Secret Mojo Dumbs It Down for You

July 27, 2006

Fantasy has worth

Filed under: religion — secretmojo @ 10:42 am

When I read the two comments submitted to my post on the debunking of prayer, I wanted to respond, but decided that it’s rather rude to be overbearing on your own blog, and will therefore let the comments go in their own direction.

However, I’d like to make my opinions clear on this subject. I am not a religious person in any traditional sense, but I do take it personally when anybody tells me I am idiotic when I indulge in fantasy. I believe that many things in our lives, money and government being great examples, depend upon common imagination and faith in the value of something.

I don’t want this to sound like “fantasy doesn’t kill people, people do,” because, unlike guns, there are good fantasies and bad fantasies: not all of them are designed for destruction.

And this is my main complaint of angry atheist arguments that denounce anything remotely related to religions that, admittedly, have a poor human rights record. I do not include Sam Harris in this category, for those of you who know him (even though he might call me one of those moderates that need prompt elimination).

Fantasy is useful, and sometimes critical, to a functioning society. Religion isn’t the whole of it, but it can be a part of it. There are religions out there that are not filled with hatred or stupidity or “Flat Earth” arguments which deny scientific advances. There are some that, despite an ideology of love and pacifism, get overtaken by hate mongers. The complaints filed against a disdainful, harmful religion are valid. Denouncing bigotry-wielding religious folk is valid as well. But complaints filed against fantasy itself are not.

Many societal objectives can be achieved without religion (or fantasy), it is true. I can also tell a story without words, without moving pictures, by sound only, or as a series of stick figures. Yet, I have enough humility not to denounce radio drama because it cannot accommodate action sequences, but to judge it on its own merits, case by case. People get at what they need through different means, and prayer is a medium, not an ideology.

That is why I reject comparing prayer to pure chance, and am offended when “idiot” and patronizing “normal, intelligent” verbiage is used to make me feel silly for choosing a way of giving my own life meaning. If I do not hurt anyone, and furthermore rail against hurting people, then my acts or non-acts of praying, casting spells, wishing on a horseshoe, or rubbing a rabbit’s foot should make as much difference to an atheist as my watching American Idol or picking my toenails in the bathtub, and he oversteps his bounds by instructing me where my shame must lie. It reminds of jerks in high school who tease others because they don’t wear the “proper” clothes; perhaps this is another reason why it makes me angry.

Finally, it should be said that taking the website seriously was my problem. I recognize I could dismiss these arguments internally. But, publishing my resistance hopefully allows a few more people to retain the beliefs that give them meaning, without succumbing to the “isolated logic, sweeping conclusion”-type arguments put forth on sites like those.

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