Examination of the “sacred” is always ethical

As I was wondering through the halls on campus I happed to notice a poster on the bulletin board that said “Is examination of the sacred ever ethical?” It was referencing the HBO series “Big Love” which is about a fictional Utah polygamist family that happened to air an episode depicting activities that occur in LDS temples. I found the topic very interesting but couldn’t help wonder if we shouldn’t be asking a different question: “Why should any belief be beyond examination?”

It seems that the implied argument in favor of not examining the “sacred” is that some people feel strongly about it, and feelings will be hurt. But there are more important issues than how people feel about the truth, one being what the truth actually is. No one deserves to privilege an opinion that they then claim is so important that it is immoral to examine it.

Furthermore, what’s the point of having a view if it is not based on examination in the first place? If your beliefs are divorced from inquiry then we have a serious problem, namely that beliefs which are not based on reason and evidence can often be plausibly called prejudice and dogma.

Not only is the examination of the sacred (whether God, government, or culture) perfectly ethical, it is also vital. From the flag, to the cross, there is nothing that has more blood than the graven image and sacred icon. Sometimes it takes the form of faith (“Don’t question your religion!”) or patriotism (“Don’t question your country!”); In any case the individual is subjugated and authority established.

We look back at the thousands of religions and governments of the ancient world and scoff, but are our own so different? Every country and religion that people happen to be born into is “the best country” or “the right religion.” Does this really have anything to do with truth determined by reason and evidence? Or merely absolutes that are held as “sacred” that are held despite reason and evidence.

I am not suggesting that anything held to be sacred will cause death and destruction. But is your personal freedom subjugated because of irrational absolutes? I think so. Nothing should be above examination.

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