For the love of god

Over the past week I’ve found my self in the middle of three different religious debates, so I thought I would stray off the running path for a minute and talk God. I think a lot of people misunderstand me and my views on religion. Let me be clear in saying that I am not against religion in any way. Personally, I do not subscribe to Christianity or actually any particular religion. I think my friend Stefan Rambousek put it best when he said, “Art is my religion and it doesn’t cause wars”. I’m certainly not blaming religion for all the bad things that have transpired in history, but you can’t deny that nearly every major conflict that has been fought has been largely over religious reasons. I don’t want to sound like I’m vilifying religion. It has certainly been the cause of a great number of positive events in history as well.

As far as my own beliefs go, I simply say that I don’t know, and I think that’s the best answer that anyone could possibly give because it’s the truth. None of us know. There are dozens maybe hundreds of religions out there and I just can’t possibly come down on one side or the other. Out of all the available faiths, the notion that one of them is “the right one” just seems crazy to me.

I grew up in a Christian environment so I kind of had religion impressed upon me. I went to church every Sunday with my parents but I never really bought into it. My biggest problem with Christianity, and I guess really any other religion, is the fact that it’s members claim that they “know” that there is no other way, and they tend to try to force their belief onto everyone else, especially the extremists. It’s Jesus or the highway. First of all that’s a contradictory statement. Christianity as I have come to understand it is a “belief” as is any other religion. Followers have faith in “God”. Having faith, and belief is not the same as knowing, and that’s ok, but saying that you know seems wrong. How can one possibly claim that one religion is right and the rest are wrong. How do you know? Can you prove this? Christianity has no evidence to support it as being factual. Actually no religion does. You cannot possibly prove that God exists, which is why it’s called having FAITH! Yet many followers, particularly the extremists, claim other wise. Can someone explain this to me? Is it possible to have enough faith that you reach a point where you “know”?

Every follower of every religion believes in their faith just as strongly as the next person. On what authority could you possibly say to someone, “you’re wrong”. That’s really my biggest hang up. How can someone be wrong with out any evidence or proof to the back that statement up. That would be like sentencing a man to life in prison without a trial because someone thinks he’s guilty. That’s not how it works. If you’re going to start throwing out accusations, you need to be able to back them up.

Another thing that kills me about Christianity are the scare tactics. The general school of thought seems to be that I am a sinner, and need saving or I’m going to be nice and toasty for all of eternity. I see church reader boards everywhere with statements like “God is coming, are you ready?” “Jesus died for you, what are you doing for him?” “God has a judgment day”. I don’t think I should have to be scared into a belief. Any religion that has to resort to those kinds of measures to acquire members isn’t going to acquire me. Now I know I’m kind of generalizing and I understand that not every church and denomination is like this, but it does exist.

And besides, I don’t think god had some of the best ideas. If you go by his word, (the bible) than a union between two people of the same sex is a sin. There was also a time when God though it was a good idea to stone a woman to death if she married her husband and wasn’t a virgin. Yes I know that’s the old testament and there was a do over with the New Testament but it’s still his word, he said it. That bewilders me. Supposedly he is an all-knowing, and all-powerful being. Shouldn’t he have seen that coming?

I’m poking fun here a bit, but the fanatics really do frighten me. I’m speaking of the people who believe that a man could live inside a fish for three days, and that a long bearded hippie and his family gathered ever creature, actually two of every creature, onto a boat, and that our entire planet and was created in seven days. Strike that. It was actually it was six days. God took a much-needed vacation on the seventh. At the same time, these people tend to dismiss other religions like Scientology for example. The practices and beliefs of Scientology may seem absurd, but is it really any more ridiculous than a talking snake, or a man living inside of a fish?

Again I say, I am not against religion. If it gets you through your day and you draw strength and comfort from it and it’s helping you to lead a positive life, I’m all for it. What I don’t like is when people throw it in your face and condemn, even silently, non believers. I also don’t like it when religion is used as more of a crutch than a strength. I think people like to think that they are not in control of their own lives, and that God has everything laid out for them. Maybe that’s a comforting thought. The phrase I hate more than anything is “Let go and let God”. To me that says relinquish control of your life and let “God” take the wheel. I believe that you make your own decisions, your life is not pre destined. As John Connor said “There is no fate but what we make”.

I’m interested in hearing your feed back on any of this. I’m sure this post will offend some, but’s it really not meant to. I just tried to put my thoughts out there as objectively as possible, though I know my own opinions found their way into this post. Anyhow, if you’ve got thoughts or opinions I’d love to hear them.

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~ by glennikin on October 27, 2009.

