May03 2010

Why NOT Discuss Politics and Religion?


It’s election time again which means that it’s time for voters to begin the process of weighing out the candidates as well as the issues that are up for discussion.  Once again, friends, family members, and co-workers will engage in discussions that tend to come up during a political year.  Unfortunately, conversations of that nature have a tendency to stir up people’s emotions and before long, what started out as a civil discussion often turns into a heated argument.  Eventually, some well-meaning person listening in will try to ‘put out the fire’ by saying, “You see?  That’s exactly why I say that you should never discuss politics and religion!”  But even though people often say such things, there is a very real sense in which everyone brings politics and religion into their normal, day-to-day conversations and they don’t even realize it.

Take religion, for example.  I often hear ‘unbelievers’ say, “Don’t bring religion into this!”  (By that, they usually mean “Don’t bring Christianity or Christian values into this!”)  But the fact of the matter is that even those who would consider themselves “non-religious” have a ‘religious’ view of their own.  The reason that they may not think so is because most people today think of religion as ‘a belief in God’, but such a simple definition is inadequate because there are some religions (such as Buddhism) that do not necessarily believe in God.  So, that brings us back to the question, “What is a religion?”  A religion is fundamentally a worldview, a perspective, a set of assumptions, a ‘lens’ if you will, through which a person looks at everything in life in order to try and explain how all of life fits together in a coherent and comprehensive way.  It is a ‘framework’ through which a person is trying to make sense of the world around them.  This is extremely important to understand because it tells us that everyone, whether they realize it or not, is operating on a set of beliefs (a worldview).  This means that everyone, including the atheist, is ‘religious’ in that sense.  Furthermore, it tells us that ALL views expressed are ‘religiously motivated’ because they are an expression of that person’s worldview.  In other words, any time an individual gives their perspective on a matter in almost any conversation they are, in fact, bringing their religion into the conversation just as much as anyone else!

Even political discussions are not entirely avoidable.  Why?  Because political issues are ultimately about moral principles.  They have to be.  If you don’t believe me, think for a moment about the kind of issues that we typically refer to as ‘political issues’.  Most political issues involve that which is right or wrong, good or bad, just or unjust, fair or unfair- all of which are moral issues.  Even the questions of how and why people should be treated equally are moral questions.  In other words, by what objective moral standard did we determine that it is right (morally) to treat people equally and that it would be immoral to not treat people equally?

So, just as with religion, everyone has a moral point of view and they are asserting their moral point of view every time they use words such as ‘right’, ‘wrong’, ‘fair’, ‘unfair’, ‘just’, ‘unjust’, ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘should’, ‘shouldn’t’, ‘ought’, ‘ought not’, (etc.).   It’s unavoidable.  So, the next time you hear someone insist that people shouldn’t get into discussions about politics and religion, you may want to point out to them that they just did!


Apr19 2010

Being Hypocritical About Hypocrisy


Once again, the Catholic Church is in the news and, once again, it involves allegations of priests within the Church sexually abusing minors.  As would be expected, it has been a feeding frenzy for the media, with each news outlet rushing to outdo the other when it comes to breaking the big story.  There’s really
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Apr05 2010

Can Atheism Make Sense of the Problem of Evil?


British philosopher, mathematician, social critic, and atheist Bertrand Russell once commented, “No one can believe in a good God if they’ve sat at the bedside of a dying child.”  Without a doubt, the image that Russell paints with that statement is one that grips all of us emotionally.  It is, of course, one thing to
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Mar22 2010

Is Happiness the Bottom Line?


“Everyone should have the right to do whatever makes them happy.”  How many times have you heard someone make a statement like that?  In fact, there is a good chance that you have even said it yourself.  Although it is not a new idea by any means it is, nevertheless, enjoying a great deal of
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Mar08 2010

Where Was God? – Part 3


This post is Part 3 in the series “Where was God?”. Click here to start with Part 1. In my last post, I ended by asking the question that is on the minds of so many people today.  “Why does God allow so much evil in our world?  Why doesn’t He remove all of the
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Feb22 2010

Where Was God? – Part 2


This post is Part 2 in the series “Where was God?”. Click here to read Part 1. In an earlier post, I was reflecting on the earthquake disaster in Haiti and I pointed out that when such disasters strike, the one question that seems to emerge more than any other is the question, “Where was
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Feb08 2010

Where Was God? – Part 1


As I write this, I’m sitting down at the airport waiting to board a flight.  On my way through the terminal, I passed by a gift shop and stopped momentarily to see what was on the front page of the newspaper today.  The main story continues to be about Haiti and the rescue attempts that
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Jan25 2010

Who Made God? – Part 2


This post is Part 2 in the series “Who Made God?”. Click here to read Part 1 first. In my previous post, I was talking about a formal debate that I was watching that involved two scientists, one of whom was the famous atheist, Professor Richard Dawkins and the other was Christian theologian, Dr. John
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Jan11 2010

Who Made God? – Part 1


It was one of those rare nights when I didn’t have any commitments, no meetings, no place where I had to be, and no particular plans. I sat down in front of the t.v. with a plate of buffalo wings that I had just picked up on the way home, and reached for the remote.
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  • In today's world, there is a great deal of confusion when it comes to matters of truth, meaning, morality, our origin, and our destiny. The purpose of Renewed Thoughts is to bring clarity to such issues by examining them in light of a Biblical worldview, using the tools of science, philosophy, and critical thinking.