velessa: (Religion - Dark Ages)
[personal profile] velessa
Yeah yeah, controversial topic and all, but this seems like an appropriate day to put it out there. Skip if you don't care/don't want to get offended. Icon gives you a good idea of my feelings about it.

I did not grow up religious. My parents don't practice anything and never went to church. We have fun at Christmas and Easter and decorate a tree and get presents and dye eggs and get chocolate, but just because that's what you do, no deeper meaning to it. I'm actually rather baffled as to why I was baptized as a baby; must have been the wishes of grandparents. I went to a Christian kindergarten and Catholic high school, and I was occasionally dragged to church (St. Paul's Methodist) by my grandmother, mainly on Easter, but that was the extent of my religious exposure. I remember some of the sermons and ideas being nice, but nothing terribly interesting or earth-shattering.

I find it absolutely ludicrous that something as insignificant as a mere *human being* would dare have the gall to claim to know jack shit about the true nature of the universe/possible higher powers. I'm agnostic. I would never have the sheer audacity to say I know the truth of the matter of things, and that's that. The bottom line is I DON'T KNOW AND NEITHER DO YOU.

No one knows! Could there be a God? Absolutely. Could there be a thousand gods? Sure. Could any religious mythology, from the Egyptians all the way up to today have guessed at what, if anything, is really lording over us? Could there be nothing at all, and everything can be explained by laws of nature if only we understood them? Again, yes, these are all possibilities. WE. DON'T. KNOW. And anyone who claims to have all the answers is just fooling themselves, along with all the poor saps who believe them.

And that's the crux of the problem right there. I've always felt that religion is the bane of human existence. Would the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, witch hunts, and 9/11 have happened if it weren't for the religious fervor driving them? Highly unlikely. Would Andrea Yates still have drowned her five children if she hadn't thought she was saving them from Satan? Would Matthew Shepherd still be alive if he hadn't lived in a community that preached hatred of those who were different? Who knows, but I think there's a damn good chance that without religion at work in those places, those people would still be alive. I'm sure that, human nature being what it is, people will always find *something* to fight about, but I think there'd be a hell of a lot less of it if they weren't dying for their deeply ingrained (faulty) beliefs.

Religion is unnecessary. It's been proven that people innately know right from wrong; no one has to threaten them with the possibility of eternity in Hell in order to keep them from doing terrible things. Those threats don't work, anyway! People are well aware when they do bad things that they're wrong, but they make the choice to do them anyway. The only ones who don't innately understand this are sociopaths who were born with no chance to begin with.

Worse, though, is that religion has a nasty habit of breeding intolerance and hatred of anything or anyone that doesn't agree with it. This has been proven again and again and again throughout history...when will it end? Religion divides people into "us" and "them," rather than bringing people together.

And the people it DOES bring together within any given sect are those who don't want to or don't know how to think for themselves. They merrily blindly follow the preaching of any old lunatic that appeals to them, happy to have someone else do their thinking for them. Then they raise their kids to follow the same tripe, brainwashing them from birth and never giving them the chance to figure out the world for themselves; only the lucky few eventually question their surroundings and manage to break free.

Perhaps the one thing religion does for people is makes them feel safe, like someone else is in charge and is guiding their lives, that they're not just here going it alone, and at the end they have some wonderful magical place to go to, so they are not so fearful of death. I suppose that's nice and all and some people need that kind of reassurance, but really I just feel like it's a rather cruel joke to fill their heads with hopes and lies, when in reality none of us know the truth of the matter. If it makes you feel better to believe in a Heaven and afterlife and all that (and I'd be lying if I said that I myself didn't hope for the existence of such a thing), go for it.

As I've said, my main problems with religion are 1) all the horrible things people do in the name of their beliefs, and 2) the fact that some people are pompous enough to claim that they know what the deal is and then try to tell others how they should live their lives according to their rules.

My feeling is that people are welcome to believe whatever they like, however silly I personally may find it, as long as their beliefs don't result in harm to anyone or anything else. I rather like the saying "An it harm none, do as ye will."

