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Thought provoking questions that
we have received, with our responses

Part 10:

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This topic continues from the previous essay

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Interesting Emails discussed in this essay:

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The use of BCE and CE is inappropriate:

Incoming Email: "Your use of CE and BCE is simply a spineless and repulsive response to political correctness. You should be ashamed of yourselves."

Our response: This is not exactly a question, but we include it here because it is one of the most types of common complaint E-mails that we receive.

A number of theologians, mostly Christian, selected "common era" (CE) to replace "AD" ("anno domine," or "year of the Lord") when defining dates. 2014 CE and 2014 AD mean exactly the same thing. Similarly, they selected "before the common era" or "BCE" to replace "BC" ("Before Christ"). The terminology has since been accepted by many historians, and is becoming popular elsewhere, as in this web site and that of

We reject the belief that the use of BCE and CE is an indication that we are spineless. If this person saw how many hate Emails that we receive about this topic, -- and the occasional death threat -- they would realize that the simplest, gutless response would be for us to use BC and AD.

Repulsiveness is in the eye of the beholder. However, to Muslims, the idea that Yeshua of Nazareth (Jesus Christ) is God is truly abhorrent. They view Jesus as one of the major prophets. To a Jew, Jesus is at most a wise teacher, and certainly not a deity. Both view God as a single, indivisible deity. To them, the concepts of the Trinity and the deity of Jesus are blasphemy. And yet, they see the term "Year of the Lord" in wide use.

We replaced AD and BC in order to minimize the pain that such terms cause to others. There are five staff members in this multi-faith group. Our theologies are diverse: Agnosticism, Atheism, Christianity, Wiccan, Zen Buddhism. But we all follow an Ethic of Reciprocity -- called the Golden Rule in Christianity. That is, we try to do onto others as we want them to do onto us.

If being sensitive to others is "political correctness" then so be it. We are not ashamed of acting decently and with sensitivity towards others.

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What happens during an abortion?

Incoming Email: "...exactly what is done during an abortion? My friend is having one and she doesn't know what happens..."

Our response: That depends. Early in pregnancy, some clinics use medication to induce an abortion. RU-486 is one. The woman takes some, pills and the embryo is expelled as for a miscarriage. An early surgical abortion involves scraping or suctioning the embryo from the wall of the uterus. Later abortions involve a more complex surgical operation. Our menu on abortion has links to essays which describe the various methods that are used. Nobody should obtain an abortion without first knowing exactly what is going to happen. That could be a terrifying experience.

Some women who have abortions are are not fully informed or have not thought the matter through thoroughly. After the abortion, most feel great relief. However, some later become convinced that the embryo or fetus that they had removed was really a human person. They often feel great remorse and can experience serious depression. A few even commit suicide. It is thus very important that your friend be properly counseled and consider her options carefully.

A pregnant woman has three basic options: an abortion, to give birth and raise the child, and to give birth and release the child for adoption. She needs to weigh all options and select the least worse. It is also important that, if she decides to be sexually active in the future, that she obtain counseling about an effective contraceptive method. Implants and intrauterine device (IUD) are increasingly popular.

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People of different religions cannot live peacefully together, because their beliefs conflict:

Incoming Email: If you truly comprehend different religions' belief systems, then you will realize that they are diametrically opposed to each other in most ways. Thus, Muslims will never be able to peacefully with Jews; Christians and Buddhists cannot coexist without conflict.

Our response: Different religions often do teach mutually exclusive belief systems. Among the religions of the world, there are probably at least a dozen different, major beliefs about the nature of God. In order to understand religious conflict, we recommend that you read our essays on the origins of religion and of religious conflict. Then consider the following:

bullet Imagine dividing all the tens of thousands of major religions, minor religions and minor variations of religions in the world into two groups: Group 1 includes only your own religion: group 2 comprises all the other tens of thousands of faith groups worldwide.

bullet A study of Group 2 will show that they have wildly different belief systems about deity, humanity and the rest of the universe. They also have very different religious rituals, and beliefs concerning the afterlife, morality, family life, etc.

bullet One is forced to the conclusion that few or none of these faith groups base their belief on a direct revelation from God. If they did, then there would be much greater degree of similarity among their beliefs.

bullet One positive factor is that almost all of them they share an Ethic of Reciprocity -- the belief that one must treat others in a decent manner. In Christianity, this is called the Golden Rule.

bullet One of the main failure of religious groups in the world is sometime called the "demon of the absolute." They teach certain beliefs as absolute truths, even though it is obvious to the casual observer that their beliefs conflict with those of other religions, and thus most of the teachings by religions of the world must be wrong. A second failure is that when they teach the Ethic of Reciprocity, their followers often apply it imperfectly; they tend to apply it to their fellow believers but not to people of other faiths. Our essay on the source of religious conflicts has a crude graphic which indicates the imbalance in religious teachings that is often seen in the religions of the world.

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In answer to your question, yes; people of other religions can coexist in harmony even while holding mutually exclusive beliefs. The United States is a good example; it is generally regarded as the most religiously diverse nation in the world. The area where our office is located, Southern Ontario, is generally regarded as the most religiously diverse region of any nation in the world. Another indication of the ability of people to coexist is seen in the many inter-faith organizations throughout the world that bring together people of various religions in an effort to improve religious harmony.

Peace among religions could be promoted if their leaders would:

bullet Emphasize that their Ethic of Reciprocity applies to all people, not just to fellow believers.

bullet Back off on their belief that their teachings alone are infallible and their holy book is inerrant. This second behavior would be very difficult for conservative wings of various religions, but much easier for the liberal wings.
bullet Promote a separation of religion and state throughout the world, similar to that seen in the U.S.' separation of church and state.

But above all, the religions of the world need to realize that they are both the main cause of inter-faith violence, mass murder and genocide, as well as the most promising path to eliminate that violence.

In view of the failure of religions to even fully recognize their responsibility in generating conflict, it is up to the individual to try to change the world a bit at a time. We recommend that people make a commitment to themselves to:

bullet Treat persons of other faiths with respect, and

bullet Work towards giving persons of all religions full rights without oppression or discrimination,

even as they probably continue to believe that other religions are teaching falsehoods.

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This topic continues in the next essay

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Copyright © 2003 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2003-APR-11
Latest update and review: 2014-OCT-03
Author: B.A. Robinson

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