Monday, August 15, 2005

Baiting your friends for fun and profit

One of my coworkers received an unusual assignment from her psychology class. She was to bring up a controversial topic at work (and it could not be about work), then observe her coworkers' reactions and how the controversy developed. She figured that either religion or politics would get a rise out of someone, so she started with religion, and never managed to make it to politics.

A great, as in huge, theological debate ensued between, to use nicknames, the Saint, the Agnostic, and the Atheist. The Saint and the Atheist actually got on quite well, once they realized that none of the words they were using meant anything to the other. What does "sin" mean to the Atheist, who doesn't believe it exists? And how can God be evil to the Saint, who believes that evil is the absence of God? The Agnostic, however, received the worst of both worlds. The most interesting response of the myriad topics of the night was the Agnostic's question to the Saint, how do you know which belief is the right one? The answer: hope.

An atheist or agnostic cannot have hope. For an atheist, it all ends. For an agnostic, it might, but even if it doesn't, how does believing that there is a supreme being(s) help one worship and serve the correct one? It doesn't, yet an agnostic still believes that they are good enough to be rewarded. How do they determine whether they are good enough? It is a consequence of their own feeling, conscious, intuition, or what have you. Therefore, an agnostic is the final arbiter of right and wrong. Jiminy Cricket is god. What hope is there in serving nothing or serving yourself?

Of the religions, how can one determine which is true? The Saint was reminded of Groucho Marx saying that he wouldn't join any club that would accept him as a member. In a similar vein, the Saint said that any Supreme Being(s) that demanded anything less than perfection was not truly supreme. How could one hope in an imperfect god? But, on the other hand, looking at one's own self, no one could claim that they were perfect, for if such was the case, they would be the god. So now they arrived at an impasse; regardless of how one believed, one could never measure up to the standards of a perfect and just God. There was no hope, unless one didn't have to be perfect, unless one was cleansed through a means other than their own. Thus, the Saint concluded, if one is to have any hope beyond this life, one must be a Christian.


Anonymous Flying Squirrel said...

I love debates like this. They are always interesting and controversial! Hurrah!

I need to get out more...

10:39 PM  

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