Belief is hallowed in our country.
Maybe a bit too much.
"I believe for
every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows..." Nice. Inspirational. Not
true, but who cares?(1) Statements of belief in any credo, philosophy,
experience or person have always been sacrosanct to Americans. When "I
believe" is uttered with any amount of intensity, it commands respect.
"I believe in Joe Blow" rings with commitment. Sometimes "I
believe" challenges the listener: NOT believing is decidedly wrong.
"It's what we BELIEVE!" is probably the most ubiquitous response to any criticism of religion. Visitors to the Creation Museum in Kentucky chimed "This is what we BELIEVE!" in defense of their prideful support. Many people divide the country into "us" and "them: "believers" and "non-believers." Belief has, in effect, become a catchall defense mechanism as well as a rally cry. It is a weapon for both defense and attack. And sometimes it becomes an unassailable fortress in war.(2)
It's no wonder that
criticism of any belief system (especially involving blind belief) is almost
immediately looked upon with an enormous amount of contempt. And if you can't
stand the contempt, well, tough - you made a conscious decision to question the
system and it's your fault if you're held in contempt. True
believers (and they are all true believers) don't take criticism very
So what if some
belief is such crapola, such bullshit, such cretinous crud that its mere
existence labels the believer as someone uneducated and out of touch with
reality or -worse - an unmitigated moron? Young earth Creationism is perhaps a
prime example: the Creation Museum in Kentucky, in its quest to somehow
"adjust" science with belief, has a Tyrannosaurus Rex blissfully
chomping on vegetation in the Garden of Eden. The idea that Adam and Eve may
have romped with Pebbles Flintstone and Bam Bam Rubble has given legitimate
scientists cause to call the museum's reasoning "Yabba Dabba
The ensuing guffaws
were well deserved, but they weren't enough to stop the Museum's creators from
embarking on another piece of WTF: a "lifesize" rendering of Noah's
Another example of
belief that is absolutely ludicrous is snake handling. The practice of snake
handling is still observed in rural parts of Appalachia and the South, with
handlers believing that survival from snake bites gave evidence of grace and
faith. Some handlers have imbibed poisons like strychnine to prove the New
Testament's Mark 16: " and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall
not hurt them." Needless to say, there have been some fatalities in snake
The belief that satanic forces are at work in everything that the believer does not consider God-sanctioned are, for the most part, irrational and ludicrous:
- Evangelist C. Peter Wagner:
...asserts that Catholic saints bring honor to the spirits of darkness, and promotes the burning of their statues in Argentina . Wagner asserts that the Holy Spirit came to his associate, Cindy Jacobs (a "prophet" in Wagner's Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders) and "told her that in [the Argentinian city of] Resistencia they must burn the idols, like the magicians did in Ephesus"
- The founder of Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network, John Benefiel, has posited that the Statue of Liberty is a demonic idol (see video below)(4)
And the belief in a vengeful God always smacks of medieval superstition:
- Pat Robertson proposed that Orlando's Disney World having a "Gay Day" would result in floods, hurricanes "and possibly a meteor."
- Cindy Japan-is--shaped-like-a-dragon Jacobs said that the unusual occurrence of a mass of birds falling dead in Texas was the result of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
Belief and Faith
attitude of faith is the very opposite of clinging to belief, of holding on.
Belief is clinging to a rock in the middle of a stream. Faith is knowing how to
- Alan Watts
Personally, I do not harbor a belief in God. I have, instead, a faith in God inextricably coupled with
humanity: as creations, God is in all of us and faith in humanity is faith in
God. One cannot exist without the other. It is the placement of God beside us,
or rather, above us, that makes "believers" prone to self-loathing
and have an inherent distrust of humanity. (Saint) Augustine of Hippo gave us
the vehicle for self-loathing in Original Sin and its transmission through sex.
"We're all sinners, born in sin" is the great leveling retort for
many Christians who need to dispel any appearance of self-righteousness.