Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Organized Religion

Ah, General Conference.  That is the twice-a-year televised meeting that replaces church (except it lasts the entire weekend) in which the apostles and first presidency of the church speak to the entire membership.

Elder Oaks, one of the apostles (there are 12), spoke firmly on the need for organized religion.  His arguments were that every person has two links to god: a personal link of direct communication with god, and a priesthood link through duly ordained church leaders.
He spoke at length about the absolute necessity of both channels.  Notably, the governing of the church cannot be given through personal revelation, but through the predetermined priesthood channels.

I see at least one glaring problem with this that I hadn't noticed before.  Apparently, the purpose of organized religion is to provide an official channel through which the correct workings of organized religion are revealed.  If we didn't have organized religion, how would we know how to run our organized religion?

I don't think I need to expound on the fairly ridiculous nature of this argument.  However, I anticipate certain objections, to which I will preemptively respond:

1) Organized religion provides opportunities for service that individuals would not be able to.
   -While I concede this point, I do not think that well-meaning individuals are incapable of organizing themselves into service groups.  Also, if god wanted things done his way, why not just tell everyone individually what to do, when to show up, what to bring?  I don't think it is necessary to demand something in between these where god tells us how to organize things and sort of prompts some of our leaders where to focus, and THEN we organize ourselves logistically.  Wouldn't it be more error-free if god just took over?  And if error isn't a big deal, why not just let us do our best without halfheartedly meddling?

2) Organized religion helps the believing to strengthen eachother.
  -Once again, I can't entirely refute this point, but as above, why doesn't god just do the supporting?  Aren't we supposed to be ambivalent to the opinions of our fellow man?  Also, doesn't this mindset actually hurt some people, who don't feel like they believe as much but feel pressure to lie about it?  (I have been there)  Is god such a bully that he is fine with peer-pressure, if it will get him his way?

3)  Organized religion keeps religion pure, so we can all agree on doctrine.
  -I again contend that we only need to agree because we are organized into churches.  It seems a bit circular.  The other problem with this is that if god is such a great personal being, why in heaven's name isn't he clear enough to everyone in his instruction that we can all agree?  It seems to refute the idea of a personal god, to assume that agreement is impossible without some kind of hierarchy.

So, I conclude that while the necessity to god of organized religion is possible, the entire idea points to god as being less of a personal father-figure, and more of a godfather (of the gang-lord variety) who can't be bothered to communicate with each of us more than the minimum amount.  He has his capos do his dirty work in preaching, condemning, collecting cash to build his various mansions, and generally telling everyone what to do.  Is that the god anyone wants to believe in?

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