Gods are what man makes them. Gods always are manipulated to fit certain beliefs viewed by man. No one is enlightened by a god without hearing about him first. A great quote summing up what i am talking about is this:
“If I take a lamp and shine it toward the wall, a bright spot will appear on the wall. The lamp is our search for truth ... for understanding. Too often, we assume that the light on the wall is God, but the light is not the goal of the search, it is the result of the search. The more intense the search, the brighter the light on the wall.
The brighter the light on the wall, the greater the sense of revelation upon seeing it. Similarly, someone who does not search — who does not bring a lantern — sees nothing.”
“What we perceive as God is the by-product of our search for God. It may simply be an appreciation of the light ... pure and unblemished ... not understanding that it comes from us. Sometimes we stand in front of the light and assume that we are the center of the universe — God looks astonishingly like we do — or we turn to look at our shadow and assume that all is darkness. If we allow ourselves to get in the way, we defeat the purpose, which is to use the light of our search to illuminate the wall in all its beauty and in all its flaws; and in so doing, better understand the world around us.”
-- Citizen G’Kar, Babylon 5
Organized religion is the last refuge of the mentally befuddled, unable to think for themselves and relying on some "wisdom" handed down from people who, at the time, had barely emerged from the Stone Age
I do not believe in God--definitely not in the way God is generally understood by the posters on this forum.
This is because I do not believe that I am in a position of privilege with respect to my beliefs. I do not wish to claim that I am right and others are wrong. My main concern is not "what is true?" How could I know for sure? Clearly, we don't all agree and I am not so egocentric as to think that only I am right.
Rather, my concern is what is the better way for us to live our lives, both individually and as a community. What can "actually" be determined about a fundamental belief is not whether it is right or wrong--humankind has spent thousands of years and can not reach agreement. What can be determined are the consequences that result from believing a certain way. Ultimately, that determination is made by history.
For this reason, I believe it is important to attempt to understand what are the implications of holding a particular belief. What is the impact of a belief upon our actions? How might it effect the way we go about living our lives? How might it effect others?
My view is that belief systems based in an "I am right/If you disagree you are wrong" structure are inherently authoritarian, exclusionary and divisive. I am concerned about beliefs that I perceive as leading to dominance and exclusion rather than dialogue, mutuality and respect. I believe that these negative characteristics are generally inherent in the nature of the belief itself and/or subconscious of the believer rather than in any conscious intent.
Although it is not for me, I have great respect for all religions. I have seen religion to be a powerful and productive force in many lives. It is, however, when religious people attempt to make a claim on behalf of God, attempt to tell us all what is God's truth, that I believe they are attempting to exercise power over others. They forget the subjective basis of their faith and begin to make claims toward objective truth.
This, as I see it, is not having faith in the truth, but staking one's own claim to that truth. And I am not comfortable with human beings owning God.
Faith in God is incredibly intimidating to an intelligent person. The very definition of faith is to believe in something that you cannot prove. Actually, faith in God doesn't intimidate me - it simply makes me sad to see a human being deliberately abandon reasoned discourse in favor of saying "I just believe it, so there." To be quite honest, I consider it a tacit admission of a faulty position when a person deliberately exempts a belief from logical and reasoned critique. The idea that faith is somehow justified by the fact that the beliefs cannot be proven is a truly Orwellian position to adopt - not to mention intellectually and ethical dangerous. Religion is ritual,... man-made accutriments of faith.
You can do things religiously, which have nothing o do with a place of worship, or faith. You can go to a place of worship and not have faith, and you can have faith and not go to the place of worship.
The prize-punishment system is one of the basic pillars in all religions, so in the end it doesn't matter which is the meaning of the words "heaven" or "hell", or the individual meaning they have for each. Just keeping in mind that for all of them one is the prize, and the other the punishment, it is not even necessary to achieve a general agreement of what they are. Its their meanings what count. If they follow what their faith dictates them, they'll go to heaven, therefore, get the prize. If they don't behave and live according to their religion's laws, they'll go to hell, therefore, be punished.
As far as hell and stuff, just look at it as something made up by religion to scare people into their belifes. And to me, no one should believe in something out of fear.
Most religious texts are mostly mythology entwined with a little bit of history. Just some nice stories people made up to answer their questions about the universe.Hell was a good story to use to convert people. Obviously it's worked because there are many people who will say they're christian or muslim or jew "just in case" there is a hell.
Most people can't bear to sit in a place of worship for an hour, How are they supposed to live somewhere very similar to it for eternity? "An individual is accepted into a place of worship for what he believes and turned out for what he knows." The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality.
"Faith is believing something as fact when you have no logical reason to do so."
The most profitless undertaking in the world is to get into a discussion about religion. You never arrive at a conclusion, seldom convince the other person & only end up producing a lot of heat. The way of the professional cleric throughout history has been to champion bigotry and trash reason.
Most of us are born into the faiths we profess or hold sacred. We belong to a particular religious order not because we have read the great religious texts and been persuaded of their merit but because we were born into a particular household. This being the genesis of any faith how does it behove us to impose our views on others, much less take up fire and sword to spread them?Deeply-held beliefs, are susceptible to no logic or reason. You believe and that's the end of the matter.
Religion is a matter of faith, woven into the tissues and sinews of the believer, part of his blood, of the very air he breathes. How can you change such a thing by debate or disputation? Isn't it best then to practice tolerance and let each person stick to the faith or lack of faith he/she professes? Live and let live and get on with the business of the world. These are commonplace observations with nothing original or profound about them.
Religion supports nobody. It has to be supported. It produces no wheat, no corn; it ploughs no land; it fells no forests. It is a perpetual mendicant. It lives on the labors of others, and then has the arrogance to pretend that it supports the giver.
Clergymen almost necessarily fail in two ways as teachers of morals. They condemn acts which do no harm and they condone acts which do great harm.
Ministers say that they teach charity. That is natural. They live on alms. All beggars teach that others should give.
The crime called blasphemy was invented by priests for the purpose of defending doctrines not able to take care of themselves. Blasphemy is an epithet bestowed by superstition upon common sense.