This won’t be an overly long post, as I’ve not spent too much time thinking the topic through (it only popped into my head this morning as I read this story about Sarah Silverman and her sense of politically charged humor). And perhaps, by admitting I’ve not thought it through, I am saying this post should not be written at all.
But what would a Tuesday be without a little something to talk about?
So, with that being said, I was wondering this morning if the end of any system of belief, be it Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Atheist, whatever, necessarily ends up in theocracy. Meaning that no matter how much a system of belief may state its intention/desire/doctrine for human beings to be free of systemic coercion, the system itself – and the desire for people to convert to its teaching – means freedom is not possible.
I wrestle with this as a Christian. My faith in Christ and the teachings of Christ mean that I am committed to living my life under the authority of both. Which means I am opposed to certain ideas or behaviors. Which means that I find myself in conflict with other people who hold to ideas or behaviors I don’t agree with.
Now, theoretically, there doesn’t have to be conflict. After all, the Bible (and in particular the New Testament) makes it abundantly clear that human beings are, in fact, possessed of free will; this means that they are capable of rejecting anything they like (or, if you want to be positive, believing anything they like). Which means we are free to disagree without the universe imploding.
Or something like that.
But if what I believe really is what is true about reality and all other systems of belief are in some form or fashion detrimental to your life, then letting you live outside of reality is not only dangerous for you, it’s fundamentally wrong.
So here’s where the question of theocracy comes into play.
(Or maybe fideocracy? The rule of belief? Since not all belief structures have a god [theos] as a central component? I digress AND I’m making up new words.)
If my system of belief is indeed correct, and your being outside of that system poses a danger to you or to the society of mankind, shouldn’t I make it my mission to bring you into my system of belief? Shouldn’t I do whatever it takes to make you see that your way is hurtful and adherence to my belief is best?
If that sounds familiar, then you’re up on your current geopolitical affairs.
Most of us would say that we don’t want someone else to impose their beliefs on us; we would argue, in fact, that it is our right to believe whatever we wish – whether that means Christ, or Shiva, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or the Great Space Nothing. Most of us would fight to the death to be able to live as we so choose.
Which brings me back to my question: if we’re so willing to fight for our right to live with our own beliefs, and to make sure that those beliefs are respected by all, then all systems of belief end up trying to set themselves up as THE system of belief.
In essence, we’re all working towards theocracy/fideocracy.
What do you think: is it possible for competing systems of belief to co-exist?