Just recently I had a conversation with someone (yes, you know who you are), who made an assumption about my beliefs. A person who should know better considering his former career, by the way, but I’ll let that pass for now and bug him about it later. It isn’t the first time, either, so I would have to say it’s possible that many people have the wrong impression regarding my beliefs. So, let me set the record straight for everyone who’s left confused. We’ll start with religion, and hit on destiny and fate later.
I do not like organized religion. That’s not a misconception. I wholeheartedly agree with that statement. We can get into the reasons for this opinion in a bit, but suffice it to say that it’s absolutely, unequivocally, unabashedly true. Now, here’s the debated portion. Not believing or liking organized religion does not preclude a belief in God or a spiritual being. Nor does it mean I don’t believe in things like fate and destiny. My views on a supreme being might be slightly different than those of the religiously indoctrinated, but I still believe in something. I’m probably what is called an agnostic theist, although I’m not entirely certain that fits either.
Agnostics come in variety packs, apparently. There are agnostic theists and agnostic atheists. The agnostic theist believes God can’t be proven, but they still believe in God. Agnostic atheists don’t believe a God exists, and also, of course, that God’s existence can’t be proven. I’m not particularly comfortable using the word God, simply because He’s been given a really bad reputation, or name if you will, by people doing things in the name of God.
This is where we get into my disgust of organized religion. No, I don’t feel disgust is too strong of a word. I think it suits my feelings quite well. To start with, if you get two people of exactly the same religion sitting in the same room, once you begin questioning them about their beliefs you’ll find that their answers differ from the person sitting beside them. Two Catholic priests will not think exactly the same about biblical interpretation, let alone two practitioners of the faith who are less educated in theological matters.
If you can’t get two priests to agree on their own religion, there is no way you can convince me that millions of people believe exactly the same thing. It’s not human, and it’s not possible. The whole point to organized religion is commonality of belief. Lack of commonality renders the organized religion moot. That’s just the first issue I have with it.
Second, lest you think I have a problem specifically with the Catholic religion, I’ll go on to other religions for examples. I take issue with any religion that denigrates or subjugates women. That encompasses a large portion of religions being practiced today, particularly in the middle east. When half the population of a country is being treated with malevolence and disrespect, based upon religious beliefs, that religion’s got to go. I don’t give a damn about your tradition and culture. If you’re killing women for your cause, you’re a murderer, not a pillar of your religious community.
Third, constant, rampant, blatant hypocrisy. Seven deadly sins ring a bell? They encompass all forms of Christianity, with only slight variations between the different types. How about gluttony? I bet you’ve seen a fat priest or preacher or minister. How about greed? Have you ever seen a cathedral, perhaps the Vatican or Sistine Chapel, Notre Dame?
Lust? Priests and little boys are ringing big bells with me there, but there are many upstanding Christians who like the horizontal mambo just fine. Wrath? What, nobody has killed anyone in the name of Christianity? Think pro-lifers who bomb abortion clinics. Talk about your hypocrisy.
Envy? Seriously, there are no envious Christians out there competing with their neighbours for the best cars, prettiest lawns, biggest pool? None? Sloth is easy. I don’t know that we ever see pictures of the Pope slaving away in the kitchen. Sure, he works hard…praying. Hmmm. Okay, that one’s debatable, admittedly, so I’ll use a different example. The fact is, everyone is guilty of sloth, myself included, but then I don’t pretend to be religious either.
Pride is huge. Everyone has their pride. If they don’t they’re miserable. Pride is a deadly sin, yet why do we use the expression, “Have some pride!” or “Take pride in your work.” Without pride in ourselves and what we do, we might as well shrug our shoulders and throw our work in the dustbin (garbage, for those unfamiliar with the mostly British term – rarely used in Canada but it seemed more appropriate). Lack of pride actually encourages sloth, along with at least a few of the other deadly sins.
Sure, pride could mean egotism, but I don’t think it does. If I’m not mistaken, the reason for it being a deadly sin is that we were supposed to lay our accomplishments at the feet of God, and not give ourselves any credit for the things we work hard for. Well, why the hell can’t pride be shared? If I’m proud of my daughter, that doesn’t preclude her being proud of herself, or vice versa.
Lust is necessary. God apparently told people to go forth and multiply. I don’t know what your experiences were like, but not much is going to happen there without a little lust involved. Shooting pool with a rope will not get the sperm in the corner pocket.
