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.
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