Shuck and Jive

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Fantasy-Based Religion Vs. Reality-Based Religion

I do not mean to insult or ridicule. I do mean to lampoon. I lampoon fantasy-based religion. The art of lampoon is to wake people up. When we lose our courage to lampoon, we will have handed over our freedom. Three points:

1) Fantasy-based religion is not Christianity as a whole.
2) Fantasy-based religion is not Islam (or any other religion) as a whole.
3) "Fantasy-based" is not limited to religion (but religion is my focus).

Fantasy exists within all religions. As I said in a previous post, fantasy-based religion is about itself. It is a belief about itself (by appeal to some sort of special revelation) that it is true and correct. In my last post I lampooned the Creation Museum. Check out Street Prophets for a review of this museum from various sources.

A couple of years ago, a Danish newspaper lampooned fantasy-based religion as expressed in Islam. Again, Islam is not fantasy-based. But it can become so, just like Christianity.

I like this cartoon. You can see more here.

Fantasy-based religion takes many forms. Remember the Heaven's Gate crowd in the 90's? They killed themselves in a belief that they would fly off to heaven trailing Halley's Comet. My daughter, a student at the University of Montana, took a couple of courses from sociology professor, Rob Balch, there. His work is on religious cults. He infiltrated Heaven's Gate as well as a number of others to study and understand them. These various cults are extreme examples of fantasy-based religion. All people interested in religion should read Eric Hoffer's, The True Believer.

The fantasy-based movement in Christianity, especially in the United States, is growing. It is not limited to any one denomination of Christianity. There are adherents in all denominations at various degrees of reality denial. Ultimately, fantasy-based religion is the denial of reality.

In contrast to fantasy-based religion, I am an adherent of reality-based religion. Reality-based religion does not deny what we know through the sciences and our intellect about the material universe. Reality-based religion does not limit itself to what we know, but it does not dismiss or deny what we know. Reality-based religion is open-ended. It welcomes discovery. It embraces scholarship. It seeks to discover what
is. At the same time, it seeks to re-discover our traditions, particularly our religious traditions. It does not assume, for instance, that our forebears were stupid or unenlightened. It seeks to understand them in their time, and through that, to acknowledge what was timeless about their message.

Like love, according to the Apostle Paul, reality-based religion never ends. Why? Because it is curious.

I have observed that fantasy-based religion has the following characteristics:

1) It is humorless. [It can't take a joke (ie. the reaction to the Danish cartoons)].
2) It is apocalyptic.
3) Its God is violent.

I am sure there are more. I am not talking about conservative vs. liberal. I am talking about fantasy vs. reality. Nor am I talking about the freedom to believe in whatever you want to believe. There is no law against being stupid. This is not about freedom of religion.

This is about our future. More on that to come.


  1. I just wanted to commend you on a job well done. I think what you do with this blog, and your church is refreshing and a step in the right direction. Reading your last post made me wonder if you were at all familiar with Richard Rorty. I wrote my undergraduate thesis on his book Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, which is an excellent read, and well worth looking at. I think you might find some of what he has to say encouraging, even from the secular world. Keep up the good work!

  2. Thank you! I really appreciate that. I have not read the Rorty book. Thanks for that. I will check it out!

  3. I am so grateful for your blog, John. Because of it, I've decided to not base my religion on fantasy or "reality" but on NON-REALITY just like you told me to...before you told be to base it on reality while I imagine a new future together in a fantastic utopia of human endeavor.

    Thank you for delivering me from circular reasoning and illogical inconsistencies!

  4. You are welcome. I try to be of service.

  5. Thanks again for your blog, John. I appreciate the frustration which has brought forth this weekend's posts, and believe me, as a scientist, I feel that as well.

    However, I just want to take a breath here a minute. One of my favorite shows is Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. (Like most of my favorite shows, it will almost certainly have a very short life.) One of the characters on the show is a largely a-religious and left-of-center man who is in love with a right-of-center Christian woman. (I'd have enjoyed a devout and left-of-center Christian character, but, well...)

    "Your side hates our side," he says, "because you think we think you're stupid."

    "Our side hates your side," he continues, "because we think you're stupid."

    I do not think this is the way to either understanding or peace, yet it seems to be the world of today. I'd love to know how to break out of this.

  6. Thanks Mr. Tim.

    I really appreciate that. I wish I knew how to break out of it, but I do not. The only thing that I think I know, is that we have to be honest with what we think we know and what we feel. We have to be open for others to do the same. My blog is my attempt to be honest. I contradict myself; I am illogical; sometimes I am less than gracious. It is in a sense, a public diary or journal. I, like it, am a work in progress. I do think that to get beyond the "stupid" which I am guilty of, is to keep the conversation going.