Celibacy / Open-Mindedness / Some Perils of Joining a Religion

This is an explanation of some of the perils of joining any particular (the main peril explained here being the loss of one’s ability to think objectively). I shall explain using the example of the celibacy requirement for Catholic priests (since I know someone who is considering becoming a priest, and am having a hard time using logical thinking to dissuade him)

I’ve realized that it may be almost hopeless to have a discussion with any strong Catholic on whether priests should be celibate without first looking at the “bigger picture”. Let me explain…

The reason I think it is almost hopeless is that if a Catholic agrees that the celibacy requirement is wrong, they are actually agreeing for FAR more than just that. If the Catholic Church (CC) is wrong about just this one thing, then that would mean that the CC is not the infallible, God-controlled entity that they had always assumed it was; it would mean not just that the celibacy requirement is wrong, but that their entire religion is actually not “the one”. What a huge admission, especially if their whole life and identity are built up around being Catholic.

In other words, by conceding that the CC is (or may be) wrong about the celibacy issue, they would be opening up ALL the teachings of CC for questioning (real questioning; not just self-deceptive rationalization). Basically, if a Catholic is actually open to the possibility that the celibacy requirement might be wrong, they are saying “I’m not sure about the rightness of Catholicism anymore.” Therefore they have to keep their truly-objectively-thinking minds completely shut down.

I think that unfortunately when someone joins a particular religion, they usually close their eyes to everything else and shut down their ability to think objectively. They don’t think they’ve lost their ability to think objectively; they think they’re still doing it; but really they’re just going through whatever thought processes it takes to convince themselves that everything else about their chosen religion is right. They’ll start rationalizing the most ludicrous things into validity. I’ve seen this type of irrational rationalizing from people of all different religions.

Some religions do have far more ludicrosity than Catholicism in my opinion, although I think Catholicism has its share also (examples are outside the scope of this post).

I think that when considering religious issues, religious people usually do not start from the perspective of “Here is an idea. Let’s see if we can figure out if it is true / sensible.” Instead, they start from the perspective of “Here is an idea. Our religion says it is true, and therefore it is true. Let’s see if we can figure out how we can come to understand / explain that this is true.”

Well, that about summarizes it. I hope you get the idea.

Disclaimer #1: I don’t actually think that Catholicism is bad overall. In fact, I think that if more people were strongly Catholic the world would probably be a much better place, because I think most of what the CC teaches is good stuff, and not harmful. But when it comes to the teachings that I think ARE harmful, I think that speaking up is important.

Disclaimer #2: I think that my own mind is also probably very closed in many ways for various reasons, and I’m sure I am far from perfect when it comes to objective thinking myself, although like everyone I like to think that I succeed once in a while.

I welcome any comments below…

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