Gainesville Ramblings

This is a blog, and thus it barely qualifies as writing, let alone formal writing, so I'd not let it bother you.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Religion 2: Electric Boogaloo

I'm sorry about the title. I'm just tired enough that it seems funny.

So back to my previous post: Religion. Disclaimer same as before.

My belief structure is based around two theories. The first of which I call the Faith Conundrum. I don't claim that I'm the first one to invent it, but I'm pretty sure I came up with it on my own. It goes a little like this:

Me: (to Believer) How do you know that your religion is correct?

Believer: Because I have Faith.

Me: OK, so you believe that your religion is correct because of the Faith you feel and the peace you gain from the religion, right?

Believer: Yes.

Me: Well, how is that faith any different than that felt by those of different religions? If you asked them why they believe, eventually it would boil down to "Because I have Faith."

There is no logical answer for that. You can't prove that one particular religion is correct because it always boils down to the beliefs of the individual. I'm not saying that because you can't prove any particular religion is the right one, all should be done away with. Rather, I'm saying that because one religion can't be shown to be more right than any other, all are of equal worth.

This leads directly into my other conclusion about religion, which I call The Problem of God's Love. It goes a little like this: Most religions, and all of the most popular ones, say that God loves us. We are His most wonderful creation. But then religions say that the ones God really loves are those who follow X religion. All the others are, at best, going to be denied a place by God's side (or whatever the religion promises. I'm most familiar with Judeo-Christian-Islamic religions, so I tend to use those as examples). This is directly contradictory to the previous conjecture that God loves people.

Take Christianity. There are, at best, about 2 billion Christians in the world. There are over 6 billion in the world. Going by Christian teachings, only those who follow Jesus Christ will go to heaven. That means of the people currently living, at least 2/3rds will go to Hell, to endure eternal pain, torture, and suffering. Why would a God who claimed to be a loving God do this to his children? I choose to believe that he wouldn't. I find the world to be too full of wonder and love to believe that God does anything but love all his children, every single one of them.

Well, that's the basis of my beliefs. What about the particulars?

- About going to church: If almost all religions are equally valid paths to God, then that should logically mean that not following any path in particular is OK as well. For me, I don't have to go to a church to feel a connection to God. All it takes is a walk in the woods, a paddle through a lake, meeting someone new, having a deep conversation with someone old, going to an art museum, or anything else that shows the great diversity of the world. This doesn't mean that I feel like going to Church is pointless. If it works for you, then by all means, go. But its not needed for me.

- The nature of God: I have conflicting views about this. Two theories present themselves. The first is that there is one God, who puts on many different faces for all people. For Hindus, the many faces of the many gods, for Muslims, they see Allah. For Atheists, they see a chaotic universe full of chance. That's fine too. God can be these things to everyone. He is all powerful, after all. The other stems mostly from Terry Pratchett's Small Gods, where gods vie for belief, which is sustenance for them. I've always believed in the amazing power of people in groups, so is it possible that we create gods through our belief? The concentrated power of many people believing in one thing may be able to effect the structure of the universe. That's a little too new agey for me most of the time, so I tend to lean towards the first theory.

- Heaven: I believe that people get what they deserve. Good people go to a good place. Evil people don't. I also tend to believe that where you believe you are going or will happen plays a big part in your final destination. I haven't worked out a huge amount of the specifics of this.

Am I right? Well, I have faith. That's good enough for me

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