An open letter…
I am at a metaphorical and metaphysical crossroad in my life. I am willing to admit that I am having issues believing that you are real. I do not know a better way to say this. I am not in the habit of speaking ill of believers or supporting non-believers. I, being a solitary person, need something to make me believe or at least nudge me toward the conclusion that there are powers greater than human love and human hate- yet, WHAT that could be, i admit i don’t know. I see beauty in life, in my children, in other people, and in myriad aspects of the world and its people. Is that you or just how it is? However, I also see what else exists in this world that is still in the per view of your domain that is not good or beautiful. Is that you too or just how it is? Do you not intervene in the world? Text suggests you did in the past. Why not now? Do you now simply let people … do what people do? Is it because people are a constant source of disappointment to you and you have simply stopped?
On a similar topic, Are you moral and good or are you ambivalent and lassier faire when it comes to this corporeal domain? There seem to be many of us that speak in your name. Who is right? Who is wrong? Does it matter? I am sure you have heard “all roads lead to Rome.” Is a similar phrase true for religion? Do “all religions lead to god?” Does religion in its most dogmatic definition really matter to you? Does stained glass and recitation of specific text bring someone to a closer understanding of what is really going on here on earth better than praying 3 times a day? Does any of that really matter to you? What are we supposed to be doing? Are we supposed to be doing anything at all?
Are we here to simply BE here. Is that it? For the record, I am OK if that is it. I would just like to know- completely know. I admit, I am asking for the keys to the kingdom while insisting on to the right to cast it aside if I don’t like it. I am not special, nor do I warrant any special attention. Nor do I not expect any special attention to my plea. I know many people have asked for a sign to bolster or give validity to their faith. I freely admit that am unsure that if I were to ask for a sign I wouldn’t know who to ask for that sign. Is the religion of my area the right one? Are you a white-bearded Caucasian, who came back to earth approximately 2000 years ago as a brown haired, blue eyed man or are you a elephant headed being that millions of kids in India love and pray to? I ask because images of you portray you as both of these and many more. Some say we were made in your image. So, is the image of the man in robes a closer representation of you or is the image of a man in robes what we humans want to god to be? If the latter is true it seems pretty vain on our part. On the surface that seems a trivial point, but to me, it matters.
I realize that you may or may not already know this was going to be written and may have answered me and I was too dense to see that answer. I admit that is a distinct possibility. Never the less, I just thought I would ask.
P.S. If you aren’t god (or God) please feel free to respond.
The Death of Religion and one Dumb-Ass Commet
Organized religion will go the way of the dinosaurs in nine Western democracies, reports CNN. “Religion will be driven toward extinction” in Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the Netherlands, researchers conclude in a new paper. It will also fade in Austria, the Czech Republic, Finland, and Switzerland, they predict. “If you look at the data, ‘unaffiliated’ is the fastest-growing group,” said the paper’s lead author. The U.S. could not be included in the study, because unlike the other countries, census data on religion was not available. The study began with two sociological assumptions. First, people want to be part of the majority rather than the minority, making it increasingly desirable to avoid church rather than to attend. “Just a few connections to people who are [religiously] unaffiliated is enough to drive the effect,” said the lead author. Also, there are social, economic, and political benefits to not being religious in these countries. “The utility of being unaffiliated seems to be higher than affiliated in Western democracies,” he said. Despite the lack of U.S. data, other studies suggest people who identify as “unaffiliated” are the fastest-growing belief group in the United States.
Abrams and his co-authors are not passing any judgment on religion, he’s quick to say – they’re just modeling a prediction based on trends. “We’re not trying to make any commentary about religion or whether people should be religious or not,” he said. “I became interested in this because I saw survey data results for the U.S. and was surprised by how large the unaffiliated group was,” he said, referring to a number of studies done by universities and think tanks on trends in religion.
Studies suggest that “unaffiliated” is the fastest-growing religious group in the United States, with about 15% of the population falling into a category experts call the “nones.” They’re not necessarily atheists or non-believers, experts say, just people who do not associate themselves with a particular religion or house of worship at the time of the survey. Abrams had done an earlier study looking into the extinction of languages spoken by small numbers of people.
When he saw the religion data, his co-author “Richard Wiener suggested we try to apply a similar technique to religious affiliation,” Abrams said. The paper, by Abrams, Wiener and Haley A. Yaple, is called “A mathematical model of social group competition with application to the growth of religious non-affiliation.” They presented it this week at the Dallas meeting of the American Physical Society. Only the Czech Republic already has a majority of people who are unaffiliated with religion, but the Netherlands, for example, will go from about 40% unaffiliated today to more than 70% by 2050, they expect. Even deeply Catholic Ireland will see religion die out, the model predicts.
“They’ve gone from 0.04% unaffiliated in 1961 to 4.2% in 2006, our most recent data point,” Abrams says. He admits that the increase in Muslim immigration to Europe may throw off the model, but he thinks the trend is robust enough to withstand some challenges. “Netherlands data goes back to 1860,” he pointed out. “Every single data that we were able to find shows that people are moving from the affiliated to unaffiliated. I can’t imagine that will change, but that’s personal opinion, not what the data shows.” But Barry Kosmin, a demographer of religion at Trinity College in Connecticut, is doubtful.
