Microcosmic debate

My boss and I have been discussing and debating the essential cultural divide that is happening between him and me, between the Red and Blue states and the West versus the East. That debate is simply a conservative versus liberal approach to reality.

In overly simplified terms the divide is between tradition and progression; between religion and reason. The conservative mind believes that liberals have destroyed any previous reverence we used to have for tradition and the liberals believe that conservatives are attempting to negate science and reason as paths of knowledge.

My boss and I agree on a lot of things to be sure, but he and I differ greatly when it comes to this morality and God thing. For one reason or the other I have a serious distaste for religion and the concept of God. Now, my boss thinks this is because I have a problem with authority, which I do. However, this is not why I have a disdain for the concept. The real reason is simple: the concept of God has been misused for centuries by those in power (or who desire power) as a tool and instrument to hurt/harm/destroy peoples throughout history.

I know from personal friends and family that religion can be a wonderful thing that helps people to cope with life and stress. That is beautiful. However, the conservative seems to me to be turning to God as moral compass and that just does not make sense to me. By turning to God as compass we create 2 problems: (i) a false dichotomy of us and them and (ii) a regionally constructed and thus reasonably unfounded form of morality. “I am right because I have reverence for (my) God. My God’s rules are right and fair. You are wrong and evil because you have your own God that is different from mine.” I mean where is the end of this? Is everyone going to have to find the same God? Are all religions going to have to strip down and conform themselves to some empty shell of vague abstractions?

It seems obvious to me that given these questions the only answer is to attempt to find morality within the power of man’s reason. You see, God is not a reasonable concept. It is not something you can argue and debate with someone because it is all based on beliefs and transmitted values. In order that something be universal it will have to be based in intellect and reason. Will that convince everyone? Probably not. But at least we can all then begin with the same foundation. The myriad concepts of God in the world will never serve a solid foundation for the future. Nietzsche was right, God really is dead. He was attacked by reason, insulted by those who hide behind his image and finally slain by science.

Are the conservatives all wrong? Of course not. As I told my boss (and stole from one of the Matrix movies), “the only way to get there (the future) is together.” No perfect system exists. People are different. The best thing we can hope for is to debate with each other civilly and to find a middle ground. Machiavelli knew this. A republic must create a stable mode of discussion/debate/competition that will allow for sides to be heard and compromises to be reached.

The conservatives are right that we have essentially destroyed tradition. It is the liberal movement that has thrust us into this world where we hardly consider things anymore. The old is to be discarded and the new embraced. This seems to now be an unconscious axiom in our minds, but we hardly stop to consider the consequences of all this rapid change. Things do need to change to be sure, but perhaps we should all just slow down a bit and better think through what it is we do and what it is going to do to us.

’til next time…

One Response to “Microcosmic debate”

  1. camilo Says:

    Question: Do you think this cultural divide between the left and right in America is confined to their different understandings of religion and reason, or does it extend into other areas as well? If it does, what are other points of cultural schism between liberals and conservatives which are making rational public debate more and more difficult. Please answer in a coherent, well-developed essay, using additional sheets of paper if necessary.

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