My long time pen pal and I write back and forth about many subjects. What keeps it interesting is that we don’t see eye to eye on everything. Religion is one of those things. This started out as a letter to her regarding my thoughts about god and the universe, but quickly evolved into something else. Thanks for keeping me on my toes, Luli.
To those I don’t feel like explaining myself to, I call myself an Atheist, but I’m certainly not an asshole about it like some folks. I am simply not religious, which is actually different from being an Atheist, but a lot of the time that explanation is simply not good enough. I tend to agree with a lot with certain aspects of Eastern thought, mainly because it’s philosophical and not technically religious. People can believe whatever they want for whatever reason. The problem I have is when people try to change the way I think and give me stupid reasons for it. For my part, I know what I think and why I think it, and I don’t need people to agree with me, nor do I have any desire to change the minds of others. I don’t like religion, but I know that there is some good in it. My grandfather was a pastor who lived and breathed by the word of god, and he was the greatest man I’ve ever known, so by association, it can’t be all bad. He never forced religion on me, but he was always willing to talk if I wanted to listen, which I think is the right way to go about it – live and let live, and help if you can. I could site the Crusades and many other things pertaining to the negative, but that’s sort of off topic. There are things that make me not believe, such as Astronomy (which I will get to shortly), certain details of evolution, and biblical contradictions, but suffice it to say that I don’t care if a god (or gods for that matter) exists. The thought of worshipping anything is “sinful” to me. God could prove that he/she exists to me today, and I would not change my ways. Living beings are not meant to live in guilt and have to worry about whether their actions or thoughts (thoughts!) might be looked down upon by a jealous higher being. Religion was used to keep the lower classes in order, to establish a hierarchy, a caste system. In my eyes, it really has no place in the world today, save to give people some hope that there is more to life than, well, life. No one wants to think that we cease to exist once we die. This is part of the reason I am so against suicide.
Regarding the power of prayer and wishful thinking, God (the universe, whatever) would be under no obligation to give people what they want. There are roughly 7 billion people in the world (meaning 7 billion souls by Christian standards) and over 106 billion people who have ever existed (http://www.prb.org/articles/2002/howmanypeoplehaveeverlivedonearth.aspx), and god would have the magnitude of the universe to take care of, so why would an all powerful being even think about what ONE person thinks or wants? To point out how tiny we really are, think of Earth in relation to our solar system. Under the best of conditions in the fastest spacecraft currently available, it would take a ship somewhere between 150 and 260 days to reach Mars, and that’s one of our “neighboring” planets. Scientists hope to one day be able to launch a satellite as far out as Pluto (Dwarf planet, I know) and have it get there in less than ten years. And that’s just the edge of our solar system, whose planets revolve around our sun, a star. Okay. Our star is one of hundreds of billions of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, which is one of hundreds of billions of galaxies, each with a mind boggling distance between them. There are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on all of the beaches on Earth. Whoa, right? And what does that speak of beings on other planets (I find it hard to believe that the universe is that big and we’re the only planet with life) and other species, even ones on Earth? Just because we run the show here doesn’t mean we’re necessarily the only ones with souls, granted a soul is to be believed in. Even if god or whoever heard prayers, in the scope of the universe, it doesn’t matter if people get what they want – the world still turns (or, the universe still expands, depending on the viewpoint).
As far as Earth is concerned, I think all people are equal. It goes back to the scope of things. Like a drop of water when looked at under a microscope is a world unto itself, we are the tiny parts (however intelligent) that make up the whole of our planet – we ARE the world. God/religion just doesn’t factor into that for me. Limitations on how you can or can’t think, how and who you can or can’t fuck, and overall how you have to live and die, and many other things just come off as silly to me. Some people point to how Christians are charitable and help people – yes, because by and large they will often feel guilty otherwise. I give when I can, but not to appease a higher power or to assuage any feelings of guilt, to push my agenda, or some other end, but because, however diverse we are, in the end, we are the same.
Religion really has no place in the modern world. Technology has become god, and man is doing all he can to live easier, but that easy living is making our existence a virus to the planet. Maybe foretelling of the Apocalypse was an ancient cynical prediction – and now we have the technology to completely destroy ourselves. How funny that humanity’s race to evolve might end with man destroying himself. Is that what god would want? If he is in control of everything, then that’s the ultimate end for us. Space travel is extremely dangerous, which means that god wouldn’t want us to leave the planet, but as numerous experts attest, leaving the planet is the ONLY way that humans will survive. I won’t even start on the cyclical Ice Ages or Eternal Recurrence. How funny that the only way to survive as a species is to be ungodly. Granted, I know that these are only MY views (and I skipped lots of philosophy and thoughts on interpersonal relationships to keep this from dragging on so long that people, including me, lose interest), but I didn’t come to think this way simply by faith, which I think is a total cop-out reason to claim anything. Don’t really know why you think or feel a certain way? Well then faith is your get-out-of-thinking-free card. The Ontological Argument also gets on my nerves. Do I believe in some higher power/force/element? Yes. I don’t think we have discovered all there is. I bet people thought they knew everything before they found out that the Earth is round, too. We are still evolving. Well, some of us anyway; others are content to waste their lives away on drugs, booze, and/or the small scale of their lives. So many people in the first world live in a dream and criticize reality. In the scope of time and space, we live for less than the blink of an eye, so we owe it to ourselves to do all we can to love, learn, live life to the fullest, be good to each other, and be happy. If daily life is a constant downer, then baby, you’re fuckin’ up. Grow, change, move, evolve, and truly live (and other verbs too)… or don’t; the universe doesn’t care either way.