Monday, September 7, 2009

On Faith.

When I used to ask questions regarding religion when I was a kid, the answers I usually got were “God works in mysterious ways”, “We weren’t meant to understand” and “You just have to have Faith.” Even the 11 year old I was on the time thought answers like these were cop outs. They didn’t answer any questions. They just deflected them, such that answers weren’t necessary.

Faith. I really hate that one. To me, that means you have to believe, and believe fervently, without the support of any facts or observable evidence. We are supposed to turn off our logical, fact based thought processes and just accept what is written in some book whose origins are pretty obscure at best that was written anywhere from 1800 to 2500 years ago. You know, back before humans had the basics of scientific understanding about the universe we live in. Oh, we were actually pretty good at math back then. The stone monuments and calendars we have left from that period demonstrate that. But scientific knowledge? No, we did not have that.

Yet, I am being asked to believe, to have “faith”, in a supernatural being that ancient people believed in before people even understood that the Earth was a sphere and the miniscule role it plays in the universe. I am expected to accept this without question. Additionally, I am supposed to choose this specific religion, again without facts, over the myriad of other religions that currently exist today. This one here (let’s just call it “Christianity” for the sake of discussion) is The One Truth, and all those over there (say, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and even variants, both greater and lesser, of Christianity itself) are “false” religions.

God really expects us to make that choice on Faith alone, without any supporting evidence? That’s a pretty insane expectation, if He knows anything about human beings. Which, given that He made us in His own image and all that, He really should have known how this would all turn out.

God is omnipresent and omniscient, yet He couldn’t see what a crummy system this was and that mankind would wage neverending wars in His name over which religion that everyone is supposed to take on Faith alone?

And guess what? There’s a bonus question! If you get your answer wrong, the one that was based solely on Faith without any supporting evidence, you are an infidel and destined to go to Hell for all eternity! And it doesn’t matter if you were brought up in the middle of Pakistan, where the chances of you learning about Christianity in a positive light are as near to zero as things are ever going to get. You are damned and will suffer eternal torment because you never even had a chance.

This sounds so much like a rigged carnival game, where you get sucked in by slick barkers into investing more and more money, only to lose it all in the end. It would be funny if it weren’t all so sad. This is how I see the world’s societies today. Look at all the wasted human lives and incredible suffering that has been self-inflicted, all in the name of this or that religion. Now, I am not saying that, without religion, life on Earth would somehow become a paradise. It wouldn’t. Human beings are stupid, mean, territorial creatures that would find plenty of other reasons to kill and impoverish our fellow humans without bringing our version of mythology into the picture. But, throughout the centuries, stop and take a minute to reflect on all the pain, hardship and suffering humans have endured, all because some group wanted to force their religion upon another group.

Faith. What a rotten word.


Thomas Say said...

The fact is, human beings have never wanted to be the inmates of a mad, insane world filled with callous rules and merciless executions. Surely, there must be someone out there fighting on our behalf, who will bust us out of prison and take us to a warm safe hideout free from madness and oppression?

Granted, what was once fear has mostly become acceptance, and the picture of our freedom fighter has become so bagged down with symbols, expectations and necessities that it starts losing credibility. Add to that the fact that certain people think THEY should get special treatment, and start fighting with each other about it, and it's clear that it's not the world that's mad and insane.

Then again, fear and insanity are intertwined with each other. People, whether child or grown-up, will believe the craziest things if it means no longer being afraid. God, the freedom fighter, the mentor, the Prince Charming, the great architect, the judge, the seat of reason, the gatekeeper to Paradise, the waiting lover, the rebel against Satan. Faith is a word of pity for those poor people who just want something to keep them safe.

zeppo said...

Very nice response, Thomas. Thanks very much for your input.

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

Hello Zeppo

I enjoyed your blog. I would ditto, Thomas Say. I think you might explore the Hermetics, the idea that the empirical substantiates the supernatural and clarifies not all, but offers you intelligent tools navigate with. The axiom, As Above, So know? But ... I liked the questions you posed in your blog.