Date: 2011-09-12 01:59 am (UTC)
ext_22037: (john)
From: [identity profile]

Date: 2011-09-12 02:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I agree with you. I was raised as a strict Catholic but never really thought about religion much even though I went to Catholic school K-12. Once I actually thought about it, I was like, "Wait a second, none of this makes ANY SENSE!" and I quickly became an atheist.

I call myself an agnostic atheist. Agnostic meaning I don't know, and atheist meaning I don't believe in any gods. I might go one tiny step further and say that I'm pretty darn sure there is no god, (being that there is no evidence for one) but I can't really prove it, therefore, I'm not 100% sure... LOL.

If there is a god, he/she is the kind that doesn't give a damn about anything and is letting the world spin around as if it started on it's own and is if there is no god. And if this is the type of god that DID create me, I would not worship it. Saying that, if the Christian god existed, I would not worship him either.

Okay... I could talk about this for a while. I'll just stop. LOL
Edited Date: 2011-09-12 02:03 am (UTC)

Date: 2011-09-12 02:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Agree with you %100!!

I was raised hardcore Catholic, it was mostly forced upon me, and I remember being 5 or 6 and crying every Sunday because I didn't want to go to church:P My sister is choosing not to baptize her kids, and will let them decide for themselves what they want to do when they get older, and I think that it awesome.

Date: 2011-09-12 02:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Just to be the voice of dissent, I highly suspect that every evil thing you mentioned could have happened without religion. For example:

1. Getting rid of the Jews and Muslims probably had less to do with their religion than it did with a kind of cultural cleansing. In fact, the Catholic Church (at least if we assume Catholic = the Pope), was against it. It was entirely Isbela who wanted to get rid of the group(s) of people she'd spent her entire life fighting against, or at least force them to assimilate. Though the Church worked with her, it was at least initially against the idea. (And what was the alternative? She controlled Spain pretty completely. Incidentally, her husband, Ferdinand, also disagreed with the Inquisition. But she was a lot more powerful than he was, so...)

2. Witch hunts seem to be predominantly against elder widows as they tend to have money and be in a socially fragile position. They almost certainly have to do less with religion and more with economics. (i.e. if I kill Aunt Irene, I get to take her stuff. Nice.) Incidentally, if we judge by modern witch hunts, they also tend to happen with the family members of Aunt so and so are in a precarious position. (i.e. either I declare Aunt Irene a witch and have her burnt, or my kids starve.)

This isn't to say that religion is good. But humans are very, very capable of being evil without religion added to the mix. (Or at least they're very capable of being self serving.)

Date: 2011-09-12 02:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh I agree, I think the human species as a whole is quite repulsive and the planet would be much better off without it altogether. But I'd still rather know of the truth of "I want Aunt Irene's stuff" as opposed to "a burning bush told me to!"

Date: 2011-09-12 03:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Arguably, yes. But my guess is that humans have never been that straightforward. *shrugs* If there was no religion, someone would make up a new code of ethics for self-justification, I suspect.

Date: 2011-09-12 06:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Agree 100%. Religion, philosopy, and ideas are not in and of themselves the problem. They are not bad or good. Humans make it so.

Date: 2011-09-12 02:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

Raised atheist/agnostic but I went to a Catholic school and was quite involved in activism and social justice through my school. I have a lot of respect for some in the church, their faith and their activism and devotion to social justice and mercy amazes me, some of the best people I've ever met have been nuns and serious Catholics. But for all of that, there was a pile of dogmatic crap as well. 'Tradition' so often becomes an excuse for intollerance and unyieldingness, unwillingness to move forward.

To be fair though, not baptising kids and 'allowing them to choose' is a form of indoctrinisation- you grow up without faith, like I did. But that's not a bad thing.

Date: 2011-09-12 02:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I agree with this all. I'm dating a pretty conservative Lutheran, and that's different. I used to identify with Atheism, but I've always been more Agnostic.

Date: 2011-09-12 03:29 am (UTC)
ext_38010: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
I was vaguely raised Catholic (christened, church when I wanted to go, vacation bible school), and enjoyed the pomp and mystery of it (transubstantiation is a mind-boggling concept for a kid, and kinda cool, in the abstract), but never really bought into the dogma. Turned my back forever when faced with confession -- if there *is* anything out there, I didn't want an intermediary human standing between me and whatever.

