To believe or not to believe?
So, I joined the Scouts and am going on my first training session soon. But, there's a part of me that really doesn't want to any more. Scout meetings are fun, definitely, but there is something else which came up last week as part of the application process which has made me question what I'm doing. More than that, it's made me question my own beliefs.
One question I was asked was "what are your spiritual beliefs?" Now, this struck me as a bit odd. Why ask such a question? I left it blank and thought no more about it until a couple of weeks later when I had a conversation with another member of Scouts. It seems that if I'm honest about my beliefs (or lack thereof) then I'm likely to be told that I should reconsider my involvement with the Scouts. That shocked me. Both Scouts and Guides are now multi-faith organisations, admitting children from homes of all religions, but it seems that there is still discrimination going on.
Of the various suggestions from friends, several people just said "lie". I could have done that, but it would have been wrong and I would have felt very uncomfortable doing it. As a child I looked at what I had been taught to believe, analysed it, thought about it, and rejected it. This never seemed to be a problem before, I was a leader with the Guide Association for several years and was never once asked the question. I accept that spiritual development is one aspect of what these youth movements are hoping to achieve, but I don't think that this is a good reason for excluding a whole section of the population.
Yes, I'm a scientist so I'm bound to be logical and questioning. But I don't see why it should matter what I believe. I do not intend discussing my beliefs with the Scouts, so why should it be a problem? It doesn't make me a bad person, I still have morals. If, in the end, they decide they really don't want me as a leader then, fair enough, I'll accept that.
A quote from pharyngula which seems topical:
Nothing must be held sacred. Question everything. [...] You are all human beings who must make your way through your life by thinking and learning, and you have the job of advancing humanity's knowledge by winnowing out the errors of past generations and finding deeper understanding of reality. You will not find wisdom in rituals and sacraments and dogma, which build only self-satisfied ignorance, but you can find truth by looking at your world with fresh eyes and a questioning mind.
Very true. I enjoy reading pharyngula but I'm often surprised at the comments he receives. People can believe anything they like as far as I'm concerned, as long as they don't force it on anyone else. If only people could be a bit more open minded.