Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Coveting thy neighbor's credibility

Inspired by the coining of the term "Fatwa Envy" (below) by PZ Myers during the Wafergate affair, I have concocted a few labels in a similar vein in order to have a fast and easy summary of some of the more common thoughts that plague a religious believer's mind, and drive their perspectives of reality. Please, do not take any of them too seriously....

Koran Envy (Also, Jihad/Fatwah Envy or Theocracy Envy): A term that I originally picked up on PZ Myers' blog, Pharyngula [i.e. this one is not of my invention]. The desire to have enough authority to violently harrass or even bring about legal reprecussions for anyone who disputes the veracity of their religion, mocks it, or damages any functionally worthless artifacts relevant to the faith. Often reveals itself through a longing for blasphemy laws to prevent their religion from being questioned, or simply through pining for vigilante or mob justice against similar actions. Strangely, it can occur in people who have Martyr Envy as well.

Idealistic Masochism (Related to Persecution and Martyr Complexes): A desire to die, suffer, or be treated unfairly due to one's religious faith. A peculiarly common occurrence in Christianity, due to its fixation on the martyrdom of Jesus and the original Christians who were tormented and killed for their beliefs, with many Christians imagining themselves in a similar situation, either due to a tacit wish to feel more important due to being afflicted with similar trials, or due to a wish to perceive conditions that fulfill prophecies pertaining to such treatment. They perceive themselves as suffering in order to lend credibility (in their own mind) to their beliefs. Sometimes indistinguishable from standard masochism.

History Book Envy/Science Envy/Logic/Fact Envy: Describes the general belief (or the desire to declare) that one's religion is accurrate due to having some exclusive rights to a claim of intellectual authority or consistency. The most common form in Christians is the claim that the Bible's historical accuracy lends credence to the entirety of its doctrine. It is also common for both Muslims and Christians to claim that their particular holy texts offer insight into scientific observations that were not formally made until much later in time, and that this makes their metaphysical claims true. A mildly unrelated form is to claim a monopoly on the process of reason entirely (mostly due to the works of people of their faith in the realm of philosophy and science, or due to a presuppositionalist argument pertaining to their deity/ies, pertinent to Order Envy). In general, whether or not the claim of historical, scientific, or logical superiority relative to other religions happens to be true, it still does not indicate that the metaphysical claims are true by mere circumstance of being stated amidst otherwise factual statements. The person who tries to make it seem otherwise is most likely unsatisfied with blind faith and wants to add a veneer of legitimacy to an otherwise unjustified and unjustifiable belief.

Spontaneous Deism(Also, Pantheism Envy, Nomadic NOMA, or Selective Nonspecificity): Desire to affiliate with a particular religious viewpoint, to accept most or all of its doctrine, but to selectively discard (or temporarily ignore) properties of that deity that make it too anthropomorphic, or that would make the existence of such an entity inconsistent with our everyday experiences. It is a very precisely directed will to make the deity of choice a non-interventionist and to make it less strict and specific in aspects that you either disagree with or that contradict other aspects. Spontaneous Deism, according to its name, is only brought about in circumstances where beliefs and doctrine are brought under scrutiny, and the extent to which the deity's properties are discarded is limited when outside of an argument about said deity.

Just worldview fallacy (Also, Christian nationeers, Monopoly on law, or Hell-blindness): (supplemented by its namesake, "just world fallacy") A wish to claim that your deity or your religion has had a significant positive influence over civilized law in its current form, over positive human emotions, over certain moral behaviors or concepts, or just a wish to claim that the cosmology put forth by your religion is good, fair, and reflects positively on the deity that is declared to be responsible for it. It is only called the "just worldview fallacy" when these claims are not true, or are exaggerated. Most blatant when claiming responsibility for laws that predated your religion, for moral concepts that either predated the religion or are contradicted by it, and for cosmologies that are clearly unfair and cruel.

Desperate definition-seeking: (Also Order Envy, Proof through subjective meaning, or Urge for Creation Monopoly): The perception that your particular religion is the only one with a possibly valid explanation for existence, for a natural order, or for why humans exist. Interestingly, this one does not often result from a desire to be better than other religions and their explanations, but rather from a complete ignorance of other explanations. Rather than defining itself in contrast to other religious explanations, it contrasts itself to non-religious explanations. Often, it is also ignorant of those as well. Order Envy always exists as long as they believe that they have an explanation for origins.

Hedonist Envy (Also Hypocrite's restraint): A desire to indulge in behavior of a violent, sexual, or just plain antisocial manner, and using religious doctrine as a method of restraining yourself. Often manifests as a rabid condemnation of people who do indulge in the desired activities, while simultaneously people who do not follow your religious doctrine, under presumptions that they are unrestrained and have similar urges. When normal instead of abnormal behavior is restricted by religious doctrine, abnormal behavior that is or is not explicitly forbidden as well may manifest, and feeds into the level of condemnation and generalized hatred of other people.

Holocaust Envy (A special form of Idealistic Masochism; also called Pogrom Envy, Slavery Envy, Racism Envy, etc. based on incidence): A wish that you were a member of a group that had a history of being discriminated against, persecuted, and killed, solely on merits of being in that group. This comes with the qualifier (which usually appears as the explicit manifestation of the underlying urge) that you are granted a level of respect and tolerance on merits of that history beyond that of normal groups. Often manifests when trying to ask why such groups do not suffer from harsh criticisms that are applied to your own.

Exclusive Wisdom (Also Enlightment Envy or Zenvy): Belief that your religion offers special knowledge and insight into the world that others cannot offer. Often extends into a wish to claim moral, or "spiritual" superiority on merits of such insights or merely being a member of that religion. Often only relevant if one can only attain this wisdom by merits of being a member of the religion, and not through a specific process that is independent of acceptance of other doctrine.

That'll do for now...

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