Hello, my friends.
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice that I tend to speak on general topics, but rarely do I become confrontational. Well, this week will be more confrontational. I’ll start by saying that I don’t judge people solely on what they believe. If I judge someone, it’s based on their words and their actions. What you say and what you do need to be as close a match as possible. Otherwise, there is an intellectual disparity.
For example, if I told you I was a vegetarian, and then was frequently found in restaurants, eating steak, or chicken, then what I’ve told you and what I’m actually doing don’t really match up very well, now does it? Still, does that mean I’m not a vegetarian? Well, yes, it does. If what I say I’m doing, and what I’m actually doing, don’t match up, then what I’m saying is of no importance, because it doesn’t have the action to back it up.
Good intentions only go so far, before they have to be weighed against action. It is true that some labels are subjective. When one says, “I am a good person,” the term ‘good’ can be very flexible. Perhaps when someone calls themselves good, they mean they’ve never held up a bank, or tripped a blind man standing on a street corner.
We like to consider ourselves good people. Of course, if nearly every person considers themself to be a good person, then there must be some greater moral standard by which we live?
Most religions, at least the major ones, like to profess a strong, unbreakable, moral code. One that has been handed down by some great god or goddess, and made the law of the land for all moral man to follow with fear and respect, and that to stray from these Holy laws is to invite immorality, evil, and darkness, and that such evil and darkness will run rampant and destroy all humankind.
The largest religions also lay claim that they are the only solution to this now rampant crisis of immorality, evil, and darkness. Each one spells out a path of salvation to achieve eternal grace and love. Each one claims that they are the penultimate expression of love, and mercy. Each one has their own definitions of justice, their own rituals. Their histories are often filled with violence against those who do not believe as they do, or even those who believe as they do, but just a little bit differently.
So which one is the right one? All of these wars, all of this parading around as the ultimate solution to all things evil and wicked, touting their god or gods as the supreme power across and beyond the universe. Who has it right?
Well, to be honest, no one knows, and neither do those who practice their respective religions. Oh, they’ll tell you they have faith, and blessed assurance, and the bedrock foundations of their holy books, but do they really know? No. They believe. They have faith, but they do not know, no matter how ardently they claim that they do, and the reason is because any person who knows, isn’t a believer. They’re not a person of faith, they’re a person of supposition; one that has no solid evidence upon which to be based.
By sticking to faith, they avoid that crucial step of evidence required and not delivered. Many practitioners of various religions will cite emotional pleas, and will make assertions based on claims that are correlative, but not causative. That just means they base their evidence on what they perceive as evidence, rather than what can be shown objectively as proof.
Am I giving religion a hard time? Yes, but it’s not because I have some kind of vendetta against religion. I believe a person should be free to practice and believe whatever they wish, as long as it does not harm others, or curtail another person’s rights. I give religion a hard time because so many of them claim to be not only the sole way to salvation, and whatever that entails, but that you have to be a part of it, and if you’re not, then you deserve whatever punishment is coming to you by fiery fiat of their holy gods or goddesses.
I’ll take a moment to add that such requirements are not inherent in all religions, but the ones that shape so much of human history do require these things. They require confession, then submission, then acceptance of a higher order, and then sacrifice as part of their witness. If kept as an internal matter, and as long as those within are not harmed, such is their right. When that same idea is pushed upon others who do not practice that religion, and it causes harm, well that’s another matter entirely.
If you are a practitioner of faith; if you are part of a religion, I congratulate you on finding the answers to which you were seeking. I wish you all the best in that regard. If, however, you use your religion of peace, love, mercy, and justice as a battering ram, as a bludgeon against those who do not practice, or do not believe, then you are hypocrites; you are the very people to whom I’m referring when I speak of saying pretty words, and living through terrible actions.
Few people consider themselves on the side of evil. We would all like to think we’re good on some level; so it’s a lot more difficult to realize that even with good intentions, you can be causing harm to those who do not believe as you do, if you try to pressure or force them to follow the truth that works for you.
I’m sorry, but that truth that works for you may not work for them, even if you consider that truth to be universal. Respect is a two way street. If you wish to be treated with respect, then respect those who do not believe as you do, and do not wish to believe as you do. Let them live their lives in love, peace, mercy, and justice.
That is why there will never be a definitive answer to “which religion is the right one,” because from each perspective, each religion is right, and each religion is wrong. The man who believes Mohammed as the Last Prophet is just as right and just as wrong as the woman who believes that Jesus Christ is her Lord and Savior. You both believe, you both know it in your hearts to be true, and you both know that the other is sadly misguided, and would know the truth if only they would listen and follow the Word that has been laid out at their feet.
Religion is wholly subjective, because all of it relies on faith; on the belief that what is unseen is most precious, and no evidence to the contrary is enough to shake that faith.
All I ask, as a secular humanist, is that everyone gets the right to believe what they wish, so long as they harm no one else, and as long as all are free to practice as such within those boundaries. I do not consider that at all extreme, or unreasonable. Personal faith is personal, anyway. What’s with the need to broadcast it from every mountain top? I believe it would be wise for all people, regardless of belief, to also practice compassion, kindness, respect, and humility. Let us save the arguments for more important matters. Personal faith should not be one of them.
So I’ll close with this: Instead of arguing amongst ourselves, let’s address the plight of our starving humanity; our sick and impoverished fellow human beings. Let us show them that love and compassion need not come from a holy book, or unseen deity, but rather can come from the human heart, and human hands. Is that too much to ask? I don’t think it is.
With love, peace, and a wish for all people to care for one another.
Until next time,