And in the ensuing years, I've drifted further and further away. I simply don't get the desire to believe that so many others have. I don't have that desire, never did. And guess what, my life isn't a barren wasteland. It's possible to live happily enough without religion. I *do* get the social aspect, but not the spiritual or moral aspects. I don't need a book(s) written by other humans to dictate such matters to me.

I waver between agnosticism and atheism. I certainly don't believe in any higher power, because I see no proof for one (science answers most questions I have). But as you point out, it's hubris to state definitively that I know how the universe works -- there's more to know than we've discovered yet. Who knows, maybe Lovecraft was on to something and we'll find an Elder God when the ice caps melt....

(and I'm glad to hear of other families who thoroughly enjoy Easter and Christmas w/out the religious aspects -- that's how my family's always been).

Date: 2011-09-12 04:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Religion makes me mad 99.9% of the time.

Date: 2011-09-12 04:53 am (UTC)

Date: 2011-09-12 04:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
DAMN STRAIGHT. I'm mostly agnostic, or rather an "unbelieving heathen" as per Anthony Bourdain. Everything you said you took right from my mouth and mind, especially about things like the Crusades, the Inquisition, witch hunts, and so on.

Date: 2011-09-12 04:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I dislike the concept of "religion", generally. To me spirituality can be a wonderful asset to one's life, as long as you can have the realization that it's YOUR LIFE, and no one else's.

I am also probably the world's only buddhipagachristiatotemist (I believe in life totems and symbols that enter our lives to teach us lessons). But I believe chiefly in energy, like another sense.

Do I think there's a God? Sure. I think there's a heaven, and whatever "hell" we can imagine starts long before we die. But I believe our chief purpose on this earth is to do good, and improve the place before we pass on.

Date: 2011-09-12 04:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah, my problem is with organized religions; individual spirituality seems to have a better track record.

Date: 2011-09-12 06:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
How about we all become Buddhists - don't think they ever started any wars ...

I agree with you completely and emphatically especially now that I live and teach in the Bible Belt. I would categorize myself as an agnostic deist in that I think we can't "know," and moreover, we aren't supposed to "know" because if we did, the idea of faith becomes meaningless. By that I mean that if you accept the Bible/Koran/prophets/miracles as "proof" of a higher power, then the fact that you "believe" in that higher power doesn't mean very much. Not to mention the fact that if you think you have an instruction manual for living a good life then your virtue is about the equivalent of an obedient child and not anything so tremendous.

Morals and faith need to come from inside ourselves, how we are because reflection tells us that is the right way and not because whatever religion we espouse says we are right and will go to a reward in the afterlife. Heck, it should be what we do even if there is no afterlife. Heaven is not like the gold star you were given for good behavior when you were in first grade.

Oh, and I have your icon but I also love the one I used here too.
Edited Date: 2011-09-12 06:57 am (UTC)

Date: 2011-09-12 07:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ha! I haven't seen that one before, I love it.

I don't think I could survive in the Bible Belt, I'd probably be thrown in jail for murder. In high school I went on an immersion trip to the Appalachians in Kentucky, and we were forced to go to a church service there, with the full on fire-and-brimstone and gay hate preaching. I was shaking with rage the whole time, as were many of my classmates.

Date: 2011-09-12 07:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ha! I've had clients try to "persuade" my godless self before but after the time I gave them a lecture on the sociopolitical factors, from ancient Rome to the advent of Protestantism, involved in the evolution of the Bible they never tried again. Yeah, I'm a bit of a history of religion buff and the bible bashers don't like it when you know more than they do, especially about stuff that casts doubt on the veracity of their "one true word."

Date: 2011-09-12 09:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The history of the Bible is so important to our culture that it's really good to have at least a basic understanding of it. Also tells you a lot about Christianity and it's origins that I guess a lot of Christians would find hard.

Date: 2011-09-12 09:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The thing that really irritates me is that people who talk a lot about the religion they belong to and then go directly against its teachings whenever it suits them. Most extremists seem to fall into that often- the American religious rights and the Wahabists ( basically the same thing, a fascist religious doctrine founded in part on hatred of women ) seem particularly prone.

