Sunday, January 19, 2014

Philosophy, Ideology, Religion & Knowing The Difference

Once again, this is an article that's been rattling around in the ol'computer for awhile and I finally managed to take sometime outta my day to down and actually outline this puppy, write it out and post it for your consumption. The origins of this articles dates back to a few years ago when I made the argument that Scientology IS NOT a religion. I understand that in some countries (aside from Germany, well done) consider Scientology a religion but I took immediate issue with this because "religion", the very definition of the word carries with several things that Scientology does not have. Also many Scientologists claim that Scientology is compatible with all religions. THIS IS FALSE! But we're not here to talk about Scientology, exactly, we're here to discuss religion, philosophy and ideologies and knowing the difference between them. So let's dive in!

Unfortunately, we live in a day and age where religion is looked at as a type of phase people go through in life. Religion isn't something someone is supposed to adhere to, it's more of a commonality between people, like a social club. Let me back up for a second and explain my terms:

Ideologies are subjective. "What works for me, may not work for you". There are no penalties for rejecting a certain ideology. You can hold multiple ideologies at once. You don't even have to adhere to a certain ideology completely. Most ideologies DO NOT have any moral aspects attached to them and they DO NOT DEFINE REALITY! Some examples of ideologies include: Republican, Democrat, Vegetarian, Pescatarian, Pacifism, Nationalism, ect. ect. All ideologies are is a point of view on how to accomplish "X". That "X" can be whatever it is you want it to be. A better diet, a healthier life, a better economy. You name it, there's an ideology for it. Furthermore, ideologies can be shared by anyone. Adolf Hitler and Paul McCartney were both vegetarians and yet both are VERY different people, with VERY different beliefs. When earlier I said ideologies DO NOT have moral aspects attached to them, what I mean is because one is a Vegetarian does not automatically make them a good person and because I am not, does not automatically make me a bad person. While there are some ideologies that do indeed incite violence and distasteful behavior and are incompatible with one another, most are pretty harmless.

While ideologies are a type of belief, they are subjective beliefs and therefore can be mildly reinterpreted to suit the needs of the person who adheres to that ideology. Ideologies are vague in some aspects and solid in others. For example, a solid aspect of Vegetarianism is "Do not eat meat!", the REASON behind why you choose not to eat meat is vague and up for your interpretation. Whether you choose to do so for dietary reasons or for a love of animals, as long as you're not eating meat, you're a vegetarian. Other ideologies are more complex, specifically political ideologies such as Republican, Democrat, Nationalist ect. ect. Those ideologies hold conflicting view points on economic structures, foreign policies, defense, ect. ect. BUT even then one doesn't has to completely agree with ALL of the tenets of either ideology to fall into their camp. Simply pick one you agree with the most and PRESTO, you're one of them. And you can STOP adhering to that ideology ANYTIME YOU WANT AT NO COST TO YOU!

Religion is a COMPLETELY different animal all together! Anyone who is being honest about their religion (regardless of what religion it is) would have to believe that their religion is objective. Meaning your religion defines reality. That is the purpose of religion to define and explain reality. You must believe that your religion is THE TRUTH! Unlike ideologies, religion is NOT on a "works for me, not for you bases." No, if you are honest about your religion then you must believe that your religion can and will work for EVERYONE! There are solid tenets that define that religion and if one does not adhere to these tenets, one cannot be considered a member of that religion, REGARDLESS of what they claim. For example, one of the basic and fundamental tenets of Christianity is that Jesus Christ is God in The Flesh! Anyone who says anything different, IS NOT A CHRISTIAN! That's a non-negotiable tenet of Christianity.

Since the purpose of religion is to define reality, adhering to different religious views is an impossibility. Since many religions have different views on how life came to be, the purpose of life, the afterlife, ect. ect. one cannot corroborate them in any coherent fashion. For example, I can be a Vegetarian Christian, I cannot be a Sikh Christian. Religions are defined by a series of undeniable tenets that result in that religion's teachings, beliefs and practices. Violating any of these teachings, beliefs and practices will result in your nonadherence to that religion (in Christianity this is called a "sin"). All followers of that religion must agree with and affirm those undeniable tenets and while some religions have debatable tenets, the undeniable ones are NOT up for discussion. Religions DO have a moral aspect attached to them. What a religion teaches about morality determines how it's followers behave.

