Bill O’reilly said last night during one of his ridiculous “War on Christmas” segments that Christianity is not a religion, but a philosophy.
So, when Christians claim that a talking snake seduced the world’s first women into eating forbidden fruit containing the knowledge of good and evil so that she and her husband would be cast out of a magical paradise by an all-powerful wizard who created the universe in seven days—that’s not a religious belief. That’s a philosophical belief.
Here’s the problem: philosophies aren’t really allowed to posit specific supernatural events that corroborate with nothing outside of the philosophies themselves. If philosophies could do that, then they wouldn’t be philosophies. They would be … uh, what’s the word? Religions! That’s the word!
The word “stupid” would have also been acceptable.
Of course Christianity is a religion. Only religion demands that you accept premises that roundly contradict everything you’ve ever observed about the nature of reality. We are no longer a race of dimwits lost in the desert, searching for answers. We’ve actually found some answers.
We don’t know everything. Much remains a mystery. But we know that complex organisms evolved gradually from simpler ones over the course of billions of years—they weren’t all put here on Earth at the same time in one spontaneous act of divine creation. We know that earthquakes are caused by the earth’s tectonic plates, not God’s wrath. We know that rain is caused by evaporation and condensation, not God opening the firmament between the heavens and the earth. In fact, we know that there is no such firmament.
Philosophies, even the wild ones, are grounded in observable reality. What in observable reality would require humans to attend church regularly? Why would Christianity require the worship of a long dead hippie carpenter and his stern patriarchal father? Why would it demand that we slay witches, gays and sabbath-breakers? Why would it tell us that modern biology is simply mistaken about evolution? Why would it tell us that the entire world was once flooded, but that every species of animal was spared because a drunk built a boat big enough to fit them all? And how did plants survive this flood? Did Noah’s ark also come equipped with a greenhouse full of every species of plant life?
Religion is a set of beliefs about the world that must be taken on faith. Once you’ve accepted the propositions of a religion, you can then form a philosophy based on them. But said philosophy doesn’t make sense even to it’s followers unless they’ve already accepted the religion that forms the basis of it. In other words, the philosophy of Christianity doesn’t make sense removed from the religion of Christianity.
Christianity has spent it’s dominion of the earth giving religion a bad name, so now Christians are running away from the word religion. Bill O’reilly is not alone (don’t forget about the ultra-popular YouTube video, “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus || Spoken Word”) Christianity attempting to rebrand itself as strictly a philosophy would be akin to the mafia saying that they don’t want to be called organized crime but would instead prefer to be called community organizers.
In the immortal words of George Carlin, “It’s all bullshit, folks. And it’s bad for ya.”