I’m not an atheist but sometimes I can see their point. I want to say I’m agnostic but each time I think it, I hear Stephen Colbert saying, “Agnostics are atheists without balls.” And agnostic probably doesn’t fairly reflect my thoughts about religion. An agnostic maintains that nobody knows for sure but there is plenty I’m sure of … not the least of which is when you remove the historical references and symbolic metaphors, a large portion of the Bible, Koran and Torah is bullshit.
I’d typically be more reticent except that those who subscribe to what’s in the good book(s) seem incapable of reticence. In fact, they seem to feel empowered to impose their view of the world … and because they didn’t make the rules but are simply faithful foot soldiers in God’s army, they believe their arrogance, bigotry and disdain is ordained … larger than all of us.
A very close friend with whom I grew up was largely agnostic most of his life. He was accepting of most things and although he was not a benevolent person by any stretch, he did prescribe to the live and let live philosophy of life. As he grew older, he endured a series of spirit shattering trials and tribulations. Eventually he turned to Christianity and his faith has given him a strength and peace he’s never known. And if that were all there was to it, I’d have nothing to say … I’d be happy for him as I would for any person who can find that kind of inner peace.
Unfortunately, along with that newfound sense of self came a sudden contempt for homosexuals, a distrust of Muslim’s and a disdain for the Unitarian Church because it isn’t “Christian enough.” These prejudices came from nowhere. In the decades I had known him, I’d never caught a glimmer they might exist under the surface either … because they didn’t. In his defense, he was sure to make it clear his judgment was nothing personal, it’s just that the scripture clearly says these things are unnatural and a blasphemy. Simple as that.
He would later begin telling me from time to time how hard it was for him to know I was going to hell (I haven’t been Baptized.) I didn’t know what to say to that. There was no sense of irony, passive aggression or veiled suggestion in his words. He wasn’t trying to convert me. It was a simple statement of fact in his mind. I suppose I could have been taken aback or insulted but instead I felt sorry for him. What a nightmare it would be if I knew someone I cared about was destined for a horrible ending. It was disheartening to think an idea that had brought him so much peace was now creating pain where none need exist.
Religion is such a lose-lose-draw discussion point so I don’t try to make statements about faith and religion; good or bad. I have no beef with any philosophy or conviction that gives hope and inner peace. I’m just disappointed that my friend and others like him think they’ve found it.
I am no great philosopher nor am I privy to any grand wisdom but I do know there are simple truths affecting the human condition:
- We are all connected. When one suffers, we all do … in ways I don’t necessarily understand.
- Love is the most important sentiment above all others. Respect is a close second. Compassion is the spiritual blending of both.
- Karma exists … what you put into the universe, you will get back … good, bad or indifferent.
If God exists; though, it would seem to me that just as He is the architect of our individuality and our free will, so to would he spread his grace by granting each of us the freedom to choose how we worship Him. In this way, no faith or prescribed means by which we recognize a higher power is right or wrong. It just is.