I was told today (on twitter)to go and read the Quran and not be afraid. I have also been told in the past to read the bible so that i can find/know god. I have read the bible, i read it all the time. I have an app on my phone with every available translation on it and i read it more than twice each week…But here’s the thing, I read it as fiction! My mindset is such that i’m not reading it as a guidebook or an operating manual because no one has ever told me to or shown me to. It’s just a collection of stories, most of which i find don’t sit well with me. I’m not the kind who takes well to being preached at. I like to find my own way. Taking a story from the bible and using it as some kind of moral guidance is all well and good, but not if you’re picking and choosing which bits of the book you like and dislike. Any one of those moral stories can be reflected in anyone who doesn’t subscribe to religion, otherwise we’d all be locked up for doing horrible things! Being good without god is relatively painless and easy!
If someone presents me with evidence that contradicts my current way of thinking, i research it! i go and read about it, or search the internet for it, or talk to friends about it to see if they have heard of it and, if it turns out it’s not bullshit then it gets slotted comfortably into my world view…..until it’s challenged again!
I love to have my views challenged! It doesnt scare me, it (usually) expands my knowledge or makes me go “OH! so i’ve been wrong for ages!”
Thinking about those who carry strict, blind faith *does* scare me though! The willful ignorance and rejection of fact over their beliefs is terrifying! The shocking cognitive dissonance is far scarier than being wrong about something.
Anyway, to the (vague) point, and it’s one i’m sure countless people have thought about before. Religion and culture. I live in the UK, and (before the census) lots of people were banging on about how it’s a Christian nation…well, whilst proving this isnt really the case these days, it does carry a heavy Church of England and Catholic trend in the 21st century still, this mainly down to them being older religions to have established in this country than say, Islam. Christianity arrived in the British Isles in sub-roman England in around AD 47 whereas (as an example) the first recorded Englishman to become a Muslim was John Nelson, who converted to Islam at some point in the 16th Century. Before this of course there were more earthy religions in this country such as paganism and of course subscribers to this way of life were persecuted by Christians as Christianity became more popular, but that’s not for this post (I’ve only added Wikipedia links because i’m pushed for time).
You could say, “if you were born here in a religious family, there’s a likelihood you will be christian”
In India, a higher likelihood of being Hindu. And muslim in those countries which *that* is the predominant religion.
Where you are born will more or less dictate which religion you might become. . .Czech Republic for example, if you’re born there you’re extremely lucky indeed, they have the highest non-religious population in the world!
Religion is a taught mechanism and the flavour you’re taught is reasonably dependant on the culture you are brought up i. It’s not innate. That is to say, it’s not something you just know from an early age, unless someone teaches it to you. If you’re one of those people who actively seeks it out, there’s no doubt it’s because it has been shown to you by something or someone else. It’s not something you just *want* to go an learn about, there’s always a reason.
Here’s where i’d like to ask anyone of faith who reads this, what was the thing that moved you to choose your faith? Was it something someone said to you? was it an attempt to find meaning in your life? did you seek people who knew about it so they could show you how to follow a faith? was it your parents? or your friends who lead your hand? Why did you choose faith?
.. now here’s where i make a bit of a jump…..>
(image thanks to Commander Chris Hadfield, ISS) [ps, i can't see heaven or hell in either of those pictures.......just sayin']
and ask “does it matter?”
What i mean is LOOK at the bloody place! If there was going to be a religion, i imagine that we’d all be the same one. If there was some kind of benevolent, omnipresent creator in charge of this beautiful place (not to mention the rest of the universe) we’d all know it as empirically, just as we know that the earth goes round the sun, birds have wings, dogs have four legs [generally] and that we use our lungs to breathe! none of us question those….actually, people DO question the earth/sun thing (thank you, Flat Earth people! << mad as a box of frogs!) but generally, as far as evidence goes, you’d think if there was someone in charge there wouldn’t be discrepancies between faiths or wars over promised lands.
There wouldn’t be any doubt at all in our minds, all 7 billion of us – but there is……. and that says a lot.