a religion for everyone

Why is it that many people who are religious feel compelled, no, instructed to share their faith with everyone, but recoil if someone suggests that he or she does not agree with them, or, horror of horrors, doesn’t believe in “religion” at all?

Out-of-the-closet atheists are often treated as if they are, inherently, evil. As if saying you don’t believe in a god is saying that you molest children for fun or sacrifice virgins or puppies in the forest around raging bonfires on Saturday nights.

Is it really so impossible to believe that humanity would do good, or right, because it is the right thing to do, without the impetus of fear-of-eternal-damnation?

I often wonder if the people focused on their salvation, their redemption, in the next life are not, in fact, missing the point. So many relationships with the people here on earth sacrificed, in the name of “standing up for what [I] believe in” or, even worse, for “The Truth,” as if they know, with absolute certainty, what that is.

How can it be wrong to find wisdom and beauty and joy and morality and justice and love from works of Shakespeare, and Dostoyevsky, and Merwin, and Robert Frost, rather than from a book cobbled together over centuries by men with differing agendas?

And don’t we all see that if we argue morality through the lens of religion we’ll never agree?

A couple of clips to watch. You might not agree with everything said, but at least give it some thought.

(thank you treacle talks)

(the interview starts around minute 4)


8 Responses to “a religion for everyone”

  1. February 12, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    I’m with you. And I am religious — I’m Buddhist. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama has made much of the secular nature of morality and ethics. He does not believe one needs to be religious in order to be moral or compassionate. For just one example of his many, many comments on this: “Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn’t anyone who doesn’t appreciate kindness and compassion.” from “Kindness, Clarity, and Insight”


  2. February 12, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    Thanks for that.
    I am always careful to draw a distinction too between FAITH (a belief in something unprovable) and RELIGION (a set of rules on how to go about that, to do it “properly”). It’s the RELIGION that causes wars, not the faith…

    • February 16, 2012 at 10:35 am

      I agree. Except way too often faith “causes” religion. I wonder sometimes if we’d all be better off with “believing in” things that can be proved — science, art, justice/fairness, the golden rule. If we all recognized that what was good for each of us is actually what’s good for all of us. . .probably too much to ask.

  3. 4 Miss Bessy
    February 21, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    As an atheist are you treated as if you are, inherently, evil? Do people treat you like you are someone who molests children for fun or sacrifice virgins or puppies in the forest around raging bonfires on Saturday nights?

    As a Christian I treat my atheist friends with love and respect although we disagree about God. They have never mentioned being treated as evil by others. If you are treated badly by others then they don’t understand the importance of “Love thy neighbor”. I want you to know that I do not see you as evil and I fully believe at some point you too will find God even if it is after this life ends.

    In my opinion it is better to not know God then knowing God and turning away from him. If it is something you cannot even see, you cannot be evil. It’s like saying you’re a bad driver when you didn’t or can’t see the do not enter sign. At some point when you see it, you will know the right path.

    • 5 guardo
      February 21, 2012 at 10:20 pm

      Bessy. Do you know what sanctimonious means? How about condescending?

      If you want to see life through the haze of religion, well and good. The problem for me is that you won’t be happy until I do, too. You talk to me like I’m a three-year-old with your “right path” nonsense.

      I may find god, I suppose. I may also find Mickey or Goofy or the Easter Bunny. But more than likely I’ll stick with evidence and reality and taking responsibility for myself.

      I know you mean no harm; the pietistic tone is part of the belief system.

      Neither do I.

    • February 22, 2012 at 11:43 am

      Your implications re: someone turning away from god, and your reassurances that I will know the “right” path (rather than, presumably, the wrong one on which I currently find myself) are exactly what I’m talking about.

      Also, I don’t believe I ever said I was an atheist.

      Interesting. . .

      • 7 Miss Bessy
        February 22, 2012 at 12:40 pm

        If you say on this blog on January 17th, 2012 that “…I don’t really have any faith to speak of. The whole idea of “God” doesn’t resonate with me, much less make any kind of logical sense.” Then I assume you are either an atheist or someone who can’t make an honest assessment of herself. Or at the best someone is skirting the issue for a reason unknown to me.

        • February 22, 2012 at 1:13 pm

          I guess you’re paying more attention to me than I am.

          And perhaps my current skirting of the issue is what the point of the “a religion for everyone” blog post is actually about.

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