“Religion relies on human beings. They aren’t rational or predictable according to the laws of physics. Religious fervor waxes and wanes in unpredictable ways,” he said. “The Jewish tradition that says prophecy is for fools and children is probably wise,” he added. And Abrams, Wiener and Yaple are not the first to predict the end of religion. Peter Berger, a former president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, once said that, “People will become so bored with what religious groups have to offer that they will look elsewhere.” He said Protestantism “has reached the strange state of self-liquidation,” that Catholicism was in severe crisis, and anticipated that “religions are likely to survive in small enclaves and pockets” in the United States.
He made those predictions in February 1968
Read original story in CNN | Thursday, March 24, 2011
Here is the enlightened comment on the story on CNN’s website:
Francis Bacon “Free at last! free at last! thank scientific method, we are free at last!”!March 24, 2011 at 7:33 am | Report abuse | Reply
Ummm…Francis Bacon’s three goals were to uncover truth, to serve his country, and to serve his church. FACT CHECK I can not stand people who use someone’s name to bolster their cause without knowing if that person would have really backed the cause in the 1st place. Idiots.
Some light reading for Monday
“Religion” is a personal and largely subjective topic for any debate, even for rational people. The raw emotion that comes out is sometimes painful to experience first hand and very difficult watch when it comes from another person whose deep rooted emotions and beliefs are pressed and questioned-even in a non-judgmental manner.
We all have seen friendships tarnished as the result of some religious line of questioning. So, as you might imagine, I refrain from religious debates, discussions, or religious meetings with people I know as a general rule. I think it is better to leave religion to the faithful and, as long as their religion does not interfere with my family or me, live and let live.
That being said, I completely believe that everyone is entitled to their own beliefs-EVEN if I completely disagree or can’t possible understand that belief. I also think that it is your responsibility to validate your OWN opinion regarding your chosen religion by looking at the history, foundations, and tenants of your chosen religion and evaluating those criteria versus your emotional attachment to that religion.
As I typed that last sentence, I realized that if every single person of every religion actually did that, the religions would change almost overnight. If every person really sat down and looked at what their church, denomination, synagogue, strip mall Christian life center, mega church really stood for, donated money to, campaigned for, socially supported, and politically backed I think many sets of eyes would be opened.
Growing up I was reared in a southern baptist church. It was small and traditionally styled. I remember my family in uncomfortable pews, old gospel hymns, mini-saltine crackers, and grape juice in shot glasses for communion on special occasions. Those things make me smile when I remember them. However, There was something else there every Sunday morning. A reminder that if I did not walk the walk and talk the talk like a good Christian should – I was going to Hell. It was made clear to me that this was not a debatable issue. In my young sponge like brain I KNEW that the man quasi-yelling at me in a fervent tone truly believed that I was a damned soul- If I didn’t change my 5 year old ways.
I admit that back then I was too young to understand his point or motivation for scaring people or what was really going on but, I did know some very definite, real things in those early days. Some were:
1) I had the chance to go to Hell or Heaven and God will judge me when I die.
2) If I, a 5 year old, didn’t change my ways, Hell awaited.
3) This man is scaring me.
4) What this man is saying MUST be true because my grandmother, grandfather, parents, aunts, cousins and 50 other people are nodding their heads in agreement with everything this man says.
From early on, I was being shown, by those that feed me and care for me, that what was going on in this church is “right” and “the way it is” because the loud scary man is telling the truth. As I have aged, I believe exposure to different things is vital to become truly intelligent and forming your OWN opinions. Sadly, the opposite is also true and an easier row to hoe. To avoid things because you don’t know anything about them, demonizing opposite schools of thought, or simply doing what you are told and following along limits your ability to grow as a person. I truly believe that. I once heard an intelligent, college educated man say, “I am a Republican because my dad was a Republican.” (NO POLITICAL COMMENT HERE) I think the same thinking goes for religion. Not researching YOUR own beliefs and weighing them against how you feel about the world around you is denying your ability to reason and preventing self determination and that, in my humble opinion, is a waste of a life.
I am not advocating going out and attempting to disprove every religion in the world. I am not saying that there is no truth in organized religion. I am not saying that there aren’t good people doing good work in the name of religions around the world. I am not claiming that religions are corrupt or misleading people.
I am saying that you, as an intelligent person, need to be open to all information and facts and constantly reevaluate your positions and beliefs on EVERYTHING, even religion. If you do not open yourself up to new information and different points of view you will become sedate and stagnant in your intellectual development in regard to whatever issue you choose to put your head in the sand about.
If you are a Christian, know why YOU are a Christian. If you are a Buddhist, know why YOU are a Buddhist. If you are Jewish, know why YOU are Jewish. If you are an atheist, know WHY you are an atheist. YOU are all that matters in the arena of your life. It is your responsibility to learn from those around you, take information from everywhere, research the writings of people you agree with and disagree with, but in the end decide for yourself what you believe and believe in.
It is truly the most important decision YOU can make for yourself.
False prophets are everywhere!
Does it seem to you that a lot people are speaking for God lately? Has there been some massive PR movement from Heaven to select vessels to distribute God’s message? Apparently, everyone around me has Jesus’ cell number and they text/talk a lot about what is going to happen or why something happened the way it did. There are Christian people telling me, and all of their “Friends” that the Apocalypse is at hand. No, I am not kidding… Read the rest of this entry
Venting: A Geographical Focus
I am not going to complain about the people here. I am not going to complain about the culture here. I am not going to complain about anything that I could potentially do anything about. I AM going to complain about how I am bombarded by things that I would hope most of this country is not subjected to. Here are some of the scenarios that aggravate me the most.