Monday, August 20, 2007

The Post In Which I Agree With Mark Kleiman

Mark Kleiman has a long post in which he discusses his own religious beliefs, or the lack thereof. I don't want to put words in Professor Kleiman's mouth, but he seems to be a "be-nice-to-the-believers" unbeliever, as opposed to P.Z. Myers and Richard Dawkins, who are "stomp-on-'em-with-both-feet" unbelievers.

Intellectually, I suppose Kleiman is right, although my natural inclination is toward the Dawkins/Myers approach. In any case, in discussing his own religious evolution, Kleiman said something that really struck me:

At the seder after my bar mitzvah, my father made what I thought (and still mostly think) was an unanswerable argument in debating Jewish practice with his synagogue-going uncle: "Yossel, are you really telling me that Whatever created the galaxies and the omega-minus particle cares whether or not I eat pork?"

This is a variant on the reason I never found religion particularly plausible. I could never wrap my head around the idea that "Whatever created the galaxies and the omega-minus particle" could possibly care about whether I (or anybody else) worships him. It. Whatever.

I mean, if you posit a Great Architect who built this whole universe, one thing we can know about that being is that it thinks big. No tiny little pocket universe -- we get a universe that is big and vast and wondrous. All this obsessive concern about being worshiped strikes me as being, well, petty. I'll tell you this -- if I could create a whole big universe, I wouldn't get all upset if my creations worshiped a golden calf. Truth be told, I'd probably think it was funny.


The Ridger, FCD said...

I believe the point about pork is that it's a visible silly ritual which proves you belong. Religion is the preeminent divider of people, and outward signs - like jewelry, clothes, hairstyles, and behavior - are favorite ways to distinguish Us from Them.

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