Friday, April 6, 2012

What's God Got To Do With It?

In February of this year I published a book, Dialogues on God: Three Views. So what has God got to do with a blog on democracy, human rights and ethics? Since I am not prepared either to affirm or deny the existence of God, I cannot say. However, beliefs about God and other religious beliefs have a major impact on what people consider to be right or wrong. That, in turn, affects what people do and their political views. You can see this by observing the frequency of the appeals to religious beliefs by those who oppose gay marriage and women’s right to abortions, and the religious sources of those objecting to funding contraceptives. You also see it whenever the President of the United States concludes his speeches with “God bless America.” These are just a few examples.

These dialogues explore beliefs about God from three perspectives, including that of an atheist. It shows how different beliefs about God are linked to different ways of living and apprehending the universe. The three disagreeing dialoguers eventually agree on something quite relevant to democracy. Read the book to find out what it is, and why.

Another way of approaching this subject is an excellent book by Steven R. Prothero, God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World (2010). His book is fairly long, easy to read and very informative; mine is short and, I hope, thought-provoking. I suggest you read both.
Read a review (not paid for) of Dialogues on God: Three Views by The Midwest Book Review.

1 comment:

  1. The dichotomy which I think you make is that between personal and social. Personal is the realm of belief. Social is in the realm of action.
    I don't think this is a solution to the problem you pose. Beliefs are, I think, intensely social. Beliefs, in fact, are mostly based in our common sense -- the sense we don't question but underlies how we act and interact with others.
    Peirce's notion of critical commensensim is a think a useful one for it is where science, which produces knowledge (justified true beliefs) and what you call the personal come together. We live out of communities which we do not normally choose to join -- we come into the world a member of some communities and as we live we may move into new ones and leave old ones.
    Religions, to me, are communities of practice. They are social in nature. If you grow up as a christian you will, i think, always be a Christian -- and the same is the case for other religions. Conversions are seldom and those who do convert are often the most dogmatic of all. Sort of like ex-smokers.
    I find your dialogue interesting if one assumes that God is One God.
    Monotheism is a so dangerous, because once you assert there is one God, then the question is not Is there a God, but What Kind of God is There. I grew up a Christian, but most of my religion now comes from living with someone for more than twenty-five years who grew up in a Buddhist culture. Buddhism is not a religion, at least not in the sense being discussed in your dialogues and there is no God -- or there are lots and lots of gods that are handy for all kinds of situations. His mother lived with us for a dozen years and I saw the simple faith of someone who knew there were lots of gods -- there is spirituality and one should pay attention to them. I think those of simple faith have the most profound faith.
    Thanks for writing this....Ken