I do have many thoughts about the issue of religion. My original post was deliberately quite light-hearted. You all appear to have had the heavy debate about it for me. However, I have become sucked in to a point where I have to say more……….
I see religion a personal choice in the same way as drinking alcohol/or not or eating meat/or not. People with different viewpoints (as long as these viewpoints do not impact on the rights of others) should be able to co-exist without feeling a need to convert or feel anger towards each other. So if someone does not respect another’s’ right to hold a particular viewpoint, however strange that viewpoint might seem to them personally (and tries endlessly to convert the opposite viewee), that’s when it all goes wrong. That just seems to end up in angry polarisation.
I will always challenge a person that tries to convert me to religion - quite forcefully - and defend my right not to believe (or even see the point of religion) but I would never try and tell them what they should believe. If a person tells me they are religious, I do experience a degree of prejudice but I have ceased the ‘writing off’ of that person that I did in my youth. I have friends that hold a variety of beliefs that seem strange to me (needing to appear affluent for example) but in the most part I tend to find like-minds in life to hang out with – probably for an easier life!
To elaborate further, there are people that believe in ghosts, there are those that don’t, there are people that believe in reincarnation, there are those that don’t, there are people that can believe without solid proof and there are those that can’t, (probably down to personality types!) etc etc. Some people like to think for themselves, question, challenge etc more than others – and that’s fine too! We all find our own individual moral frameworks, opinions, attitudes, beliefs – through our experiences and education and that’s wonderful. It really would be a boring world if we all thought the same.
When organised and institutionalised religion (as opposed to personal belief) causes bad things to happen, that’s probably down to the corruption of power and far too much self-righteousness/interest/belief. Hopefully the church is not quite so powerful these days and does experience a greater degree of challenge. Terrible things have been done in the name of organised religion – but I would never assume that every individual within that organisation held the same beliefs or condoned the actions of an extreme minority within that religion. Within any religion, there is always a spectrum of views and different levels of orthodoxy.
I see my personal dislike of religion mostly aimed at its power through its prevalence and strangely protected status (an anachronism), the fact dogma alone is automatically taught in some schools, the judgement it sometimes delivers (that aims to take individual’s rights away e.g. stating same-sex couples are wrong) and through any dogma that tells every individual exactly what they should believe and how they should behave (e.g. not using contraception). So for me personally, I would rather make up my own mind without the input (or guidance) from any religion.
I like what Heronster said…..none of us really know/can prove/have the ultimate scientific answer about existence….so a few colourful mythical type stories do it for some and are shunned by others and that’s fine.