The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Barefoot Living

Better watch out, Jesus Christ is coming

I believe that the world is round because a long time ago someone told me so, and because a lot of other people in my life also believe that the world is round. I’ve never actually put myself in a position from which I could take in the globular whole of the earth, but I nonetheless accept my belief that the world is round without question.

At the beginning of our lives, we are all steeply inclined to gobble up whatever beliefs our parents serve to us in spite of any number of glaring problems eating away at the root of these beliefs. Especially when they make us feel good, we tend to hold onto comfortable beliefs without ever caring to know how or why we came to believe them in the first place.

It is the purpose of this article to raise important questions surrounding the origins and validity of beliefs in general, eventually focusing on the gamut of religious beliefs. I would declare this article successful if you walk away asking yourself, “What do I believe, and why do I believe it?”

I believe that if I release a ball from up above my head, it will fall to my feet at an accelerating rate of 9.8 meters per second because I have observed this phenomenon many times in my life. It is possible that a ball released from up above my head could fly off to the side, but this outcome seems totally unlikely next to my mountain of personal evidence to the contrary. This form of everyday, verifiable belief holds everyday, practical value, but it’s also no big whoop, so we should move on to something juicier.

Most Christians brought up in America believed in Santa Claus for a portion of their early lives. When I say “Santa Claus,” I mean a man in red suit who flies around the entire world delivering toys to children who behave themselves. Looking back at that wide-eyed period in my life, steeped in magic and monsters, I can’t help but laugh at all the glaring obstacles that would prevent Santa Claus from performing his annual duties. Just to name a few: How could Santa’s elves get the massive quantities of raw materials, or the legal copyrights, to produce all the modern-day toys that appeared under my and everyone else’s trees? By what means could Santa possibly collect and organize adequate surveillance on all the children of the world so as to determine their good or bad status? And for that matter, what could possibly motivate an old man to undergo this strenuous ordeal year after year?

I never bothered to ask any of these questions, but if I had, the answer would have invariably fallen to the unquestionable proliferation of magic in the world. Of course! The unbounded power of magic could rise above all obstacles with little or no need for explanation beyond itself. Magic, magic and more magic! What more does a child need to hear for his or her satisfaction?

Do you see where I’m going with this? For the sake of clarity, I’ll spell it out plainly: Most people accept the tenants of their religious upbringing for the same reason that most people believed in Santa Claus… because their parents said so! It doesn’t matter at all how utterly ridiculous a particular belief may be because it need not be grounded in reality when initially swallowed, and it need not be undermined by questions to be sustained.

If we could only take a step back and examine our beliefs from a different perspective, we would almost certainly see faults in the structure of our beliefs that we never took notice of before. Here are just a few tough questions to chew on: 1) Is God a racist? Although purported to be the God of all creation, He nonetheless identifies himself as the God of Abraham, and affiliates himself with a chosen people. So does God favor one ethnic group over another? If so, why? And if not, why would he have revealed himself to just one group of people at that time in history?

Perhaps that question no longer applies in today’s world when word from the God of Abraham can be found everywhere, and is available to all peoples. But we should nonetheless understand the origins and inequities inherent to this system of belief.

2) Does anyone really deserve salvation or damnation? For the same reason that a person raised in the church is much less inclined to become Hindu, any of the billion or so people raised Hindu in the world today must be less inclined to convert to Christianity despite threats of hell and brimstone. If believing that Jesus was the son of God is a prerequisite for getting into heaven, then some people must have an unfair advantage over others by no merit of their own.

3) Could God be unfair? Questions of this nature abound, and need only a moderately discriminating eye to uncover. Don’t turn away from them! Examine them to their logical conclusions, and move on from there. Undergo the pain of spiritual growth, and revel in the resulting changes to your identity.

A changing mind is not a faulty mind. Only a mind that asks questions derived from new evidence without changing is faulty.

Keven O’Toole is a junior philosophy major and can be reached at [email protected].

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