Consensus about god. Really?
While the god delusion is certainly declining in the United States there is still a large percentage of people who tell pollsters that they believe in a God.
But one interesting thing about such surveys is that they generally go out of the way to avoid defining the term “god”. One result is a wide assumption that most people mean the same thing. The fundamentalist who worships Jesus will tend to assume that most other believers who attest to a god are also talking about the same deity.
Many people actually hold to a pantheistic view of god -- that god is everything that is. Others see a god as a prime mover, a force that got the universe running and then retired -- a basically deistic view as many of America’s founding fathers believed.
Even among those who claim to worship the same being there is widespread antagonism toward one another as worshipping the wrong god. A born again Christian is more likely to think that a Catholic is a heathen worshipping false idols than not. And both the fundie and the Catholic will be likely to look askance as the Mormons. Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t like anybody but themselves and even then they aren’t so sure.
The Jews have Jehovah but no Jesus. Jesus-only Pentecostals have Jesus but no Jehovah. Unitarians have no trinity of gods. Most Christians don’t cling to Allah at all. Then we have Buddhists, Hindus, and hundreds of other sects.
If you were to define them precisely you’d find that the word “god” covers hundreds of different definitions. When the same word can mean hundreds of things then it is easy to get consensus. But the consensus is not real.
Once this phony consensus is assumed we then see the believers, mainly politicized Christians, claiming that consensus now justifies state involvement in some issue that they want regulated. The phony consensus is now used as the excuse to use government force against others.
The logic goes along the lines that their God wants a certain policy: stop gays from marrying, ban abortion, ban genetic engineering, etc. Next they point to the consensus in a god and argue that since most Americans believing “in God” that means that the “godly policies” they are pushing should be implemented immediately. Not only do they want it, but God wants it and so do the American people. In the end they are only speaking for themselves. The rest is a diversion.
One of the convenient things about having an imaginary friend in the sky who controls everything is that he whispers into your ears what you want to hear. You then promote the policies you wanted all along but claim to be representing this imaginary friend. That is pretty sad actually. When they pretend that everyone else’s pretend friend is actually their pretend friend as well, and then conclude that means that all the other deluded people want the same policies, we are getting into pure crazy.
“God’s will” has justified an unfathomable amount of lunacy. And far too often that lunacy has taken a vicious form where the intention of the believer is to literally harm others. Sometimes the harm is merely in denying others the same rights they have. Sometimes it is in using the force o law to penalize people for not believing what they believe. Other times it is to hurt people as punishment for their disbelief. The imaginary friend may be an illusion, perhaps a delusion, but that doesn’t mean the idea doesn’t end up harming lots of innocent people.
I have no problem when a person’s religious delusions cause them to harm themselves -- such as believers in faith healing refusing medical care. They are free to indulge their beliefs and suffer the consequences. But when they wish to impose harm on others because of their imaginary sky-buddy then it is a different matter altogether.