Analytical Religion

Regular readers probably have wondered before why this site is called The Hall of Fame Index. It’s a fair question. The truth is I’m too lazy and unskilled to change it to something else. I don’t have a creative name to call it yet and I don’t have the expertise to make a switch in WordPress. Yes, I’m sure it’s easy. Maybe if I knew there was a huge audience waiting for me then i’d do it. I suspect that’s not the case.

Statistical analysis is somewhat of a passion of mine. it’s taken a backseat lately to these commentaries, work, and general life. However, that kind of thinking does impact my political and social thinking. So, I guess I’m a homeless man’s Nate Silver. If I were to put it more charitably (and accurately), I’d say I have his mode of thinking without the skill set.

This came up when I read a post on Facebook that was clearly over the top and yet made an interesting point. The whole idea was that anti-vaxxers are not exclusively religious, but many wrap their opinions on vaccines in a veil of religion. God will protect them. When God doesn’t protect them then it was just their time to go. The writer called it “self-rapture”. They took the point a step too far when they made the connection that when someone kills someone else because of a deeply held belief they have then they could be called a terrorist.

This ignores the point that terrorists know they are killing others and use their religion as justification. In this case, you have people that choose to believe they have some kind of protective coating that comes from God. Therefore, they don’t knowingly infect others because they don’t feel they personally can be infected. The crux comes down to the word choice. Are they completely deluding themselves or simply finding a convenient way to rationalize it? This is of course the 64,000 dollar question.

These folks and terrorists do have one thing in common. Most devout Muslims (buying into the stereotype) do not buy into the death cult idealism. They are basically peaceful people. Similarly, the further up the church hierarchy you go the more mainstream the beliefs on the virus. The pope has frequently recommended the vaccine, masking, and social distancing. The vast majority of the Catholic Church’s hierarchy has done the same. The mainline Protestant religions have done so as well. Sure, there are some local nutjobs here and there, but the vast majority preach the same thing as the CDC and other scientific experts.

This all hit me when looking at our priest and deacon mask up over the last several months. They’ve recommended everyone in the congregation mask up even if they can’t mandate it. So, anyone refusing to get the vaccine and/or refusing to wear a mask isn’t doing so based on a commonly held religious belief. At least it isn’t held by the majority of Christians. One’s definition of common may vary from person to person.

If one applies an analytical bent on this thing they would acknowledge that if most Christians don’t adhere to these beliefs then these beliefs are not wholly Christian. It is true that some Christians obviously espouse these beliefs and therefore some others will follow as a result. In a way, that is not dissimilar to the radical Muslims that buy into death for the infidels. From there, it’s just a question of how far one is willing to go to see those beliefs play out. In some cases, people quietly hold those beliefs and simply root from the sidelines. In other cases, they actually get in the game and cause real damage.

In both cases, the question comes back to the nature of God. In one case, the question is whether God is a tribal God that prefers one group over another. In the other case, the question is how much control does God exert over our lives. I suppose we could ask if God were capable of preventing tragedy, but that sounds like blasphemy. So, I prefer to think of it as how God works in these situations.

Miracles from heaven are few and far between. Miracles that happen through human works are an almost daily occurence. When a doctor uses his or her knowledge to save a patient does that not come from God? When someone bravely intervenes and saves someone in danger is that not a gift from God? When our vast knowledge helps create life saving vaccines and other life saving medicines where exactly does that knowledge come from? Does it in fact come from the one who created us?

These so-called fundamentalists (others have called Christian Taliban) ignore these human miracles in favor of the heavenly one that likely will never come. Again, it’s not a case of capability. It’s just not necessary. God gave us a vaccine. God gave us masks. He created us with an inquisitive mind that is able to discover these answers. That’s the only miracles we need. All that being said, these folks aren’t terrorists. Still, they have existed for generations. They are the ones waiting for an obvious sign from above, when the signs are here all around them.

Author: sbarzilla

I have written three books about baseball including The Hall of Fame Index. I also write for You can follow me on twitter @sbarzilla.

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