GOD? WHAT GOD?

I often engage in online discussions in the comment sections of blogs on various topics. One in particular, which I have cited before, is Reg On Wry, appearing in the Post-Gazette, in addidtion to his regular Wednesday column.

Most of the regulars in that forum express themselves quite well and represent pretty much every view along the political spectrum. Recently this has included concerns about the role of religion in government and even side trips to the validity of religion itself.

After reviewing a number of posts I crafted my overview of the entire subject which I have expanded upon here. To keep some parts intact to present my ideas properly, I have left in referrences to others that would not make sense otherwise.

Here goes!

In regards to my own dealing with the religious among us who offer their unsolicited message of god, I can only state what I do.

First, I take no offense nor do I bristle at the mere mention of any deity or the simple offering of God bless you at a sneeze or Merry Christmas during the season. I do not share their beliefs but understand how and why so many intelligent and practical people trust so much in their faith.

My own personal belief is that religion, all religion in mankind’s history, is rooted in the incredible ignorance we have of the origins of the universe and its utterly inconceivable vastness. As we gain more knowledge we understand how little we do know.

Prior to understanding even the basics of the elements and how they operate man invented gods to explain these phenomena. As organized religions developed and monotheism became more common, people learned that they could retreat into their faith when faced with cataclysmic events that defied human understanding. They felt comfort and security in that faith.

That remains the essence of religions today. Unfortunately what man creates he can also pervert. Man’s inherent weakness results in inconsistent and  discriminatory application of the very tenets of the religion established by man.

I accept that religious people, those of faith, in most cases are sincere in expressing that and generally mean no harm to others. But man’s baser instincts prevail even within the realm of religion so as to debase the entire concept of a god in the eyes of nonbelievers of whom there are obviously several members in this forum.

I then have questions. If there is but one true god, why are there so many manifestations? Isn’t god in all his(or her or its) wisdom capable of uniting all his followers under one roof, as it were?

Even within a particular religion why are there so many variations? Christianity is well known for its plethora of denominations that among themselves are often like totally separate religions.

Likewise, Islam is not one size fits all either. Besides Sunni and Shi’ite there are probably as many variants as contained in Christianity.( That’s one reason fear of Shariah law is ridiculous because it, too has no unitary concept and application.)

But far from calling all religious people stupid or ignoramouses or misguided or ill-intentioned I look upon them as yielding to basic human nature and all that entails, in other words, the extremes of both good and bad.

I do not want to be judged merely on the standards of religion since those standards make no more sense than choosing a manner of acting by rolling dice. The principles of do not kill, do not steal and do not lie are all prominent within my personal DNA without the influence of “god”.

One thing that bothers me about Christianity in particular is that most denominations preach that the only route to heaven is to accept Jesus as your savior. So I, and others, who live relatively exemplary lives (Oh, I’ve fallen greatly at times!), will never make the trip, though someone who has made a life of crime but professes his faith in Jesus on his deathbed is on the holy train.

I do not want to be proselytized though I alomst always have been successful in mildly rebuffing such efforts. I am willing to listen to people offering examples of their own faith in order to persuade me to join them so long as they don’t try to make me feel guilty if I resist.

I acknowledge that a belief in god has motivated many positive changes in our lives, such as the civil rights movement noted elsewhere. I do not believe religion was the sole basis for this success nor do I want so-called religious principles as the sole guiding force as to how my government is established or operated.

All that said I probably wish a Merry Christmas first before the other person.  If someone tells me to have a “blessed day” I thank them for their goodwill. If someone includes me in their prayer circle I thank them for their thoughtfulness. If someone condemns me as a heathen I tell them to go to hell. For if there really are a heaven and a hell that is where they belong for their decidely unchristian attitude.

One question I have for those who violently object to being told “Happy Holidays” rather than “merry Christmas” is, why? Christmas and New Years are two holidays falling within a week of each other on the Christian calendar. And if one doesn’t know your religion that saluatation covers Hanukah, Kwanzaa and even Festivus for the rest of us. My advice is to lighten up.

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