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Discussion 3 to A Miscellany 20
No easy answer

by Maarten van den Driest

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Lynda,

How nice of you to respond. I welcome the discussion. Within my own church, that sees tolerance as one its prime pillars, I try to broach this subject sometimes. Most people will, if you ask them, respond as you did. When pressed, they will usually amend their position a bit, just as you did toward the end of your post.

If you believe that I have to sacrifice toddlers to make sure the sun comes up again the following morning, I might respect you personally but I will certainly not be tolerant of your faith.

I don't presume to have an easy answer as to where the boundary runs but there mere point I try to get across (continuously, for the last couple of years) is that such a limit exists. Not all thoughts, not all beliefs are acceptable.

I further believe we should speak up against unacceptable beliefs. My moral sense says we cannot just let everything run its natural course. We might believe we have the right to kill everyone outside of our own fold because they are unbelievers and therefore worthless and will go to hell anyway. We might believe the Earth is flat. We might believe agnostics try to overthrow the Christian society the US originally was, never mind the statistics.

My first limit would be that all our beliefs have to side with reality. We cannot believe green is red, even if it makes us happy or gives us a reason to live.

My other limits are usually internal Christian affairs and not really suitable for discussion here. One example: A man lies in hospital after he was only superficially wounded in a bad highway accident. He says to the grateful family: Now I know someone up there was looking out for me.

What a wonderful example of belief! However, in the next room lies the other victim of the same accident, dead. Is the grieving family to assume no one was looking out?

It is sometimes very easy to give a profoundly devout answer to life's hard questions but much harder to live with those answers. I prefer a certain consistency in my faith-based explanations.

I hope this makes it a bit more clear for you.