelated to that crime can be murdered in his place is beyond me.

Perhaps it is simply that religion does not require reason for acceptance. Religions encourage people to turn off their minds to what their observational senses tell them. Dinosaurs could not have existed because they are not described in Genesis and a monk said the world was only 6,000 years old. We are told to ignore the fossils we dig up. I was actually told by a pastor growing up that there were put there by God to test our faith.

That example of the separation of church and mind may seem extreme (although true) but the same fight goes on about evolution. We an see plants and animals evolve before our very eyes. We see them adapting to their environment and becoming new forms of plants and animals. Yet Christianity will often deny what our eyes, what our science teaches us.

We are taught from a young age to shut off our mind and accept what is being taught without question. And we do. Perhaps if we accept shutting off our minds for the acceptance of faith we allow ourselves the freedom to to shut off our minds to the actual teachings of the faith when it is convenient.

Or maybe it is not so much shutting off the mind as compartmentalizing it. Church stuff is here and real life is here and never the two shall meet. "I believe for the benefit of all mankind in the total separation of church and mind," as Steve Taylor so sarcastically put it (see video below). When we step into the church side of our mind we can shut all that pesky real world stuff out and be devout and sincere. When we want to do something that our religion would frown on we can ignore the Church compartment. After all, God forgives everything anyway, right?

How all of this applies to Catholic pedophiles and Muslim murderers I don't know. I think I'm going to put it all in a compartment in my mind and shut if off for a while. Dwelling on this has given me a headache.