Religion is a funny little thing really, belief systems (mostly) aimed at transcendence of daily struggles, but often doing a whole lot of segregating humans into little sects that see the world through different, albeit very similar lenses. This essay is not a religion-hate piece, nor an exercise in Atheistic apologetics, just my views on what religion is to me.
Recently I was riding home from work and off to the East there was a storm building, a big black and shiny thing that crackled and spat, and being on a bike, I have to say that I was somewhat intimidated and I had a quick ‘I hope that doesn’t hit any time soon’ and with this thought I came to briefly reflect on how ancient civilisations must have viewed storms such as these. I live in a world that understands storms for what they are, relatively benign events that pass by with, in most cases, little to no damage. But with zero understanding of what a storm was and where it came from, I can understand where stories, myths and higher beings may start to take shape. This phenomenon isn’t the only event which would be inexplicable: earthquakes, floods, but even more day to day concerns, illness, death would have to be attributed some sort of meaning (as is the nature of humans). In this era of understanding, tribes aren’t communicating about each others beliefs, but live in different geographical locations and are subject to different environmental phenomena to different strains of illness and different threats and as a result general belief systems start to creep away from one another and start to form the basis of different religions. But I digress from the point of where I was going.
I was brought up into a secular existence, a professional father, a stay at home and part time working mother, public schooling until my senior years. In my senior years I entered a Catholic school and learnt what was required of me. Part of this was a ‘Religions of the world’ unit, that looked at other religions with disdain, looked at the differences in beliefs, rather than in the similarities of not what the religion, but the people within that religion, were trying to achieve, that is, to understand the world. I find this particularly troubling that when we look at any belief system there is always the comparison of not only how they are different, but how they are worse.
The idea of a supernatural being that watches over me, that guides everything that has and ever will happen, simply makes no sense to me. The fact that there are many iterations of God and God-like figures internationally and countless others that have died out leaves me with even less faith that there is anything out there. If the Greek and Roman gods, are no longer worshipped and now known as myths, what credence does this give to the current set of gods? When is their number up?
One of my biggest issues with religion and religious belief is that people are willing to die and fight for what are essentially exactly the same beliefs, those of a desire to freedom, a desire to succeed and live on.
I have done a bit of travel, been exposed to Christianity, to Buddhism, to Islam and others and the reality is that the sole goal of all people no matter from what religion is a simple rule ‘Just don’t die’ and with that comes the idea of community, of family, of perpetuity of love, of happiness. A Christian values his family no more than a Buddhist, or a Muslim, or an Atheist. The thing that we miss in all these comparisons, in the religious one upsmanship, is that when it all boils down we are all human and besides that, nothing else matters.