Some faiths really are better — I accept those that uplift & improve (e.g., Christianity); I reject those that control & destroy (e.g., Climate Change).
On my recent trip, I ended up talking to a very bright man who believes unquestioningly that Big Foot (aka Sasquatch) exists — and he doesn’t stop with believing in just one Big Foot in the Pacific Northwest. He believes, instead, that there are vast colonies of these creatures spread throughout North America. According to this man, he personally saw Big Foot’s tracks in the snow once, gigantic deep imprints that were five feet apart and that proved that a giant hominid had headed up the mountainside at a run. He also cites to other people’s anecdotal evidence of run-ins with Big Foot.
When I asked how it is that no sightings have ever been corroborated and why nobody has been able to produce hard evidence of their existence, he had an answer: The United States government is hiding Big Foot colonies with help from the Air Force. If you’re wondering why the government is doing this, the man will tell you that the government is afraid that, because Big Foot colonies are the original indigenous hominids in America, if the government ceased hiding their existence, America would be obligated to return the entire United States to the Sasquatch people.
The fact that the U.S. government has successfully resisted returning America to the Native Americans who were here before Europeans came, did not impress him. When I offered that it was probable that the government would resist Big Foot’s demands for the return of its land, he told me that the risk of losing in a legal battle with Sasquatch was too great. The government had to keep its Big Foot secret.
The man was also unfazed by the fact that hundreds, if not thousands, of people would have to be in on this secret to make it work. It’s not just those patrolling the regions where Big Foot lives who need to be silent. According to this man, America’s teaching hospitals also have special secret wings devoted to Sasquatch health care. Even as Americans are demanding single payer care and vets are dying on VA waiting lists, the Big Foot people are getting special fully-funded care from a cadre of people, all of whom are keeping their mouths shut.
In case I haven’t made it obvious, this man’s belief in Big Foot is a matter of faith. He’s created an unfalsifiable premise: Big Foot exists and the fact that nobody can prove Big Foot’s existence is proof, not that Big Foot does not exist, but that the entire United States government, and thousands of people, are successfully keeping a very big secret.
This man is also an atheist who, while accepting as true the fossil record and Big Bang, believes that aliens from another universe seeded our universe with life. Again, he has a lot of “facts” to support this theory, but no “fact” can ever truly be challenged or disproven. Point out a weakness and he just shifts to another “fact” or theory.
I learned all of the above, not by challenging the man, but by questioning him. I had no interest in trying to convert him to the “non-Sasquatch” viewpoint because I consider his Big Foot belief system harmless, as I do his “alien world seeding” belief system. I just wanted to understand his beliefs. He’s happy with what he believes and the fact that he believes these things has no negative impact on me. It’s all good.
On the same trip, I fell into conversation with a couple of very devout Born Again Christians (one of whom I wrote about yesterday). I don’t need to spell out their specific beliefs here because they are familiar to everyone. The only slightly unusual twist to their belief system is that they are in that small minority of the faithful who take the Bible so literally they are convinced that the world came into being a little over 6,000 years ago.
What really amused me was that during the course of a little party, the Big Foot believer chose to tweak the Christians about the absence of evidence for such things as the tablets contain the Ten Commandments or proof of Jesus’s resurrection. (Incidentally, a documentary called Patterns of Evidence : The Exodus makes a compelling argument that the Exodus was a real historical event that modern archaeologists have missed because they’ve mis-dated which Pharaoh is the one with whom Moses dealt. If one looks at the archaeological evidence before jumping to conclusions about Pharaoh, one finds evidence of some of the Exodus events in the Bible.)
To see someone with a closed belief system about Big Foot and aliens try to get into a debate with people who have a closed belief system about the Holy Trinity . . . well, let’s just say that I admired the Christians for refusing to be baited. They understand that faith is faith and that it’s enough that they believe.
I stayed out of the debate because, as with the Sasquatch guy, I think the Christian couple are happy with their belief and I’m happy too. The Christian couple does not believe that salvation requires them to go out and convert through fire and sword. Nor do they believe that their faith mandates that I live by their rules or pay a penalty for failing to doing so.
Additionally, given that both of these Christians had truly malignant childhoods, their faith has enabled them to become decent, productive citizens. I’d be an idiot to try to tear down their belief system.
The Sasquatch guy is being silly too, because the virtue of these Christians is that they’re tolerant of his beliefs. If he destroys their Christian faith, they might turn to something much worse for Sasquatch guy and for the rest of us.
While I’m okay with Sasquatch- and Jesus- based faiths, because the former is harmless and (to my mind) the latter is beneficial to society, I’m not okay with other belief systems that exact a negative cost on non-believers. Those belief systems are Islam and Climate Change. And yes, I know that Islam is presented as a bona fide moral religion while Climate Change is presented as “science.” In fact, though, those are misrepresentations. Islam is, instead, a faith-based political system while Climate Change is a faith-based economic world view.
Both Islam and Climate Change are non-falsifiable theories. To the Muslim faithful, Mohammed’s actions and holy status are as inviolable as Christ’s resurrection and divinity are to Christians. And to the Climate faithful, no amount of evidence that their computer theories and extremist predictions are consistently wrong matters. In both cases, to point out or question falsities or inconsistencies only brings down a hail of arguments and data reasserting the same theories. One expects that from Islam, which openly proclaims itself a faith; it’s more troublesome from the Climate Changistas, who insist that they are grounded in science, even as they reject the most basic scientific principles.
I could stomach the lack of logic behind Islam and Climate Change were it not for the fact that both exact enormous costs from unbelievers. In Islam’s case, if you oppose the belief system, you’re either murdered outright, or you find yourself raped, enslaved, taxed, and/or deprived of whatever minimal civil rights manage to exist in the Muslim world. Inn the case of Climate Change, the faithful have an inquisition that sees “deniers” destroyed economically or by reputation, all the while exacting onerous burdens on our economy and returning our world to one lacking electricity, heating, air conditioning, fossil-based mobility, etc.
The reality behind the Church of Climate Change is that the Changistas’ so-called “green” energy solutions will not feed the starving people of the Middle East, who embarked upon a doomed revolution when their food crops were diminished in order to grow biofuels for the West. “Green” energy solutions will not provide jobs or financial succor for people with marginal incomes who can no longer afford the expensive gas prices Obama brought to America in his pursuit of a magical climate change fix. “Green” energy solutions will not prevent poor people in the Western world from freezing in the winter and cooking in the summer, two scourges we thought had vanished with the fossil fuel revolution. And most importantly, “green” energy solutions will not help anyone at all when First World wealth is transferred to Second and Third world cronies and kleptocrats, all of whom pay lip service to the green revolution when the only green they care about is the money pouring into their private bank accounts.
Humans seem programmed to believe in the logically unbelievable. When their belief systems are benign or, as is the case with the Judeo-Christian belief system, a benefit to humankind, I, an unbeliever, am neutral about or actively support them. However, those whose belief systems require them to impose their doctrines on others, no matter how painful that imposition may be, need to be challenged at every turn. Eventually, even a person living in a closed system when it comes to Big Foot or Climate Change will prove to have that tiny chink in the armor through which logic can creep, undermining the entire belief infrastructure.