Date: 2011-09-12 07:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Agreed 100%

Here is my favorite quote. ;)

"Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics: You are all stardust. You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded, because the elements - the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution and for life - weren’t created at the beginning of time. They were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars, and the only way for them to get into your body is if those stars were kind enough to explode. So, forget Jesus. The stars died so that you could be here today.”
— Lawrence M. Krauss

I love listening to him talk. <3

Date: 2011-09-12 09:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
:3 I went from being very Christian to very Atheist. I want to be agnostic - who am I to say there's no god? But I just can't believe there really is one. I remember when I believed in God, I was very happy - I had my security blanket, I had nothing to fear, I was never lonely. But children who believe in Santa Clause are also very happy. And I can't help but think that God is nothing more than Santa Clause - a joyful placebo for the soul.

I stopped believing because homophobic Christians were a contradiction to what I was taught, that Christianity was about kindness. I started questioning how you could hate someone in the name of god who tells you to love everyone, and ended up going from "is being gay really wrong?" to "does god exist?" By the time I was done, I didn't believe in anything anymore.

That aside, my parents, especially my mother, are a beautiful example of the religious. My mother is truly kind to everyone, even people she's frustrated with or dislikes or who've hurt her, she always turns the other cheek because that is her belief. My parents and many other Christians are very generous when it comes to charity, not only giving money but often time - they fed the homeless for over a decade (until the program had too many problems) amongst other things.

You could say that, human beings are generally kind, but can always be exceedingly cruel. There are many atheist or non-religious groups (e.g. USSR) that discriminate in the name of atheism, and as mutive said, a lot of genocide had more to do with ethnic groups (whether skin color or cultural difference or the combination of the two). My current belief is that people need to mix - like in Los Angeles, where I live/work, I think the diversity helps people learn and grow.

Do you read One Piece? In the current arc, they talk about discrimination between humans and fishmen. And what the good characters say is, "we are afraid of them because we don't know anything about them."

But that aside, religious fanaticism - the fantastical belief in a golden heaven full of virgins or what not, IS what caused 9/11. Even if the underlining cause was jealousy or some other describable agenda, for people to commit suicide in the name of god, they have to be promised some posthumous reward.

Mmmm I guess my overall feeling is, religion can have it's good points and it's bad, but whether or not we're religious, the same things will happen unless we become less ignorant of each other.

My personal belief is that the internet will save the world.

/rambling ^^;

Date: 2011-09-12 09:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm atheist instead of agnostic because if I had grown up deep in the rain forest and no one in my community had ever heard of religion we would, by nature, be atheists.

The whole thing is man made and I refuse to be unsure that there is a god. There is an explanation, but religion has nothing to do with it.

Date: 2011-09-13 02:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Just to show the other side of the coin:
"Religion is unnecessary. It's been proven that people innately know right from wrong"
There have also been studies that show that religious people are happier than people who don't believe in anything.

I agree that religious people have done some horrible things, but my point is that it's the people, not the religion itself. For some people, religion makes their lives fulfilling and gives them a purpose-and that makes them do good deeds, be good people, etc.

Just wanted to be devil's advocate for a second. Now for my own viewpoint, I don't know if there's a god (I lean towards no due to lack of proof) and honestly, I don't care. I know that a lot of the traditions I follow don't make any sense, but I follow them because it gives me a sense of identity. Judaism is part of the culture I grew up with. I love kugel. I think Passover is great because a week without grains makes me appreciate what I have. It also gives us an excuse to do a spring cleaning. While I'm going through cans of food looking for wheat or corn ingredients, I also check expiration dates. I guess my point is that I choose to follow the traditions that I think make sense, as well as some that don't because they give me an identity. I'm fully aware that pork is safe to eat these days (or I will be once yesterday's lecture on trichostrongyles fades a bit :P) but with it, I feel like I'm part of a Jewish family. I have a community to turn to should I ever really need them.

I also like that Judaism doesn't proselytize, and maybe I'd feel differently if I were raised in a religion that does do so. But luckily I don't have to worry about the what-ifs.

