Writing this on Christmas morning, while having my morning coffee and chocolate donut (remember “Ruts and Routines”?) and listening to “What Child is This” on public radio, I was thinking of what a short shrift is given to agnostics, who are invariably and totally erroneously lumped in with atheists. Atheists don’t believe in God: agnostics just aren’t sure based on logic, but definitely don’t believe in organized religion, and the atrocities created throughout history by religious fanatics strongly supports this stand.
I love Christmas. I really do. I love the concept of Peace on Earth, and of hope and promise. I find the image of a sky full of angels lovely, as I do the thought of Santa coming down the chimney with a bag of toys. But while Christianity—rather smugly, I’m afraid—assumes it holds a patent on the Golden Rule and all that is good and noble in the world, in truth it does not. The principle of the Golden Rule is shared by most of the world’s religions.
I honestly do not think one must belong to a specific religion to believe in goodness and kindness, and to work for the betterment of mankind. Good people are good people. Simply belonging to a religion does not make one good. Bigotry, intolerance, and hate, however subtly hidden beneath all the “Amens” and “Hallelujahs” in the world, are still bigotry, intolerance, and hate and do not make one person or one group superior to any other.
Every human being is…or should be…free to choose whatever concept of God he or she feels comfortable with. Relatively few have or take this option of choice which, like any form of choice, requires asking questions. But it is far easier to simply accept what one is told. So little thinking is involved that way, and thinking too much can give one a headache.
I’ve been an agnostic since I was old enough to ask “Why?” in matters religious. “Why?” is a question neither welcomed nor tolerated by most organized religions. It is often seen as...well, sacrilegious...to question, and to persist in asking results in such responses as “God has a reason for everything.” Well, thanks, but that was my question: Why? Evasions are not answers. One of my favorite bumper stickers of all time is: “God says it. I believe it. That settles it.” Which is not unlike saying, “My mother, drunk or sober.”
I have no problem with anyone believing anything they want to believe. I appreciate that organized religion is truly and deeply comforting for many, and provides a form of stability in an all-too-unstable world. And as long as your beliefs do not result in a restriction of my own or anyone else’s rights and freedoms, more power to you. But I believe with all my heart and soul that if your religion of choice promotes or even condones anything that limits the rights or beliefs of others, you are in the wrong religion.
It is possible to firmly believe in God without showing up in a building everyor to confirm it. Again, if gathering with others who share your beliefs gives you comfort, that is fine…for you, as long as you do not fall into the trap of assuming superiority over others who do not think exactly the same way you think.
I try my very best to be a good person, to treat everyone with courtesy and dignity, and to always take the feelings of others into consideration. I don’t always succeed, of course, but I really do try. But the world abounds in those who assume their particular religious beliefs give them the right to impose their beliefs on everyone else. Again, how many millions have, over history, been slaughtered in the name of religion? How can God be on both sides in a war? And by what stupefying arrogance can and do people presume to speak for God?
No, thank you. I prefer to keep my own counsel. I have enough faith in myself to decide fairly accurately what is right and what is wrong…again based on the simple yardstick of the Golden Rule. I truly respect the rights of others to believe or not believe in any organized religion or philosophy even though I may not agree with them. Why does it seem to be too much to ask the same of them?
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits. It's available from Untreed Reads and Amazon; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon: