Saturday, December 12, 2009

The High Cost Of Belief

There was a time not long ago when the Catholic Church held Jewish children ransom until the parents agreed to have them converted to the Catholic faith. But most of the Jewish parents allowed no such thing! Of course the "evil" of extorting the parents to begin with need not even be mentioned, but something else should. Had the Jewish parents simply acquiesced to the demands of the Church, their children would have been promptly returned after said religious "conversion" rites were performed.

I know the idea of the Jewish parents conceding to the demands of the Catholic Church angers many because it "holds hostage" their cherished Jewish beliefs. And rightfully so, they should have been allowed to "believe" whatever they so chose, free of intimidation. Then I'm afraid SO SHOULD HAVE THE CATHOLIC CHURCH!

Of course many, including myself, will claim the Catholic Church's intimidation tactics were beyond reproach. But I think this "blackmailing" tactic was a genuine, even non-malicious part of its doctrine, or so the Church believed.

Herein lies the dilemma: if one sympathizes with those that choose to "believe" in Judaism or anything else for that matter, he should likewise sympathize with the beliefs of the Catholic Church. Which in this case compelled it to hold the children ransom for their own sake: TO SAVE THEM FROM ETERNAL DAMNATION! Or so the Church believed.

This example perfectly illustrates how contradictory beliefs create conflict which would otherwise be absent. Eliminate either (or perhaps ideally both) of 2 contradictory views and there is no conflict!

A most important consideration needs to be addressed. Since most people "respect" some but not all beliefs, what does this really say about belief itself? That the goodness or badness of any given belief has NOTHING to do with the belief itself. IT HAS EVERYTHING TO DO WITH THE BEHAVIOR IT ENGENDERS. This is why most people feel compelled to "respect" a kind and generous person's Islamic or Christian beliefs but NOT the beliefs of an Islamic terrorist or Christian abortion clinic bomber!

Furthermore, if it is belief that is respected, what of the uncommonly kind and generous types that essentially believe nothing? Are they to be unrespected? I think not. Reason being, it is ultimately and only one's behavior that earns respect. Respecting belief is superficial. It is nothing but a distraction from respecting the only thing that matters: behavior.

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