Wrath is necessary to an extent, too. We need to feel wrath in order to maintain justice and order. Sure, if you believe in a final judgment, that’s fine, but here in this realm we need to keep people from getting hurt and killed, inasmuch as is possible at any rate. Rampant chaos is supposedly what convinced God it was time to flood the earth and wash away all sinners. The lesson to take from that? If we don’t police our own, God will do it for us. We need wrath.
Gluttony for the sake of gluttony is just stupid. I firmly believe in balance. I don’t, and sometimes can’t, always practice it, but I think it’s the right way to go when you’re looking for happiness. If you’re hanging on by your fingernails, though, sometimes the search for happiness just isn’t as important. Survival becomes the ultimate quest instead.
Balance comes into play with sloth, too. Too much work is bad for us, mentally and emotionally. Too much exercise tears down muscle fibres and causes long-term injuries. Too much of anything is not good, which applies to sloth, too. If you’re a lazy git, you’re going to have a miserable life, no question about it. Balance, I say. Find the balance.
I know there are plenty of religions that I haven’t mentioned, including Judaism and the specific religions of the middle east, Buddhism, and Taoism (pronounced dow-ism, by the way, for those of you who aren’t aware of it). There are more, but I’m less familiar with them and don’t feel comfortable criticizing. Logical argument can’t be obtained from ignorance, and I try to practice what I preach there, pun intended.
There’s such huge conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, that I think the Israelis are proving themselves hypocrites just fine on their own. People who serve God don’t destroy His other creatures or force them into such horrific living conditions. Judaism is an ethno-religion, the largest of the world, where the culture is inextricably intertwined with religion and race. I can’t say that there aren’t other religions in Israel, but Judaism is the predominant one. In 2011, the percentage of Jewish people in Israel was over 75%.
I was surprised to discover that there are female Buddhist monks, so I’ll leave the Buddhists alone at this point. I think they need further research before I stick my unsalted foot in my mouth. Same goes for Taoism (which is actually romanized to Daoism now in the newer Pinyin translation). No monks, perhaps, but lack of knowledge keeps me from further comment.
Now, for God. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, the more I learn about science, the more I begin to believe in the possibility of a supreme being. That may seem counter-intuitive to the theologians, but it’s really not. If they stopped teaching their ridiculous creationism and took a real look at the science, they would see that within our very cells there is proof of the miraculous. We can’t possibly be an accident. If they want to convince people that God exists, they’d do better to approach it scientifically. I don’t want to get into a lot of technical stuff here, but stem cell research is what convinces me the most, and it has to do with address assignation and instruction. One day I’ll do a full article about it, or full blog posting, but it’s too big of a topic for this post.
When it comes to destiny and fate, I believe there’s a lot more to this world than meets the eye. I believe in patterns. Like most cops, I think coincidence is bull$@#%. I believe we have some control over our destinies and fates, don’t get me wrong. By all rights I should probably be a serial killer, but I’m not. My empathy would never allow it. I have the upbringing, and possibly the mental capacity, but I feel the pain of others, both human and animal.
I believe I have a destiny. I believe I’m needed in this world, and that there’s something I’m meant to do. I believe I’m living in pain now in order to be hardened into a specific form. Maybe if I didn’t believe that, I would go crazy from it (and who’s to say I’m not already). I believe, truly, that there’s a plan for me, and it’s one I have the will to follow because of all the events leading up to it. I also believe everyone else has a destiny, but I know not everyone will choose to fulfill theirs.
Timing is everything, baby. The time will come when everything happens that’s meant to happen, but only if you want it and allow it. We are required to do a bit of work to shape our destinies. I’m sassy enough to do it. How about you? We’re given the option. We just need to take it. And, let’s face it, there have been many times in my life when I’ve seen things I couldn’t explain, where it truly felt as though fate stepped in and took a hand in my life. Times when I really would be dead if it hadn’t. Times when I felt something that had no rational explanation, a reaction that seemed shoved into me from another source, as though I was being told, “Pay attention to this person,” or “Wake up and take a look at what’s going on here.”
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not on a crusade for God. For the creatures that have potentially been created by a supreme being, most certainly, but not for God. I don’t think I’d have been given certain advantages in life, or put through certain trials and tribulations, if I hadn’t been meant to do something with them. Call it destiny, call it fate, call it me being a giant pain in the ass to the people who oppose what I’m trying to do, it’s all pretty much the same thing.