The Skeptic's Guide to The Universe

Friday, November 5, 2010

Chapter Eight; SPORTS AND RELIGION part thirty-one

This section is not the review of how so many sports heroes choose to solicit God's favor on their athletic endeavors but how who or what sports you choose to support has much to do with the same processes that one will select their religion. There has been many books and articles about that phenomenon. What I am referring to is the phenomenon of how who and what sport and/or team a person likes is very similarly wired as that in which we pick and support our favorite athletics events.
No one would argue with a person from Tyngsboro, Massachusetts that they are fans of the Patriots, Celtics, Bruins or Red Sox. However, if you were seen around town wearing a Yankees' jersey you might have a mild to serious confrontation. This is plainly understood as being from Massachusetts and the New England area that your going to support the team that represents your area locally.
But how reasonable is something like this to believe in? If one was to look at the rosters of most of the players of the teams you would find that most of them are not from your local area or attended college in that region. So really the support from the team is not so much the players themselves but from the employer that is able to hire them to work for your local team.
Because of this, it is easy to see that adherence to a sports team is largely due to where a person is born or raised or has some other intrinsic or intangible connection to the team. These connections can be anything from meeting a person when they were in high school or college or knowing someone in their family or being from the same state or town as the athlete. The possible reasons for liking a team or player is about is endless as there are fans of sports.
Sports fans are indeed fanatical and have strong views and opinions of what they think about their team and the teams that play them. We have seen on television and in person fans dressed to expressed their devotion to the team. Though these fans are fanatical, it would not be reasonable for a fan to say their team won even if the team had been clearly beaten. To this, alas, there are exceptions. But for the most part the fanatical adherence to the team is in spite of “win or lose” not because of it. Just ask any Cubs fan.
So when opposing sports fans come together the idea is not to change the mind of the fan to cheer or support your team but to have that fan's team defeated on the field of competition. If the end of the season each teams fans had converted to the winning teams by the end of most seasons logically there would be only one fan base and the other teams would be without support.
This is very similar to how religion works. For the most part we are “fans” of the religion that is dominate in our region. In The South it may be The Southern Baptist church. In the north it may be Catholic Church, out in Idaho and Utah it might me Mormon. In some states being Lutheran or Methodist may be the most popular selection for most people to be “fans” of the local religion. But unlike sports there are usually no team colors of church heroes like in sports. You do not have 24/7 coverage on TV for particular denominations and churches. Actually there are many of these channels but they are no where as popular as the regular cable sports channels.
But unlike in sports, these religious “teams” do not compete head to head in debate and discussion. In such a competition it would be reasonable to expect people to convert from one faith to another. Unlike with my sports team scenario. This may be why there is a truce in public about discussing levels and ideas of faith and belief of our favorite religious “team”. I can only imagine the Methodists going up against the Mormons in Sunday afternoon competition for souls saved. Winner gets the championship.
Since for the most part people attach an even deeper adherence to issues of faith, it is makes sense that is a person is willing to get into a fight for their sports teams, they would be even more willing to attack a person that is attacking their religious belief.
But when their adherence to a religion is viewed as simple geography or other illogical factors it should be a small step to see that if one was born in another part of the world or a different time the deeply held faith that they feel is so important to their lives becomes nothing than rooting for the “home team”.
I guarantee that if children from India, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Germany or Zaire were adopted and raised in the United States that the children would be some sort of Christian adherents by the time they are adults.
So what we really have with the view of the World's religions is the same thing as cheering for your countries soccer team in the World Cup.
  • I like Brazil soccer because I am from Brazil.”
  • I like the St. Louis Cardinals because I am from St. Louis.”
  • I am Islamic because I am from Saudi Arabia.”
  • I am Mormon because I am from Idaho.”
  • I am Baptist because my friends are.”
  • I am Jewish because my family is.”
  • I am Pentecostal and I like Joel Osteen and Marlyn Hickey.”
  • I am Hindu because my family is from India.”
  • I am a Christian because I have had a Revelation from Jesus.
Each and everyone of these is a simplification of the adherent but there is just a slight departure from what a person believes to how a person acts. Never would a Christian adherent that lives and works in The United States and has a comfortable life, relatively speaking, would think for a moment that they would ever have a different faith if they would born in a different country or to a different belief of their parents. A person believes their view of God would follow them no matter where on Earth they lived. But the truth is that your view on God is based upon your family and your culture mainly.
Does a boy start attending church because he likes what the pastor says or is his real motivation to meet that new pretty girl that just moved to town? Is the woman attending church because she likes the message or because this is a good place to find a potential mate for her and a step-father for her three year old son?
I was recently told by a old friend of mine that I should find a nice Bible preaching church and find a good godly woman there so I would have a nice social place to call a home. It was said as a statement for my good will and to have something more to my life but it also was saying that going to church is a good place to pick up women.
Oddly, Church is one of the few places where asking a woman out is not seen as out of place but an almost religious action because doing it in the presence of fellow adherents means “God is in the relationship”. One soon has an entire support system set up and will be socializing with other couples either married or dating as well. This is one of the reason why one would go to a certain church and support the “home team” to find a mate.
So is being an adherent really anything more than timing and location?
I am a veteran and served in both the Air Force and the Army. When you join the military you are processed as you enter in. Much as how you are checked out in a grocery store. First come, first serve. SO you go through the processing and travel to where you have your basic training at.
One there depending on when the rest of the people in for your training class arrive you get assigned a transition location and then, finally a training class. Now in the Air Force my Training flight was “Flight 465”. This of course had no meaning to me whatsoever. “Flight” is a subunit of how the units are divided In the Air Force. They taught a mnemonic device to remember what these divisions are: How many new airmen will get sore feet? Which relates to Headquarters USAF, Major Commands, Numbered Air Forces, Air Divisions, Wings, Groups, Squadrons, and Flights. So I knew that a flight was pretty far down on the Air Force structure.
During my time in Basic Training we had various competitions with other flights in the barracks. Things from class test scores to inspections and physical fitness scores. We had a name for our particular flight which I have long since forgot but we painted a symbol of our flight in the flight day room.
The point of this is I very well could have been put in Flight 466 or Flight 464 and so on. But we worked hard because we felt that “Flight 465” itself was the best and we were lucky to be a part of it. Not that we were the total component of the flight and it was what we made it.
These are the sorts of random events that religious adherents usually do not even consider when it comes to the religious faith they hold or why they hold it. The most common answer when I ask a religious adherent why they believe this or that boils down to, “My faith” tells me what I believe is right. If you ask them if they think that they would be a “fill in Christian denomination here” if they lived in India or Indonesia? Inevitably they say, "Of course." So the next question I would ask is, "Why do you think that?" They will usually tell me, "Because God has shown me his truth."
I would like to see this put to the test. After all, someone that is willing to die for their faith is willing to die for nothing. There is a long history in every religion of martyrs. In the Christian religion one of the more famous books is Foxe's Book of Martyrs. I would like to rename that book: Foxe's Book of Suicidal Dogma Adherents. Each and everyone of the persons killed and the ones doing the killing in that book killed for nothing at all. Just an idea of their “team” being the best team and if you disagreed, you will die. Now that is what you call the faithful fans.

Coming Next Time:

THE BEST TEAM IN THE WORLD part thirty-two

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