David Handeye wrote:Your discussion is a perfect example of the original poster's doubts. When disagreements are reported inside one belief, majority of believers state the ortodoxy, out of it you are heretic.
But, I think, if you state religion, whatever could be, is based upon a relationship between the believer and the believed, whatever could be, nobody could charge whoever with heresy.
It may be helpful to think of heresy differently than that commonly associated with burning people at the stake. If we run down the list in Merriam-Webster, we come across "an opinion, doctrine, or practice contrary to the truth or to generally accepted beliefs or standards." This, I think, is where we start. In Religion X, a 'correct' understanding of the nature of transcendent reality is arrived at (we can debate whether it's actually correct, but for the sake of argument, let's assume it is). Similar to the way in which our supposedly 'correct' legal understanding that one cannot deprive another of property without fair compensation leads to the denunciation of those who would steal said property, religious beliefs and actions that run contrary to the what has been determined to be orthodox ("accepted as true or correct by most people") are considered to be "contrary to the truth"--heretical. Granted, the determination may be flawed (perhaps it's Y that's true and X that's false), but it does not change the fact that those who hold X to be true (the Earth is X billion years old and humans are the result of a process of evolution) will brook little dissent from those who hold to Y (that the Earth is 6,000 years old and humans are the result of god smashing some dust together). That is to say, one can (at least linguistically) hold to heretical scientific belief. Or heretical social belief. etc, etc, etc.
So why is it that religion is somehow wrong to say to Believer X, "You are a heretic for holding to the belief that Jesus was not God Incarnate; a belief that stands in direct contradiction of the truth that Jesus is
God Incarnate?" There are often robust rationales for the latter if one accepts an initial set of premises, so these aren't beliefs arrived at willy-nilly. And, of course, if one is so deadset on X being untrue (say, Jesus' divinity), why not convert to a system where such a belief is orthodox (say, Islam)?
All of that to say, heresy in and of itself is no big problem. If you choose to believe or practice other that what your particular religion holds to be true, it is wholly fair (though perhaps not nice) for you to be branded a heretic and told there is no place for you. Now, if you're abused, injured, killed... that's entirely inexcusable, and it speaks volumes to the "truth" claimed by those who would do such a thing (I have little doubt as to whether the Grand Inquisitors were operating out of proper Xian belief. They weren't). That said, setting aside such criminal activities, religionists are no more bound to accept all comers than are scientists. Once a particular set of beliefs and practices have been determined to be true, the heretic is making something of a childish argument to insist that his/her beliefs must also be taken to be true. Humans are quite right not to hold contradictories in tension as somehow both being true. The act of declaring one to be false (hopefully on the grounds of some coherent system) is entirely reasonable.
There are rules to the game, and those who don't play by them are asked to leave.