‘For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible’ ~ Stuart Chase.
Misunderstandings. Collision of beliefs. Religion can be quite a touchy subject, something that we creep around in fear of offending others. What’s the etiquette for handling religion? With respect and intentions of creating constructive discussion.
I am not religious. If you wanted to categorise me I’d fit neatly into agnostic. Sitting on the fence. I also have my own thoughts on heaven, I believe in everyday little miracles and the existence of souls (an eternal living part containing our consciousness and personality). Part of me doesn’t want to accept that NOW is all we have, but maybe it’s the best way to make sure we live our lives to the fullest on earth. I have difficulty believing in an all-knowing omnipotent being as much as the thought of someone caring from above, listening to our hopes and prayers is comforting. But I have been known to utter a silent selfless prayer for someone when the going gets tough. Most of my answers come from within and not from an external source. Can a person be agnostic and spiritual?
Author and mathematician Martin Gardner said
I have no really good evidence for my beliefs but that it simply makes me feel better. You have far better evidence for your convictions but I just feel secure in my acceptance.
And in many ways this is reflective of my stance.
I have great respect for those who wear their faiths on their sleeves. Always interested to learn about the religious beliefs of others, I remember being taught about synagogues, Hindu deities and being amazed at how complex their interpretation of God was, agreeing with the life lessons and philosophy rooted in Buddhism and learning about the five pillars of Islam. Seeing the Christian view points on sanctity of life and marriage. My school did great at helping us learn about the diversity of religious groups and appreciating it.
Which takes me to last Friday. I got into a discussion with a young guy who was training to be a minister, partly as I was killing time and partly as he had me in a conversational headlock. The kind where it’s really hard to wrench yourself free. When I got home I googled the church he belonged to and he turned out to be an Evangelical Christian. Labelled as being extreme, taking the bible literally and heavy on the relaying of the ‘good news’, I was surprised how accepting he was of my non-religious status and my curious questioning. He knew I had my thoughts, concrete yet flexible, and didn’t treat it as a conversion mission.
But there were a few things I couldn’t get my head around:
- His denial of Evolution. It boggles my mind how the world came together and how humans are these complex machines that work so fantastically perfect but my years of science offers explanations and evidence, logic and reasoning. Darwin would not be happy!
- 9 people had been cured of cancer at his Church, even someone with a flesh-eating disease had their condition improved through prayer. When I bought up that it could have been the support network within the Church leading to a positive ‘fighting’ attitude he was certain it was God’s love in the room that was the medicine.
- Increased ‘pestilence and earthquakes’ were a sign of the end of our world.
- There is one God and all other religions are wrong. This is basically what he told me when I asked what he thought about the many Hindu gods and goddesses and where other religions fitted in the scope of his beliefs.
Blinded by faith?
I find it hard to unquestionably accept things so I guess I found it difficult to understand his thinking, not accepting alternatives as possibilities (if they were feasible of course).
A friend once asked me if I thought religious people were weak, but my thought is the contrary – faith requires strength.