The constant cries of “foul play” by religious people and those who choose differently when referring to the words and actions of the other camp is getting increasingly boring.
So much time is dedicated towards proving the other wrong that often we forget that which we all have in common. Our humanity. We may adhere to different faiths, have differing social and moral values, and often belong to different economic and social groups, but we are all human.
It is this humanity which I wish to discuss in this letter.
Believers and atheists, and all forms and denominations within those two extremes are guilty of irrational and emotional responses to statements made by the other camp.
This is a clear sign of the inherent similarities that we share as human beings. We are emotional creatures: we view those who believe differently with suspicion; we lack trust when dealing with those who we believe have no moral basis. We eagerly and viciously attack that which is emotionally close to the other party.
We doubt their sincerity, their honesty, and their intelligence. We call each other every name under the sun, but we forget that we are all brothers and sisters, that we come from the same origins, and that we need each other more than we actually understand.
I am a secular humanist, and you may see this as just another form of atheism, and that would be a true and valid assessment. I do not believe in any god or gods, do not believe that beyond the physical world there exist other dimensions wherein spiritual beings in any ethereal form or manner keeps and eye out for us here in this dimension.
I do not believe we possess a soul or a spirit, and that when we die, we return to the earth as atoms and get re-absorb into the physical material world we eat and breathe every day.
Perhaps part of me was once a star, 10 billion years ago. Perhaps part of me was once part of a plant next to a primordial river, and was eaten by some prehistoric animal and crapped out in a stinky heap next to the dead carcass of Tiktaalik, or some other living thing. Who knows?
But is that not a magical, amazing thought to entertain? It’s certainly more possible to accept that than to believe that there are old men in the sky who watches every move I make and who knows all there is to know about me? Both are fantastic claims, but only one, in terms of Occam’s Razor, has a greater degree of possible accuracy.
However, we are all brothers and sisters. We come into this world with feeble bodies and undeveloped brains, and our experiences then start to shape us into the persons whom we then become. We live as infants for a few years, experiencing life as we go along, and we learn from it on a daily basis.
We learn right from wrong, danger from safety, easy from hard, hot from cold.
Our brains, during these periods of development, are building neural nets at a fantastic rate, and the information that gets captured within those nets is the things that stay with us for the rest of our lives.
Our psychology starts before we exit the womb, and we already have functioning brains by then. We can perceive light, hear sounds, get uncomfortable and feel fine, all the things that humans…yes, you and I, experience throughout our lives. Our similarities cannot be denied.
Throughout our history, even in prehistoric man, we see evidence of the desire to believe in a life after this one. As soon as the Cro-Magnon became aware of itself as a being, it started believing that there has to be some form of continuum of life.
The Neanderthals buried their dead with some form of provisions for the journey to come. These things, along with the influences of Shamanic practices have reinforced the concept of life after death, and religions simply used this to make promises they cannot keep in order to draw adherents to their various faiths.
The psychology involved is not that complicated and should be the subject of much deeper personal research in order for us to fully understand the reasons for religious beliefs and practices. Surely, we can see that the customs, routines and rituals of religious practices has an effect on human beings, but this is only so because we do not understand our own true nature as physical beings and how our brains work.
In any case, modern medicine has easily shown how behavior can be chemically modified, and there is no denying that religious fervor can be controlled by the appropriate medication, as can atheistic condemnations of the religious. Once again, our similarities cannot be denied.
I have no doubt that religion will never die and that people will forever want to believe in some higher power. The origins of these beliefs can be discussed at another time, but at this point I wish to illustrate that we all have them, have had them at some point, or in their absence we believe in some form of spirituality and ethereal existence as a means of denying our own simple and basic existence as organic beings, and our mortality as such.
Both serve inherently the same purpose. Some ascribe their existence to the benevolence of some god, others state that it is the universe that talks to them, others simply exist, and many have very little understanding of any of it in the first place.
They simply do not care until such time as either good fortune or disaster strikes, at which time they seem to seek out the influence of an external agent for what has happened.
Very seldom do they either take the blame or the praise. A sad human condition, in my view, but once again a point that indicates our similarities as humans.
I do not care for religion in any of its forms. The differences in the various religions that have sprouted up since we started to walk upright are nothing but efforts to understand the world. I do not care for, or fear, any of the numerous gods that apparently have the power to destroy me, my life, my family and the world around me.
The only conspicuous things about these many gods, including the bad ones (Satan, Angra Manyu, etc), is their total absence in my life. I hear from their adherents on a daily basis, but for some reason they remain silent.
I do not care for the teachings of any of these gods, purely because they are incoherent, irreconcilable with each other, and they are all apparently the only one and the only truth.
What I do care for is my fellow sisters and brothers on this earth. I will help them and defend them and support them in whatever way I can, irrespective of what or who they believe in. I will defend our “sameness”, and will try to understand our differences. I will attempt at all times to treat them with respect and dignity, and to honor their humanity.
What I refuse to do is to respect their beliefs if they are seen to be harmful to the innocent, the uninformed, the diseased and the poor. I see churches taking money from the poor, and I will fight that. I see religions making promises to the terminally ill, and I will question the morality of that.
I see pastors and priests abusing the youth, and I will call them out on that and expose them.
I will have no moral qualms about doing this, because my moral responsibility rests with those whom I see as the victims of this world-wide scam in its many guises and forms. I am guided by a very basic moral compass, which states that I should treat others in the manner in which I wish to be treated within the confines of the social system we function in.
In conclusion, see our similarities first, then our differences. Treat each other with respect. Learn from each other, and please, for the love of logic, read some information on psychology and why we are the way we are.
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