Obviously, my religion is something that I go back and forth on all the time. For a long time I was simply a raver.. I believed in peace, love, unity, respect, and dancing, and playing interesting games with my body chemistry. This mostly served my needs when I was younger, and gave me something of a code of ethics to live by.
When I first started out, my parents attempted to raise me Methodist. I don't know what rankled the most about it, but as a result of that experience I built up a considerable amount of anger towards christiantiy. I will be the first to admit that for the most part actual Christians have treated me with decency and respect - although, as a group, they do a lot of terrible things, the individuals seem to be good people. But nonetheless, whenever I listen to a Christian preacher, or read the bible, or talk to a Christian about their religion, I get very, very angry.
I've got a number of reasons. I'll probably be working on this document for some time, and there are probably a number of you out there who will take it as a good indication that my soul is doomed for all eternity, but here are a few of the reasons taht I've got a hard time accepting the God painted by the Christians as the supreme being:
a: Hell. I know that a number of people get out of this one by saying that hell is being seperated from God, but there are people out there in the world who actually believe that God will torture someone for all eternity for not believing in Jesus - even though it's very, very difficult to say what happened 2000 years ago and 15,000 miles away. It's pretty clear that humans make up stories, and that they lie, and I don't think that spiritual matters are immune from either of these tendancies.
b: The myriad of religions: there's a whole host of human religions.. probably a few new ones each day. I have get to receive any sort of communication that I was convinced came from any supreme beings, and I've done just about everything I can to indicate that I'm willing to listen. We've got this document full of all sorts of nasty human behavior called the Bible, which really isn't what I want from a text to base my life off of - and we've got similar documents for several other religions - and if there's a God out there, he or she is staying pretty much mute on the subject of which of them is real.
c: The viral nature of the bible: Extremely oversimplified, a virus is a peice of information which, under the right circumstances, tells something or someone to make a copy of it. The bible is clearly a virus - it encourages the readers of it to tell other people about it, it encourages them strongly not to modify it and threatens all kinds of nasty things if they do - it's clearly a informatinal virus. If it operated on computers instead of humans, we'd have software specifically designed to remove it.
todo: more of these
So, basically, human religions aren't useful for figuring out, spiritually, what's going on. At least, they're somewhat lacking as a road map for me to use thus far. What I want out of a religion is a combination of reassurance and hope and a set of suggestions for how to be a good human, along with comments about what is likely to happen if I don't follow them and why. I would like to think that any supreme being that there is would be more ethical than to sit around judging other people - but then, certainly I've done enough judging of God that perhaps s/he is entitled to return the favor. However, except perhaps on my darkest days, I wouldn't torture God, nor hurt him or her (except possibly by doing things she or he wouldn't like, or thinking things that she or he wouldn't like) while if you believe some of the Christians, God is going to take actions that will result in me being tortured for enternity if s/he doesn't like what I do or say or (possibly) think. Now, a little side digression on prayer. There's some interesting implications to prayer - either God is constantly listening to everything you think - truly a immoral activity by most people's standards - or has some way of sensing when you direct a thought toward him or her. I don't have any problem with the second possibility, but i am sort of wondering about the implimentation details. It's pretty clear that there are personalities.. people.. other than me who have access to my thoughts at times - I experienced a breif period of 'hearing voices' at one time in my life, and they definately reacted to things that I thought. I've never figured out whether these voices are subsets of my personality/brain/neural net, other entities that I share my body with, or something else entirely. Another side digression - one possibility that I've played with is that the supreme being is Satan - that God is evil. This isn't that hard to believe when you look at things like cancer and tidal waves that kill hundreds of thousands of people and.. honestly, things like money. God has unlimited resources, creates us without asking our permission, and then doesn't share.. Perhaps God created us to have something to torture. On my darker days, this seems like a reasonable possibility.
On the other hand, another possibility that seems reasonable is that there are several (at least two) dieties instead of one, and one of them is better than my best daydreams, and the other worse than my worst nightmares.
Another possibility is that God is neither good nor evil, but neutral - a person, if you will, not a archtype. This would make some of the particularly horrible behaviour in the old testiment explicable - God growing up. Imagine a three-year-old with infinate power..
However, what doesn't look likely (to me) is that God would send his son Jesus down to earth, once, and require him to die because I do things wrong sometimes. This makes .no. sense. God, being omnipotent, is quite capable of forgiving my sins, whatever they might happen to be, without having to kill anyone.
As far as I can tell, Christians become convinced that the bible is true, and then refuse to accept any contrary data. Then, they have kind of a group moral code that they then try to apply to everyone - non-Christians included. There are some things they don't like, and they insist that you shouldn't have the right to do them. The one that angers me the most is their dislike of homosexual marriage - common sense says that if people are gay, they are gay because God made them that way. Of course homosexuality is going to feel vaugely uncomfortable to people who are strongly heterosexual - and vice versa. This doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with either option - well, heterosexuality might be bad because it causes children. (A subject for a whole other essay). They also don't like abortions.. apparently, they think that God can't manage to do something about any souls that might get mislayed this way - apparently omnipotence doesn't extend to taking care of human feti even though it does extend to reading our thoughts. Hm. They also don't like premarital sex, and they think that they should be able to control who and how many get married. They insist that their beliefs are the only ones that could possibly be right and that all others are heresay and the work of Satan.
Actually, this brings up a interesting point - if one takes a look at all the things that Satan is supposed to have come up with that bring happiness, fulfilment, and excitement into the lives of people, one has to conclude that Satan is a pretty smart cat. Something doesn't entirely make sense here...
More late.r
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