Date: 2011-09-13 04:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Religious teaching are good. They're meant to do good. To me, It's just the people. Human beings are capable to do anything, good or bad. And they will take or interpret anything as justification, including religion.
My father is a priest/pastor, from a Presbyterian Church. I never felt like religion was forced on me, it was more like a condition I was born into. It's like natural thing for me to believe in one God/Jesus. I still am. The thing is, I've been living in a Church community like all my life. In fact, I'm working in a Christian university now. And I see no difference between a Christian organization than any other organization. They are still an organization of people/human. There's still politics and dirty politics, power struggle, backstabbing, bullying and stuffs. But the way I feel and experience it, if I look only at that and the examples that the people around me are showing, I would've lost my faith long time ago. Deep inside my heart I always felt that there's something better than this, that will come. That through all of this human weaknesses, God will make us work it out, in His own way and His own time. Most of the time they do, and other time I have to wait longer.
Anyway, that's just me. We all have different journey, I guess.

Date: 2011-09-16 01:13 am (UTC)
ext_186597: by meganbmoore @ LJ (mephisto pheles)
From: [identity profile]
I grew up Catholic in a very Catholic family. I never complained growing up but always felt I was being force fed something. Looking back, I just didn't know any different.

I went to an all girls Catholic school K-12, it was co-ed until 6th grade, then girls only. Yes, I did get a great education, but I have bad memories of the school director, a Monsignor who would preach for an hour about the ills of society and how horrible Santa and Halloween were and how terrible dancing with boys was. Oh and he constantly made political comments. as do the previous and current "leaders" of the Catholic Church in Puerto Rico, but that's for another time.

When I went to college, I couldn't wait to go far away and leave all that behind. I still went to Mass in uni, but I think more out of habit than out of faith. The more exposed I got to others, the more I realized that what I knew growing up wasn't infallible. My mom is very religious. So was my grandmother. My grandfather is way too much. One of my aunts is so religious that she's part of a Catholic group called Neocathechumenal Way which is so fanatical about Catholicism that it scares me.

After graduating college, I moved in with her to NJ/NY and was there for a few years. To not be rude, I went to her services a couple of times. A big mistake.

My aunt has icons and rosaries everywhere in her apt. I always felt as if they were all staring at me. I still do. I started to avoid having to even be asked to go so I wouldn't be rude. After a while, I no longer cared and I started telling her I didn't want to go. I probably offended her at the time, but even though I noticed she didn't approve, she stopped asking me after some time.

Needless to say that when I moved to Miami I was happy to be away from that. Our family's apt in Miami is on the same block as a Catholic church (which makes my mother very happy) but I never went. In fact, my already doubting self completely got convinced of the utter hypocrisy of many who claim to be faithful and all-around good Christians (esp Catholics) when I honked at this lady getting out of the husband's car at the corner and asked them to move up a bit because my ass was out in the middle of the intersection and was about to get hit by on-coming cars. Instead of apologizing or actually moving the car just a couple of feet down, she gets her kid, yells at me "I hope you die!" and proceeds to walk into the church for Sunday Mass. Before you ask, yes I did hear clearly. It was a nice day out so my car windows were down and I don't blast my music. I will never, ever forget that.

That clinched it for me. Now, not only do I never set foot in a church, I cringe at the thought of having to go to a Mass anywhere. It was a real issue for me to go to my cousins' weddings. They both had the whole church wedding thing.

One thing, I was very happy in Japan when it came to religion (and many other things, which is why I totally regret coming back). I felt nobody pressured you into anything or questioned you about why I don't do it. The shrines and temples were a kind of sanctuary for me. I found them very peaceful. No, I didn't convert to Shinto or Buddhism, but I think the fact that those two religions, don't really force you or make you feel forced into believing is great. They are there and if you want to welcome them, then fantastic. If not, they leave you be.

Oh, there's more to say about my aunt and the trip I just went on with her because it does have to do with religion, but I'll leave that for you to read on my journal when I do post it. I'm still sorting through 1000+ photos. LMAO

Anyway, I guess the whole point to my comment was that I agree that in most cases religion (esp in its organized form)does bring distrust, intolerance, wars (Crusades, anyone?) and just problems overall. I choose to go with the "do what you want, but don't snide me because I don't want to follow your rules and don't force it down my throat" part. Respect my decisions and I'll respect yours. Break that and all bets are off.

Sorry, I couldn't seem to keep it short.


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