Monday, February 22, 2016

Religious Semantics

Words are ultimately invented, with definitions that were chosen arbitrarily. They are meaningful today, because most of us have a common understanding of the context of each set of letters. They are meaningful because those definitions are relevant to most of us in that they correspond to something in our consensus reality or experience.

Not, I find, when talking to religious apologists. They use theological jargon under the guise of common vernacular. Morality is defined, in part, as "that which can only exist with God." I've seen reason defined as "that which can only be accessed through God." I've often thought of making a master list of words apologists frame in terms of their deity, but it would always be incomplete.

Words are invented, with definitions that were chosen arbitrarily. The apologists break no cosmic rule by creating their own language, but when they try to communicate in secular society with these identically constructed variants, they hold value. Their definitions are not relevant to me. They do not correspond to anything in reality as I observe it. They match nothing that I've ever experienced.

When I use "morality" or "reason" I am not grounding them in anything I don't believe exists. The assumption that I do is irrational. The sooner apologists understand this and accept this, the sooner we can have a mutually beneficial dialogue.

1 comment:

  1. It's really fascinating to see how religious people tend to approach language. They tend to live in a non-semiotic world where the relationship between a sign and its referent is enshrined in the universe itself. Likewise, they often take dictionaries to be authoritative in a way that dictionary makers don't see the product of their work. Damned difficult to shake folks of these assumptions.