Living Your Life by a Book
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I don't think it's a secret that I have something against organized religion. I've never tried to keep that a secret, and I've struggled to explain why throughout my articles. In my quest to discover people with similar points of view to my own, I came across some fairly interesting speakers, as well as upon some conspiracy theorists that believe everyone is out to get them. This duality in people who shun religious beliefs resembles the duality of religious people as well. More accurately, the duality of various religious groups. We shall call them the moderates and the fundamentalists, or fanatics.
The former group is the mass. We will stick to talking about groups in the United States, because here the divide is the most visible, and almost asks to be analyzed. In the US, at this point, it is considered OK to talk about all possible subjects, including politics, sports, climate change and leisure time, but this freedom of expression stops when it comes to speaking about religion. This is considered a taboo, something pertaining to each individual, and which cannot, and should not be changed. I will cover why this is limiting, and detrimental to society later on.
The second group is smaller, but also more dedicated and subversive. The fanatics are all the more dangerous because they actually believe that they are right. They also have the nerve of pretending that they know what God wants. I don't have any system of reference – a higher power to pray to or other such thing – but it seems to me that claiming to know what your Creator (if you believe in such things) is thinking, or what it wants, is simply stretching it too far. This is the same thing that Catholic priests and the Inquisition did when they killed thousands of innocent people. If they had that power, they would undoubtedly continue to do so.
Another reason why fundamentalists are dangerous is because they believe they have the ultimate truth, Moreover, their ultimate truth is “better” than that of other religions. This is obvious in the case of Christian fanatics, who consider Islam to be the work of the devil, and think it's their duty to ensure their words will not spread. This sets up the required conditions that Samuel Huntington spoke off in his amazing book, The Clash of Civilizations. In the work, the author reveals that the next wars, if any, will be carried out in the name of cultural differences, and not necessarily between countries.
In the US, the ultra-conservative religious groups are taking advantage of the work that moderates are putting forward, in an attempt to safeguard the freedom of religion. Under this cover, fundamentalists are setting the groundwork for what they perceive to be their mission (again, the talking to God part). This is extremely alarming, but people in the United States don't seem to care. Slowly, but surely, religious fanatics are making their way into the upper classes of leadership. Thankfully, George Bush got kicked out of the White House, but his religious ideology persists. The separation of church and state took place centuries ago, but now far-right religious extremists want it back.
The problem I, personally, have with religion, and the Christian faith most of all, is the fact that they keep pressing on into my life, and the lives of people around me. I've made my choice, to live accepting that there are things I cannot control, and that every day is something new, and not predefined and planned for me. I choose to see coincidences for what they are, and not as signs of God's existence. I choose not to see the face of Jesus in a grilled sandwich, or on the misty windows of a car. And, most of all, I understood that you make your own faith. If you give proper consideration to everything you do, and consider the implications of your actions, then you will succeed where others fail.
So, I have these choices. They are mine, although admittedly a bit influenced by my personal experiences and other such things. These ideas don't come from the devil, as religious people would have you believe, but from my own mind, which is capable of weighing pros and cons of each single thing I do. So, my point is, if I've made my decision, why try to convert me to the “way?” Why do all brands of Christian groups send people at my door, asking me about my life, and the faith of the world, and if I wouldn't mind accepting Jesus as my lord and savior?
I don't wish to accept that. I did not ask for it, and I do not need it. If, when I die, it turns out that there is a God, and that I will go to Hell for what I believed all my life, then so be it, I have no such fear. But apparently these people believe that it is their “holy duty” to free me of my sinful life. I have no desire to be freed of my life, and I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that many of us are simply content with living our lives. In either case, the problem is not visits from these religious groups.
The main problem is the fact that some groups believe that if I'm not with them, I'm against them. This is the narrowest point of view possible, and fully demonstrates the purely evil influence that books such as the Bible and Qur'an have on people. Though they may preach good will and self-sacrifice on the surface, they are in fact used to promote intolerance and hatred towards those who are different. After all, it says in the Bible that Jesus himself asked for those who do not believe in him to be brought in front of him, and killed. So, what could we ask of those who are blind enough to follow a book simply because it's old? And because they actually believe it came from some god?
