Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Editorial- Religion- Whats your take...?

Well this is a post that definately got me talking in my office... check out Dr. Rock.... (props Dr. Rock)

First, let me say that I grew up in a very religious family full of Baptists. I went to church regularly, spent a moment on the choir of Gospel Tabernacle Church on Walbrook Avenue, and worshipped my grandmother who was a lifelong member. It was not unusual for our home to be filled with gospel music on any day, especially when the extended family was around, although usually it was after a night of hard drinking.

As I grew older, I began to question some of the things that I read in the Bible, and some of the things that I had been taught to believe
For instance:

1. Why, given all of the miracles that are touted in the Bible, are no miracles happeninng today, if they happened in the past? Why is no one walking on water, parting a major sea, etc?

2. Why are there so many religions? Everybody can't be right. Not to mention people are willing to kill other people and fight wars over religious beliefs.

3. I'm no expert on any particular religion, but why do most talk about love and the greater good, but then hate, mistrust, and wars develop over religious beliefs? How could the Ku Klux Klan be a christian organization?

4. Why is it that we refer to the beliefs of ancient Greeks, and Norse people as myths? These people believed that there were multiple gods, i.e. god of fire, god of love, etc. It occured to me that one day our beliefs, i.e. in Jesus Christ being the son of God, and there being a supreme being will be referred to as myths. After all, the Greeks certainly believed in their gods.

5. I started asking myself, why do we believe in any God, and in any religion? The theory that I came up with is that man is weak and has an inherent fear of what he doesn't understand. That coupled with a strong desire to explain things that he doesn't understand led to religion. I can visualize some primitive man seeing lightning strike a tree and starting a fire. It probably scared him to death, and he explained it by the fact that some greater power was responsible for it.

6. It was easy to see the hypocrisy of the churches that I attended growing up. All of the actors falling out into the isles, raising their hands, shouting, and basically making fools of themselves. There were the preachers who were the worst actors, screaming and hollering, pounding the podium. What made me laugh the most was the passing of the plate. I contributed as a child, but I wondered where that money went. Was God broke? Why did the plate come by two and sometimes three times? Did it cost money to believe in God and to worship him?
I later came to realize that it cost money for the pastor to drive his Mercedes Benz, but also to sponsor some of the good things that the church did, i.e. youth programs, etc.

7. I may be wrong, but I used to believe that, priests, pastors, preachers etc had some connection to God that the rest of us didn't have. I couldn't get up to the pulpit, pick a verse, and tell you exactly what God meant by it. The pastor was teaching me, I wasn't teaching him, and neither were any of the other parishoners.
If my assumption was right, why did all of these men of God with this connection to God feel the need to make connections with little boys? Was that all right with God?. Why would $600 million dollars make it go away? Did God say that money would make things even? More hypocrisy

8. If the Bible is the word of God, why do the rules change? At one time women couldn't be pastors in the catholic church and homosexuality was an abomination. Why is it more acceptible now? Did God change his mind? Did he put out a new book? Where is it, Borders Bookstore?

9. If God is so good and all powerful, and I've heard people give him credit for all types of good things, especially when a patient who is doing poorly, suddenly improves, why does he let bad things happen? People often say "God is good" when something good happens, but what about when Susan Smith pushed a car into a lake with her two childern strapped in and they drowned? Did those kids deserve that? If God exists, and is so powerful, how could he let that happen? A few years ago a few hispanic kids in the Park Heights area had their throats slashed. I asked the same question. Why would God let over 3000 people, many of whom I'm sure were good people and believers, perish in the World Trade Center tragedy? Why would he let 17 million people die from a flu epidemic? Surely, they all could not have been sinners and evil people. I could go on and on. I have yet to hear "God is bad". I have heard tragedies like this explained as "God has a plan". What plan? A plan to let disabled people drown during the Katrina tragedy? A plan to let people go hungry and die from disease in Chad and the Congo? There are more merciful ways to die, if God plans for people to die.

Once a family told me that God had a plan, and that a miracle was going to happen to heal their loved one, because I was just a man. They didn't buy my pessimistic prognosis for their loved one or the fact that it was my hands, not God's hands keeping him alive. I proposed undoing all of the machinery and medications that I was managing, and seeing if God was going to intervene. Needless to say, they weren't willing to gamble on God's hands.

I believe people have been taught, sometimes brainwashed into believing that some all powerful being exists, despite that fact that that there is no evidence to support this idea. We weren't born believing in God or Jesus, anymore than were are born believing in hating people of other races, or speaking a certain language. We are a blank slate when we are born, hence the reason that you can teach a child to believe in Jesus, Muhammed, Bhudda, or whomever you like. People have been taught these things from infancy, and so they believe it.

Despite my disbelief, disdain is probably too harsh of a word. I really have a hard time sitting through funerals, because I have to hear a sermon. I don't say grace before I eat, and I don't pray. Organized religion does have some benefits, I will admit. I know people on a personal level that would be sociopaths if not for their belief in God and their involvement in church. Many churches are sincere in their efforts to positively affect their communities, and give people a mechanism to play a role in that way. Those are all good things that organized religion brings to the table. Theres more, but those are the concepts that immediately come to mind.

I am a scientist by training. I need proof of things. To me the greatest proof is in repoducibility. I believe that everytime I cut my arm, I am going to bleed, and I can prove it because it is reproducible. I have yet to have any of my prayers answered.

I can't say with 100% certainty that my viewpoint is right, or that the Bible is a fictional story, or that God is a myth, but nobody else can say with 100% certainty that I am wrong. They might believe, but they can't prove it.

Let me end by saying that I do respect a person's desire to believe whatever they want as long as that belief doesn't hurt anyone else.

Dr Rock


Ernesto said...

This is a very interesting article. I grew up in a very religious family as well and I watched a documentary called zeitgiest (google it) and some of the religious conicedences (sp) it pointed out shook up some of my religious reservations. However I'm still reserching some of the information given in the movie, but if i find it to be true i'm not sure how I will feel about my religion. I'm almost afraid to find out that I have been bamboozled all my life. Ignorance is bliss sometimes, YA DIGG!!

Smurl said...

I can agree a bit with you... but there are things like faith .. the substance of things hoped for but not seen...thats