8 Responses to “For the love of god”

  1. amen brother!

    if your religion helps you, great. just don’t try force it upon me or make it a law.

  2. I agree 100% with everything you said!!

  3. Hey, Glenn! I appreciate this post, and I respect you knowing what you believe and why. I’d love to throw my opinions on the table too, but unfortunately have little time to write. So take this as an open invitation to talk about this whenever we next meet. We disagree on some of these points, but when there are right/wrong positions, the best way to test convictions are in discussion with someone who disagrees…one of us may change for the better.

  4. Interesting. I consider myself Christian, but I’m no zealot. In fact it’s become something of a private issue to me, because, like you, I resent being told that any one set of beliefs is true above all others. My faith is between me and my creator and nobody can really define that relationship but myself. And my creator’s nature is unknowable even to me.

    Bizarrely, I don’t necessarily subscribe to many Christian beliefs. Certainly not the ones that seem to originate from hate-filled doctrine or assure non-believers of eternal damnation. Folks who engage in the above are missing the point.

    Christianity is simply the tradition I was raised in. I’ve come to see the most important aspect of it is to maintain faith in *something*. As such, I don’t denigrate other religions, but actually equate them. In the simplest terms, it’s most often just a mark of where you come from. By identifying with a certain religion, it can enhance your common bond with people around you, especially family who are likely to belong to the same faith. I myself don’t particularly observe many of the rituals associated with any faith, but can appreciate the strength they give people in their everyday lives.

    Erm. Fuck yes!

  5. Hi Glenn,
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. As your mother, I am confident you know my position. Perhaps you need to study the Bible and not just read it. Yes the Bible has versus about homosexuality, however, no where does it condemn it in my interpretation. The United Church of Christ (the church you were raised in) does not condemn it and permits ministers to marry the same sex providing their state finds it to be legal. The best way I can state what I want to say is by discussing the spare the rod and spoil the child quote in the Bible. Many believe that this means parents need to use corporal punishment. However, when you study the bible and not just read it, you realize the rod was referring to the Sheppard’s rod. A Sheppard did not hit their sheep with their rods. They used them to prod and guide their sheep. So this Bible quote means spare the guidance and spoil the child. I respectfully think you are misinterpreting much of what is said from what I read in your blog. I also disagree that God cannot be proven. History and artifacts can prove many events of the Bible to be true. Oh, by the way, a day during Creation time referred to thousands of years. Thanks for offering me an opportunity to also share my thoughts. Love Mom

  6. I didn’t read the whole excerpt but I did see the stoning part. It’s really unlikely that a woman was stoned to death for not being a virgin when she was married. Stonings were even more rare than the death penalty today.

    ‘“First of all, you didn’t just heave stones,” says Yossi. “The idea was to minimize the suffering. What we call ‘stoning’ was actually pushing the person off the cliff so they would die immediately upon impact. The Talmud actually has specifications on how high the cliff must be. Also, the person getting executed was given strong drink to dull the pain.”

    Plus, the stonings were a rare thing. Some rabbis say executions only occurred once every seven years, others say even less often. There had to be two witnesses to the crime. And the adulterer had to be tried by a council of 70 elders. And weirdly, the verdict of those 70 elders could not be unanimous– that might be a sign of corruption or brainwashing. And so on. ”

    – AJ Jacobs quoting Rabbi Yossi Vardi

    So I know this doesn’t apply to most of your writing but I’m not big into religion either. I just think it’s important not to think of ancient christians going around killing people over the Hebrew Scripture because it didn’t happen all that often.

    This really is just an example to show how the original intent has gotten lost over the centuries. The biggest reason for this is that the original books of the bible were written in a language that can’t even be translated to English (Koine Greek, or common Greek). There are too many words and phrases that the english language doesn’t have the equivalent words to match. After Koine Greek got translated to Syriac, Ge’ez, Coptic, and Vetus Latin, things were added in and taken away (Mostly because Monks were copying by hand, minor mistakes were made). However, some significant changes were made as well–> most women’s names were taken out of the bible (even though they contributed significant funds to Jesus and his disciples), the part about the easter resurrection was added in (definitely wasn’t in the original books), etc. With the minor errors & the major ones, there are actually more mistakes in the bible than there are total WORDS in the bible.

    The point I’m making is, even though I am not religious myself, the important part of reading the current bible is to know that we should just be good people and care about each other and help each other. This is the point of almost all religions. So, anyone throwing anything in your face is just ignorant because they probably don’t know what they’re talking about, and they’re definitely not following the original intent.

    <3,
    Olivia

  7. Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you do. Nothing to kill or die for and no religion, too.

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