Should we accept that people who believe they represent divine justice are our leaders? I don't think that's a mistake we can afford to make for much longer. Bush even proposed that “common-sense” judges be appointed to decide on legal matters. Do you realize the extreme stupidity and dangers of that? A religious judge, most likely a Christian, passing common-sense judgments on a Jew, a Muslim or a Hindu? Under what right? How is that Constitutional? None of these questions seem to be asked. Still, if they are, too few people ask them, and the far-right conservative groups, under the cover of religious free speech, are invulnerable to them, and continue their subversive work.
In a sense, moderates are to be blamed for this, as they are the ones promoting freedom of religion to the extreme. Granted, they are animated by good intentions, but they seem to be oblivious to the damage they are inflicting on themselves and others. If I live to see some form of Inquisition restored, I will laugh really, really hard when I see fanatics put through trials and then purged for being “less religious than God wants.” By then, people will realize what's happening, but there would be nothing more they can do.
If you think this is alarmist talk, don't. The White House is already filled with lobby groups, which militate frantically for various “moral percepts” to be added to various laws. Morals and good feelings, such as mercy, compassion and good-will are not something that religion teaches, it's something people are born with. They stem from us being social creatures. The Founding Fathers of America wanted the country to be free of the creeping religious influence that was keeping Europe in the dark during those years. They wanted a free country. They are now most likely twisting in their graves, when seeing that people honoring their statues are also pushing for the theory of evolution to be removed from schools.
How bad is that? Evolution removed, and creationism taught. A fairy tale, a story derived from a 2,000-year-old book shown to students as the truth. This is a recipe for disaster, if I ever saw one. Solid scientific work is being cast out the window, so that fundamentalists can push forward their agenda of control, masked as saving people. Just think about this for a second. They say that God, with its own hands, placed the dinosaur fossils into the ground, so as to test our faith. How does anyone with a 1,300-cubic-centimeter brain believe that? What twisted processes go on inside, which make this ludicrous and ridiculous statement true?
Regardless of what I say, religious fanatics will access the comment section, and leave hate mails, or find some poor grammar construction to pick on, or call me a hypocrite, or two-faced, or whatever. Others will say that they will pray for me. I've been there before, and to all of you who think of doing so, just forget it. You could try to say that the same arguments I gave work both ways, but I take pride in the fact that most of the readers entering this page understood what I was talking about, and did not have their minds clouded by fantasies.
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|Comment #1 by: Alain on 21 Nov 2009, 15:29 UTC|| reply to this comment|
I was wondering what it's all about (judging from the title) to realize that it is another somewhat hatred message as such conveyed by those religious fanatics. Man, what do you different from them? I'm all about technology and I don't mind anymore the shouting every mornings and afternoons of my days (if you don't know what I'm talking about, go and live a day or two in a city of middle east region) or the deafening bells, when that happens I just put on my headset, listen to whatever I would like to and go on working with my computer. By the way, which verse of the Bible says that Jesus himself asked for those who do not believe in him to be brought in front of him, and killed? If you can give me the exact location it will be really interesting to show it to "them". And, yes, Catholic has dark pasts that can't be erased but to admit, but they never knock on my door, the Protestants do though, trying to convince me to go with this church or that church of one's preference, but I don't mind, just shut the door closed or tell them what I always believe. Well, like you've said, what I believe is for myself and I don't mind if you don't want to believe or listen to it, it's my believe anyway (I don't see any problem of that whatsoever with you). Now, for your entertainment, I am Indonesian and a proud Catholic myself and my every believe tied to my religion, and the believe I hold based on learning every aspects of my religion compared to some other including Protestant, Islam, Hindu, Buddha (can you believe it, I have listened to them as well). Anyway, the point of my comment is conveyed in the first sentence, trying to guess what your point though. Cheers mate.
|Comment #2 by: Mladen on 21 Nov 2009, 15:33 UTC|| reply to this comment|
Look I understand that You are little bit scared because of all those bad things which people do in the name of religion but I just want to tell You that in my heart Jesus is the 1. one because just He died for me, living me Holly Spirit and love which is perfect. My opinion is that is better for me have wish to be like Jesus then like Superman what is fantasy. So merry Christmas what, for me, is not party or similar thing, it is His birthday. He is alfa and omega. And I need to tell You that I dont live my life by a book, I live my life by Jesus and His Spirit. That is not dead thing like printing words, that is living Word which can change every heart. Sorry for my bad english. Best regards...
|Comment #3 by: atheist on 22 Nov 2009, 05:33 UTC|| reply to this comment|
I just wanted to be one of the guys who agree with you, amongst all the other spam and hate mail :)
One day, I see a world without religion
|Comment #5 by: N. Takeru on 22 Nov 2009, 22:29 UTC|| reply to this comment|
Please, could you point me to where in the bible is:
"it says in the Bible that Jesus himself asked for those who do not believe in him to be brought in front of him, and killed."
|Comment #6 by: Vincent on 23 Nov 2009, 02:47 UTC|| reply to this comment|
After all, it says in the Bible that Jesus himself asked for those who do not believe in him to be brought in front of him, and killed.
