Tag Archives: belief

Believing in a Christian America

Throughout America there is an inextinguishable belief that one random day blue skies will break open with trumpets, angels and such to manifest in a cloud of glory a spiritual being who will take up with Him buried bodies and live souls into a permanent residence called heaven. It is a place unlike any other and its appearance is greatly enhanced by manipulated imaginations of eager and loyal saints. These saints are saints because they have freely given their lives away for redemption of promises etched in a holy book while accepting these promises as fact. The promise of a returning monarch becomes a distinguishing mark of faith for those who believe the message from the messenger is unmistakably and profoundly true. Yet, all of this theology is without corroborating evidence sustained through any length of time. Unfortunately, the life of their Christian hero, conceived without his parents enjoying sex as part of his conception, and who performed miracles that crowds of witnesses have attested to, met his end on a hilltop between two thieves in a most humiliating event; crucifixion. The “proofs” of His resurrection have been lost in time but the faith these dear people have in a resurrection from the dead lingers and is the cornerstone of their hoped-for salvation.

The various religious musings of preachers, teachers, evangelists, prophets, priests and the like have broadened the message to include faith healers, snake handlers, televangelists and wannabes. All of these men and women must base their message on dubious, faith-based, irrational claims while focusing the attention of believers on a hope that takes them away from this world, to a place called, “Escapism.” And, isn’t that what this is all about? So, lets make up a future in a heavenly place where the cares of this world are left behind and we can live forever in a protective element. One day, so the belief goes, those who have given their lives to the Creator will have an eternity to reside on cloud pillows with nothing to do but stretch out their limbs for anything they desire and walk on gold-covered streets studded with diamonds, pearls and sapphires, all the while living with an eternal being most call, God.

All of the above is believed because someone told them it was so, or, their trust in the message comes from a subjective experience called “real.” That is the hardest part for me to accept. And, I must do it on what is called “faith.” No matter what question I might pose to formerly fellow believers their answer lies within the following: “You’ve got to have faith, Ed!”

Many of us were taught to believe in Santa Claus. And we did, until one of our friends began to humiliate our thinking with deprecating words about our Santa. We got the message and began to turn away. It wasn’t easy because we had an emotional attachment to the idea of a beneficent figure giving out candy and toys after springing from an undamaged chimney. The same kind of experience is often the usual with religious beliefs. But, somehow, we are unable to see it as fantasy and the escapism it represents. That is either because it is clearly true, even while there is very little to support that idea, or, it is because there is too much invested by others, especially those who have built large empires around their faith and would lose an income, a job, or a sense of importance, if it were not deemed to be true. Perpetuating the myth is necessary for the false promise of another life in a grand place of heavenly hope while not having to deal with the vagaries of life that hit us with little or no warning. Or, it is self-serving. I believe there are religious types who would not even be religious or spiritual if their job did not depend upon it.

Perpetuating a fraud if it gets you the necessary elements to a life worth living is all that matters? Foundations are important. This one appears to be crumbling.


We Don’t Know Yet?

“I have never understood why the fallback position to unanswerable questions about the universe is that an all-powerful, all-knowing being intervened. To me, ‘we don’t know yet’ is a fine response.”

—Robyn Blumner, columnist and editor, The St. Petersburg Times, Aug. 8, 2004


God By Any Other Name? – Sam Harris

“When the stakes are this high – when calling God by the right name can make the difference between eternal happiness and eternal suffering, it is impossible to respect the beliefs of others who don’t believe as you do.”

― Sam Harris, author, philosopher, and neuroscientist


There is no God?

“Believing there is no God gives me more room for belief in family, people, love, truth, beauty, sex, Jell-O and all the other things I can prove and that make this life the best life I will ever have.”

—Penn Jillette, “There Is No God,” NPR’s “This I Believe” series, Nov. 21, 2005


Is it Black and White?

For some time I have observed security to be described in terms of either black or white. Feeling safe is a right most contend they have been given while feeling unsafe is a threat few would desire. What we think about is either safe or not safe. Often it is in between. We gravitate toward those places and thoughts that make us feel safe and do our best to avoid the discomfort of little or no security.

 

Many ideas about the world come to us from our parents and those we respect. These ideas become “grafted” into our unconscious. We make assumptions about these truths and live, for a time, without questioning them. The existence of Santa Claus and his reindeer are one of the first “facts” we are told. And, for most of us, that reality was as sure as anything else we have ever been told. That is, until someone, perhaps an older sibling, said there was no Santa Claus. That revealing statement became a troubling thought. At first, we denied it. Couldn’t be. No, Mom and Dad would not tell a lie. But then little things gnawed at our suspicions causing them to open like a festering wound that would not heal. The truth was unwelcome and inconvenient.

 

Truth works like that especially when a respected person, usually a parent, shares the “truth” with you. It becomes very difficult to give up the “truth” when it comes from such high authority as an all-knowing and invincible parent. Giving up Santa is like giving up a parent, a very difficult proposition.

 

Given the fact that other cultures have alternative Santa Claus figures best fitting their belief systems, one begins to wonder if a universal truth exists. There is no doubt that many believe in a universal truth but proof is difficult to produce. One accepts Santa Claus stories on faith since the persons promoting the idea have a credible role as parent or adult.

 

If I were born in Utah chances are I would be a Mormon. If I was raised in Egypt I might be Islamic, and if I was born in Thailand I would probably be convinced Buddhism was my religious identity. Much of our religious identity has to do with where we were born and to whom we were born.

 

So, when someone questions religious identities people begin to feel insecure. Their protection and security is threatened. People fear there might be a mistake and so to protect their beliefs they tend to lash out in defense. Some religions will even threaten anyone who believes differently. Some even threaten death. Some are in danger of losing their reputation or even their life over a belief system as an agnostic, atheist or unbeliever. It is true that many pin their hopes on religion to assist them through some of the darkest people experiences. It doesn’t matter where their hope comes from it just matters that they are given something to believe. If one doesn’t believe as the predominating culture does those threatening ideas are subject to being crushed and the person is excluded from the group. The person who does not believe as others do is made to pay for independent thinking.

 

Is it better to shut down those who question the “truth” than to find cogent arguments to preserve a way of living? One can feel secure because the person who has questioned a belief system is presumed to have been intellectually and spiritually vanquished. After all, if you have faith you have all you need. Or, do you?