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Monday, January 31, 2005

Religion and Exclusivity

It's interesting,they say love overcomes all. In real life, this is obviously not the case, regardless of how many feel-good movies à-la-The Prince and Me or whatever the most recent film is along those lines. But I want to address a particular aspect of love not overcoming all, and that is the point of religion.

What a sticking point that one is, eh? Eddie Izzard jokes, in Dress to Kill, about how the British royal family always marries internally (the specific line was `Are you a royal family? Are you a royal member? Well, then you can marry me 'cause you're same gene pool, and our IQs will go down the toilet.'). Now, naturally, the part about IQs going down the toilet isn't an apt description about what occurs when religious intermarriage occurs. It's been happening for long enough that, were it to be the cause of intellectual reduction, the human race would most probably have returned to the trees by now.

Nevertheless, most people who are faithful to their religions will, from my personal observations, not marry outside of their religion or a reasonably similar one. What do I mean by reasonably similar? Though less common than Jewish-Jewish marriages, a marriage between a Jew and a Christian is probably more common than that between a Jew and a Muslim.

Why, though? Why this exclusivity? Why would someone make a decision on a relationship based on religion? It's an interesting question, and I'm willing to try and put forth an answer. Namely, children.

Not all couples want to have children. But, those that do want to (note that I say want to, not actually necessarily have) and who plan ahead in life will see the obstacles to be overcome when it comes to children, especially when the relationship involves two diametrically opposite religious views (i.e., one of the two believing in some variant of montheism and the other being an atheist). Because what do you teach your child? Do you take them to Church? Naturally, the religious person will say yes. But what about the atheist? Does he not care about his child being `brainwashed' (because that's what most of us probably consider Church as a vehicle for; I certainly do1)?

The ideal compromise would be, of course, for each member of the couple to agree to teach their child their own point of view. Faced with both of them, the child's world view would be more complete and, as he or she matured, he or she would be able to follow the path that seemed most logical to him or her. Unfortunately, some people don't trust to the process of gradual learning and the later process of choice. After all, humans are naturally evil. Thus, if given the choice, they will go the evil way. At least, that's one way to look at it.

Me, I'm of the view that humans are naturally rational. If it seems rational to them that religion is an appropriate explanation, there we go. If they perfer science, there it is. And if they go for both, that's equally as acceptable.

Regardless, the ideal compromise is probably rarely one that will be seen. The atheist will, of course, not have a problem with it - he or she would have taught the child at home anyway. But the religious person is so used to the presence of Church that they will most often not like that compromise, or simply outright refuse to go for it.

In the end, the choice is one for each individual relationship. But this is, in my opinion, one of the worst obstacles to be faced with. In fact, it is beyond that: it is at the same time the most divisive and most useless of obstacles to a relationship. Because the above compromise exists, and it is an easy one to follow. Really, what causes it to fail is insecurity in one's own beliefs. In one's faith. Which is an interesting failure, really, since the very foundation of religion is faith.

1- Brainwashing means, of course, consciously trying to eradicate other ideas through the use, in the case of the church and the mosque and other such places, of hazy words such as `evil' and scary places such as Hell and nifty incentives such as Heaven - ways to get around solid proof. Granted, religion itself is not based on proof, and that is part of the idea - you have to have faith. But then again, that could almost be perceived as yet another contrivance. The point is, one who truly has faith in their beliefs does not need another to explain what Jesus or his disciples meant or what Mohammed may have tried to say. In my eyes, the truly religious (not the evangelicals, mind you, the religious - there is, in fact, a difference) can interpret the Word of God, as put forth by whatever holy book they may have, on their own, and will understand that there are others who will not agree with their interpretation. Their agreement is inconsequential. With true faith, one can be self-assured in one's interpretation.

You do have to admit that an atheist talking theology is rather amusing...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

...even more rediculous to come across one who speaks of the wonders of his or her most recent relationship due to their similar religious (not political or moral or even spiritually, really) beliefs.

12:57 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

So I've been trying to decide for about two days whether you had misinterpreted my post or you were simply making a general point. I've decided to assume it's the former case, so I'll point out that I never mentioned a specific relationship of mine. This post was motivated, if nothing else, out of the frustration this exclusivity presents to the person who is in the minority (like myself, an atheist) when faced with trying to start a relationship. Because I, at least, do have to consider that kind of thing before even trying to go for a relationship.

11:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi My Name Is SherLock. Yup that's Sherlock Holmes! Now, You do realize that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam worship the same God? Do you know that Toast and Mayonaise tasts really scrumptous? I bet you didn't!

Sherlock Holmes!

8:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi My Name Is SherLock. Yup that's Sherlock Holmes! Now, You do realize that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam worship the same God? Do you know that Toast and Mayonaise tasts really scrumptous? I bet you didn't!

Sherlock Holmes!

8:48 PM  
Blogger Sherlock Holmes said...

Whoops sa daisy I posted trice... My bad!

9:00 PM  

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