Where does it say that. Please enlighten me.
|Comment #7 by: Ben on 23 Nov 2009, 05:33 UTC|| reply to this comment|
Well said. Let's hope that the division between state and religion stays that way. And that creationist learn to use a dictionary and look up the word theory...
|Comment #8 by: Tudor Vieru on 23 Nov 2009, 10:20 UTC|| reply to this comment|
He replied, 'I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away. 27But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me."
|Comment #9 by: Mladen on 23 Nov 2009, 21:39 UTC|| reply to this comment|
I am sorry but I need to tell you that we cant put away one verse out of story. What I want to say is this: In Lucas Jesus want to explain how spiritual things works. For example if God give me talent or more talents I need to share those talents whit others, I cant keep it for myself because God give things for good of everyone not just for selfishly use of one. Those talents needs to be benefit or others throw one person. If we show Christ, Who is the only pure light in this world, as someone Who is not Saint tis world will be in darkness and sin 100%. And please dont try to show Him like something bad because he learn as how to live for others not just for as. And of course every one who want to live in sin end evil will go to hell to take payment for bad things but if you feel bed in your heart for bad things you have been done ask Him to forgive you and he will forgive, you will feel that, I am (but if you have heart of stone and you dont care about bad things what you have been done or you dont want to confess sorry but then ...hell
|Comment #10 by: N. Takeru on 25 Nov 2009, 03:07 UTC|| reply to this comment|
It's necessary to (at least) read Luke 19:11 before going to 19:27 (where he supposedly said that) to clearly read it is a PARABLE...
"kill them in front of me" can be easily read as "bring in front of me (so I can judge them) and then (if found guilty) send them to hell (hell as the second death, punishment, whatever)"
I mean, those aren't exactly Jesus' own words, but a mere example, a quoting (look to the quotes in text...) and that's very different and so they shouldn't be taken literally. (as most people like to do...)
Here is what Google gave to me:
PS: Wow! you made me go to a bible!
PSS: English is not my native lang so please pardon any mistakes I possibly made.
|Comment #11 by: jlk on 13 Dec 2009, 20:13 UTC|| reply to this comment|
I agree that religions are a human construct. However, it is so deeply ingrained and "religiously" taught to children generation after generation that it is simply not going away. There is no God controlling our lives but most of the world believes there is. Trying to convince them otherwise is futile. What needs to be done, and which is often done, is to push back when religion pushes too hard against secularism. Religious groups call this the "War on Religion" or the "war on Christmas" and we call it "seperation of state and religion". Remember, most previous religiously driven cultural taboos such as interacial marriage and women voting were overcome by time. The same will be true for the "gay marriage" debate of today. (As an atheist I wouldn't get married since marriage is at its root a decree from God that has been woven into our secular legal system. Of course there are religious homosexuals who might want to get married...)
So push back when needed, tell your political canidates that religion has nothing to do with obtaining your vote but may actually cost them it, and believe in the wisdom of time.
Personally I know Jesus Christ was a man who lived on this planet. He spread a philisophy of caring for others above oneself; of turning the other cheek. His disciples and followers turned that into Christianity which deified him. I do not have to believe he was the Son of God to see the wisdom of following his teachings in my daily life. I am an atheist who lives his life keeping the fundamental teaching of Christ front and center when so many who believe he was the Son of God do not. Am I still going to hell?
|Comment #12 by: qslowpoke on 17 Dec 2009, 20:53 UTC|| reply to this comment|
I agree with the author and have writen several essays in college paralel to this essay.
|Comment #13 by: allyPOUM on 21 Dec 2009, 15:02 UTC|| reply to this comment|
I am a Scot (living in London) so, coming from a broadly secular culture which values education and democratic ideals, I am constantly amazed at the level of debate which seems to plague every comment thread in every website I subscribe to - no matter what their principal interest - be it movies, science and technology, whatever - which has a large US contingent.
