Today I thought I would discuss my thoughts about religion. This is in no way shape or form to say my views are right. I am not here to say any one person’s views are wrong, nor am I here to put down another person’s beliefs. However, I would like to cultivate a discussion, or at the very least, a different perspective. The following is based on my own experiences, so take what you want from it.
From a conflict analysis perspective, religion has been at the root of all the World Wars, conquests, and international conflicts. While religion talks about peace and harmony, it is without a doubt extremely violent. There is extremism in many forms, but religion tends to bring violence out the most. It is a strange phenomenon in my opinion because there are no concrete facts to back up the events of religion other than the various versions of the Bible or other religious books. Unlike evolution, where there is scientific facts that are undisputable, religion bases its beliefs on books, written by several men, and is it their interpretation of what God told them. I am sure there are many of you who are exploding or even yelling at my post, but before I am sentenced to a life of damnation in hell, let us explore religion from a different perspective.
What is extremism? Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines extremism as belief in and support for ideas that are very far from what most people consider correct or reasonable. Extremism occurs in every facet of life, not just religion. Richard Dawkins, a preeminent scientist — and the world’s most prominent atheist — asserts the irrationality of belief in God and the grievous harm religion has inflicted on society, from the Crusades to 9/11. Dawkins examines God in all his form, he is the Author of, The God Delusion, and he says, “The take-home message is that we should blame religion itself, not religious extremism – as though that were some kind of terrible perversion of real, decent religion. Voltaire got it right long ago: ‘Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.’ So did Bertrand Russell: ‘Many people would sooner die than think. In fact they do.” What is the truth? No one really knows, but what can be for sure is the fact people will go to extremes to protect their religious beliefs. It is the one thing they hold dearest, and they become victims to the insanity of religious extremism.
Christianity is not that old of a religion. It is about 2000 years old, and Hinduism is the oldest at roughly 4000 years old. Just to be clear, Islam is not that old as it is roughly 600 years old being one of the youngest. The earth however is very old at roughly at 4.5 Billion years. Many people, including myself, (believe it or not), believe in Jesus Christ. However, I am a social scientist, and I like to ask questions. Since the Bible talks about Jesus, and history says Jesus existed, I guess we can all assume on some level he walked the earth. The problem with some of the facts lies in the belief these things may not have even happened. It is based on blind faith, and it is based on the fact that we want to believe a human being possessed these so called God like powers. Could it be possible Jesus was born from a virgin mother? It is highly unlikely and impossible. I guess being a scientist I will have to admit anything is possible, but from a scientific perspective you have to have a sperm fertilize the egg in order to form a zygote.
Where does God fit in?
God however is a different story. I know some will say God is the beginning and the end, the alpha and omega, but I will question this. If God speaks to men, then God was created by something or someone. While religious books say God has no form, it is the omnipresent inside of each person, and God is around us all the time, is pushes me to ask the question where did God come from? He/ she/ or it didn’t just appear. Some higher being or higher source made it. Space is infinite as far as we know, but we are learning there is a real possibility other life forms exist. We have scientifically confirmed the earth is as old as it is, so why is man and religion as young as they are? It doesn’t make sense if you look at the entire picture. Something doesn’t come from nothing. There was something that created everything. Some of you will say to me that it is not my place to question if God is real, but it is my place to blindly believe. I will say you are a hypocrite and you are probably one the reasons religion is as violent as it is…..i.e. extremism.
The following link is a chart that explores the 37 religions practiced by most people. It is interesting to note how many religions follow one another. The Koran, Bible, and other religious books all parallel one another to some degree. It is left up to each individual to interpret what they are reading. At the end of the day, it is not about how right or wrong I am or these books are in their so called religious walk of life, it is about having faith. The problem occurs when people can no longer sit down and have an open discussion without feeling like they are being attacked. I know some of you reading this have deep religious beliefs, and I am sure some of you have had God speak to you at some point. I will say if you believe in something long enough or hard enough anything is possible. The mind is a very powerful tool, and if you believe you saw a higher being, in your mind you did. I have been very close to death on a few occasions, and I can assure you no two experiences are the same.
Does religion cause violence? Yes it does. I felt like this post was important in order to see how many of you were caught of guard by my questioning of your beliefs, your spiritual course, or your God. This is why conflict exists, because people cannot talk about the sensitive topics with out taking it personally. If you feel attacked, then you will attack back. My point is this…… be open minded enough as a scholar, researcher, or religious person to simply say I don’t know what lies on the other side after death. Who knows if God really exists? Or, if anything is even in the after life. When people say I am doomed to an after life in hell, I have to laugh because who are they to judge? The last time I checked, you didn’t walk on water, have special powers, and you put your pants on one leg at a time like everyone else.
Let me be clear. I am not saying it is wrong to believe in God, and I am saying it is ok to ask questions. I have deep religious beliefs as well, but faith is all we can have because there are no true answers to religion.
Solution- be open minded and respectful to others personal views and beliefs. Just because you believe in one thing, and they believe in something else, does not mean they are wrong. Do not push your personal beliefs on others. It creates animosity and further division between people. Stay true to your morals, values, & beliefs. After all, it is your life, not someone else’s to live. Remember at the end of the day, all we can do is have faith that in the after life there is something better than the world we live in. In the mean time, live life to the fullest, love with all your heart, and treat others the way they want to be treated.