Politics and religion, questioning the similarity of my positions

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by Neil Godfrey

Julien Benda

I have often questioned myself over a certain kind of similarity of my positions on both religion and politics. The similarity has forced me to ask myself whether I am responding to “everything” from some sort of knee-jerk desire to be different. So I am constantly questioning and testing my own methods, facts and assumptions to see if I am being as fair as I can hope to be. How likely is it that any of my views might be sustainable after I am gone?

My political views are more easily subject to reality checks than my views on the Bible. “Political” can be a confusing term. What I mean by it are my views on human rights and justice. People suffering, being dispossessed of their homes and rights, and being killed, are objective realities that one has to simply say Yes or No to. Surprisingly, most people do say Yes to these things in the real world, even though they say “no” to them in theory. The reasons vary. But for many, it is because their grasp of reality is shaped by their “tribe”, or the larger groups with which they primarily identify.

I witnessed a classic example of the dynamics of this some years back when I attended presentations first by an Israeli and then by a Palestinian expressing their different perspectives on the conflict between them. The Israeli presentation was held in an upper floor lecture room, with security guards posted at several points one had to pass to reach the venue. The identities of each attendee were recorded. The talk spoke of grand sweeps of historical and geographic portraits, and fear and threats. Then after several delays, the Palestinian view was allowed to be expressed. This was held in an open ground-level hall, with no security guards, no recording of identities of those attending, and the talk was all about personal experiences, daily life, photos of people (not maps), harassments and punishments.

One side spoke of fears and a historical view; the other side spoke of daily life and personal experiences.

That is, one side spoke of beliefs; the other of evidence and facts.

And that, I am coming to realize, is exactly the same schizoid dichotomy at the heart of biblical scholarship, too. Facts are replaced by “criteria” in order to manufacture “facts” to support beliefs.

This morning I caught up with a statement by Ken O’Keefe on his P10K website: Continue reading “Politics and religion, questioning the similarity of my positions”