For example, Christianity says that all forms of theft is a sin. Therefore it is immoral to steal and therefore if a Christian commits theft, they are violating the teachings of Christianity and have committed a sin. Followers of any religion cannot pick and choose which tenets they wish to follow and which they do not. Religions appeal to an authority figure, be they a God or Gods, A High Priest or Priestess, A Plain of existence or a metaphysical concept such as balance. ALL religions appeal to some sort of authority from which their teachings, beliefs and practices come. That authority (if they are personified) are usually the examples of how the religion is to be understood and executed. Gautama Buddha is the EXAMPLE Buddhist, therefore ALL Buddhists seeks to be like Gautama Buddha. Jesus Christ is the EXAMPLE Christian, therefore ALL Christians seek to be like Jesus. Because of this, religions CANNOT be open to opinions in regards to their teachings.

Below the top authorities are smaller authorities (Priests, Leaders, ect. ect.) whose task is to make sure the followers are adhering to the tenets, teachings, practices ect. ect. And to encourage their followers in their faith. They are also tasked with admonishing those who don't follow the tenets, speaking against those who misrepresent the tenets and explain the tenets to those who are unaware of them. All religions (SHOULD) have someone who can explain their beliefs, practices, teachings ect. ect. and why they are good and should be done.

Religions also have a rejection penalty. If your religion does not have a rejection penalty then you are ultimately gaining nothing from adhering to your religion. Example, A Man comes up to you and I and says "I have a proposition for you. You can walk across hot burning coals and I'll give you a million dollars or you can not walk across hot burning coals and I'll give you a million dollars. Which would you do ?". Now you'd scratch your head and ask the sensible question, "Why would I walk across hot burning coals if either option results in me getting a million dollars anyway?". In laymans terms, if your religion doesn't have a rejection penalty, then I get the same benefits as you do without adhering to your religion. Therefore your religion is useless. All religions have reward for following its tenets, this reward is usually given to their followers in the afterlife. All religions (SHOULD) require all recipients of the reward to be followers of that religion (otherwise, what's the point?). In Christianity this reward is 24/7 access to God. Christians call this Heaven. In order to get to Heaven, one must put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ's death for their sins, repent of their sins and follow the tenets of Christianity. If one does not put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ's death for their sins and do not repent of their sins and reject the tenets of Christianity, then they are denied 24/7 access to God in the afterlife, Christians call this Hell.

Religion and ideologies can co-exist as long as the ideology does not take precedent over the religion and and adheres understand that the two are separate. Therefore a Republican Christian and a Democrat Christian can disagree on how to handle the economy but agree that Jesus Christ is God in The Flesh. A Vegetarian Christian can discuss vegetarianism with a Christian who is not a vegetarian and understand that just because that Christian doesn't share their vegetarian ideology, doesn't mean they don't share the same beliefs. Long story short, Religions are NOT SUBJECTIVE, AND ARE NOT BASED UPON OPINION! One may affiliate themselves with any religion they wish but UNLESS THEY ADHERE TO THE TENETS THEY ARE A MEMBER OF THAT RELIGION IN NAME ONLY!

Coming back to my opening statement, since Scientology claims to be compatible with Catholicism, IT CANNOT BE A RELIGION! Since Scientology has no set tenet concerning God, two Scientologist can hold two conflicting views about who God is and how to worship him and both would be 100% correct in their own mind. Any real religion would be 100% clear on their authority figure, who they are and what they desire from us. All Christians believe Jesus Christ is God in Flesh and He seeks our faith and trust. In conclusion, Religion is MORE than an ideology, it is a way of life, and for it's followers it is THE TRUTH about life and reality. What you believe defines your reality, what do you believe?

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