Argue Religion, not Politics?

August 24, 2010


All of us eventually realize that one way we change is by taking sides in arguments. But should we?

While arguing over either religion or politics is unlikely to change any opinions, if forced into the situation, I insist on arguing only about religion and never politics. For one thing, there are no new candidates likely to be standing for election in the area of religion. With politics, you have to deal with beliefs often disguised as facts. In religion you have postulates and no one admits to theories.

There is another reason to avoid  arguing over politics.  It’s like a bunch of race drivers arguing over the best line to drive around the race course. Since two cars can’t occupy the same space at the same time, it’s best to agree that the object of the race is first and foremost to get around the track. Competition for that lower spot coming out of the curve is secondary to making it around the curve. We see, all too frequently, the resulting violent elimination when two drivers insist on putting their cars into the same space at the same time. Yeah, we all want our children to grow up healthy and safely, no matter anything else. Focus on that. Don’t play to the excitement of the crowd. It isn’t actually a race if no one finishes.

The three elements that define human discourse might be loosely categorized as: the Absolute, the Relative, and the Provisional. If you analyze any conversation, you can generally come to the conclusion that it’s mostly about religion if there are a lot of references to absolutes(or postulatory ideas); you will conclude that politics is being discussed if the entire discourse seems to flap about on relative grounds; and you know that what’s being discussed is both evolutionary and useful (and possibly educational) if the context of the language is in the provisional.

Thus, political discourse termed in absolutes is basically a religious argument (and needs to be recognized as such) while any other kind of political dialogue is uselessly mired in relativism and can be safely ignored.

Neither religion nor politics belong in the realm of the provisional. We all, as a fractured political body, continue to repeat past mistakes, don’t we? I mean, we build six lane roads to replace two lane roads instead of dealing with the question of organizing ourselves so that we don’t need this kind of transportation mechanism. I rest my case.

All the truly useful and important questions will be resolved provisionally–no more angels on the head of a pin. Questions like, what does it mean to be human? We’re going to change a lot in the next century. Circumstance will drive us to it. There is no way to reject this future. For instance, our genes will change as we learn therapies that survival demands. Other, equally appalling (according to some)  things will happen that we must adapt to. Get on board the learning curve or get eliminated.

Getting back to the beginning of all of this: maybe it’s best not to argue politics because candidates and their policies are all relative, and don’t argue the religious part hoping for change because nothing alters a presumption of natural order. Observe and decide for yourself. That’s all you can do. It’s the provisional way and is, in fact, the very essence of your future. Astronaut Neil Armstrong may have made a statement wiser and more important than he realized at the time he stepped on the moon for the first time. “One small step for mankind” is a very provisional statement.

About charles frenzel

I've been writing all my life. I've also painted, composed, sculpted, contributed to molecular research, advanced some mathematical concepts, lived on a sailboat, and worked for a Nobel Prize winner. Nothing in my life has pleased me more than to share my life with my wife and friend of over forty years.

View all posts by charles frenzel

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