I therefore have nothing but respect and admiration for the courage of the author of this editorial, being, as he is, US - based. Here, it takes courage to stand up and preach religion (you'd get boo'ed off the stage in short order - among normal people, at least) There, as I am learning, it is the opposite. As a site dedicated to science and technology, it seems only right and proper that the current sway held by the religious right in the US ought to be challenged here. Therefore it is not, as one poster suggests, some 'merely' personal bugbear of the author - it's a highly relevant expression of the deep unease felt by many with a stake or interest in science and rationality in these times when we are threatened by "Taliban" - like nutcases, with serious power, East and West. All power to his elbow.
|Comment #13.1 by: Tudor Vieru on 21 Dec 2009, 15:54 GMT|
I appreciate your comment, allyPOUM. I'm glad you understand what I've been trying to say.
Also, I am not based in the US, but in Romania, in Eastern Europe.
Thanks for our comment,
|Comment #14 by: allyPOUM on 21 Dec 2009, 17:59 UTC|| reply to this comment|
Fervent apologies for my error! I just assumed as much due to the seemingly US - centric bias of the site in general... Suppose you could say that of a lot of things that aren't necessarily in the US. Hope you aren't too offended! keep up the good work, liking the site.
|Comment #15 by: Andy on 21 Dec 2009, 22:26 UTC|| reply to this comment|
I see a circle in civilization path - the current push of the market into fast development, technological the most, and promoting fear of disease, terrorism, online security and so, without teaching how to cope with all this unknown, lead people back to Gods and Spirits for help, as it did in the first place. It's hard to choose optimism in current circumstances, for me at least. My only hope is education, in the sense of tools for understanding and handling the unknown, a critical thinking school, for instance. Not today education - create better workers.
Does anyone know an initiative in this direction?
|Comment #16 by: JB on 23 Dec 2009, 13:04 UTC|| reply to this comment|
Do you believe that there is such thing as an absolute truth? Also, you stated that you do not think it is a good idea, or essentially right, to live your life by a book, or at least it is a limited way. What governs your life, morals, and choices? I appreciate your post even though I may not agree with it, due to its thought provoking nature and I look forward to your response.
|Comment #17 by: Tudor Vieru on 23 Dec 2009, 15:24 UTC|| reply to this comment|
No need for apologies, it was an honest mistake :)
An absolute truth is a philosophical concept, and therefore by definition unobtainable.
As for the life-governing part of your questions, I am a part of the school of thought which believes that humankind is born with the abilities to exhibit all the virtues that each religions claims to promote, such as being kind to others, doing good deeds, not harming others, and generally living in harmony with everyone. I strongly believe that no one should need the justification of Jesus, Buddha, Allah, or whichever deity they believe in, to be good individuals, and to behave in moral ways. What I'm trying to say is that, if you have it in you, then you simply do, and don't need impulses from other individuals, groups, or organizations, to behave in a kind, moral way.
I also think that people's need to believe in a Creator stems from their need to think that someone with the ultimate authority is watching over them.This brings comfort in time of need, which would otherwise be more difficult to get by. Not having anyone to turn to for help is a grim feeling, and I have experienced it many times. Still, I think people shouldn't choose the easy way out, to simply believe everything that is written in the Bible or other Holy Books is the ultimate truth, because it clearly is not. The simple fact that they were written 2,000 years ago or more should be a clear indicator that they are no longer valid.
And the fact that people now want to run countries by these percepts, and judge others based on some ancient parables , only goes to strengthen my disapproval of organized religion. If God were alive, I am convinced that he would have stopped all the atrocities and crimes done by the church and religious people against others. And to believe in a God that allowed for such cruelty to have endured for millenia is simply beyond me.
I hope this answers your questions.
If you have others, I would be glad to answer them
Thank you for posting,
|Comment #18 by: Aspenaz on 25 Sep 2012, 11:17 UTC|| reply to this comment|
hmmm some time life is quite challenging and one think of giving up once and for all. forgeting that when he/she end his/her life, life will still go on. the little advice i have for everybody is that, whether you like it or not challenging will come at some point in time so far as our physical and spiritual existence are concerned. be focused, use creative statements like, how can i improved upon this situation and other motivating words. with this you always gather courage and store confident your endeavors. thank you all. ben 0277495182.
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