Saturday, 15 October 2011

Leonidas on Religion (Pt. V) - Rationalisations

I was talking about this with a very close and amazing friend of mine just yesterday, and now that I think about it, I'm surprised I haven't talked about it much before. This is the topic of religious rationalisations, and I think it's one we all need to pay a bit more attention. Especially Google Chrome, as it's telling me I spelled it wrong...

Here's the scenario. A person falls ill - of, say, cancer - and is prayed for. They survive. Now who is responsible for this? God, of course, God healed them, God made them better. But say they die. Now what? Well, according to a religious apologetic, the following:

  • You didn't pray hard enough.
  • The devil interfered.
  • God must have a plan for that person.
  • God wants them to be closer to him in heaven.
The last one was the one my friend used when I questioned her about it. So then I asked "If he wants them closer to him, why heal anyone?" I can't remember what she said, but it rang along the same lines as the previous responses.

This is why I find religion so difficult to swallow. At every question there is an "answer", but it isn't an answer at all, it's a rationalisation, often drawn out of thin air, or from hearsay, or even from the Bible, but a rationalisation nonetheless. An explanation given to provide an answer, but with no actual basis for that explanation. Here's an irreligious example:

Steve is a model employee, works hard, does overtime, and everything he can to ensure he won't lose his job. So why does he? His friend offers the explanation "You didn't work hard enough." That's not a genuine answer, it's another rationalisation. His friend doesn't understand the situation, he just came up with a response that fits and made it sound defensible.

The same thing happens with religion, and it becomes glaringly obvious when all the different sects start throwing their hats into the ring. Catholics say the cancer patient died because "We didn't pray hard enough," Protestants say "It was God's will", Westboro Baptist Church members say "Go' damn bastard di'n't hate enough faggots." A rationalisation isn't always bad if it's based on some kind of real evidence, but the problem is, religious rationalisations rarely ever are. They're used to solve a problem as if they really do, but they don't.

The cancer patient died because the cells in his body were starting to die as a result of those cells multiplying out of control. It wasn't because prayer doesn't work - though it doesn't - and it wasn't because God willed it, or because Satan willed it, or anything to do with a supernatural entity. Cancer patients die because of cancer. They survive due to extensive therapy, support, surgery and sometimes sheer luck.

Nothing is more irrational than to complicate it with religion.

~Love Leonidas

Edit: Now that I think about it, this is very similar to what I was talking about in Part III of Leonidas on Religion

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