Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Some random thoughts on God and religion

I usually stay clear of this subject but, as I’m being open and honest about everything in my life, I may as well give my thoughts on this matter too.  I hope this doesn’t offend any of my small bunch of regular readers but I refuse to lie about or hide my thoughts now.

To be blunt and completely honest, I don’t believe in God.  I know that there are things out there that science can’t answer as yet but I don’t believe that that necessarily opens the door to the existence of an all-powerful creator deity.  I’m of the opinion that there is nothing in control of the Universe – no God, no universal mind, no all-embracing intellect.  I truly believe that the entire edifice of the Universe is nothing more than an accident of random events and mind-blowingly good fortune.  Chaos theory can equally explain the whole of creation as placing it all in the hands of a deity.

Some might say that the monumentally precise set of circumstances that led to the Earth being in the right place for life to evolve or that there was just enough more particles of matter than anti-matter to create the Universe we know or that gravity and a whole host of other necessary forces are at just the right levels to keep the Universe as we know going are signs of some kind of controlling entity.  However, it is surely just as plausible that the reason these circumstances are just right for the Universe we live in is because there have been many attempts to create the right circumstances that have failed until the right ones were found.  Simply put, we may simply be the recipients of a cartload of good fortune.

It may also be possible that we live in a multiverse filled with other universes that are barren, lifeless places that didn’t have the good fortune that this Universe has or that are filled with life that couldn’t live in our Universe with its specific range of circumstances but are equally amazed at the good fortune to have a universe that caters to their particular needs.

With that said, it may come as no surprise that I believe that God is actually a construct of human need to make sense of the chaos that surrounds us.

It must be a great comfort to people to attribute all the horrors and tragedies of life on a deity’s plan for us all and that the reward at the end of a tortured existence is an ever-lasting paradise for those who follow the faith of the deity.  It’s this woolly thinking that allows people to keep going throughout all the bad times and also allows the faithful to reconcile good things happening to bad people with the idea that the bad people are getting good things now because they’ll be paying for it in eternal purgatory whilst the good people who have lived with bad things happening to them will be rewarded with an idyllic afterlife.

Don’t get me wrong here – I envy people with faith because they have something to cling onto to get themselves through the darkness we are forced to live in.  I would dearly love to have something warm and cosy to believe in but I’m also the kind of person who hates the idea of being spoon-fed answers to the difficult questions in life or, worse, not asking the hard questions in the first place.  I’m also not so close-minded that I am unwilling to accept the existence of a deity if the proof existed.

I think my greatest problem with the existence of a God are the religions that have grown up around them.  It seems a little convenient that there are people who believe they actually speak for God, that they are somehow in receipt of God’s wisdom and that they then pass on that wisdom on God’s behalf.  For me, it seems a system that is open for so much abuse that it barely more than charismatic person who misappropriates a deity for the purposes of personal gain, which is then passed on from one person or set of people to the next to keep the control of those people desperate to believe in something greater than themselves.

If God truly existed, why does he/she/it allow such misappropriation of their truth?  I suppose that a religious person would say that it is because God allows his children to have free will but, if that’s the truth, where does that leave the idea of God having a plan for all of us?  Surely, if God has a plan for each of us, that precludes the possibility of us having free will?

And look at the amount of conflicts that are caused directly by the existence of multiple religions.  Most religions preach love but cause hate and death because of the conflicts between the various religions in how love, peace and understanding should be achieved.

To take the Christian Holy Bible as an example, there are now so many interpretations of the so-called Word of God that there are countless various splinter religions all of one which claim to follow the Word of God but disagree on how they do it.  Surely, some of these splinter religions are merely vehicles for charismatic people to bend people to their way of thinking and to gain status as being the only person to truly understand God’s wishes?

None of it really adds up for me.  I can’t believe in a God who builds a Universe but then deliberately hides the reality of his/her/its existence so that there can be any doubt at all.  And I can’t believe that any person or organisation can speak for a deity if one truly exists if there is no one single interpretation.

For all the good that religion and faith can bring to a person’s life, it can also bring death and conflict to whole swathes of the world’s population and that just doesn’t sit right with me.

There are also a large number of religions, sub-religions and cults out there claiming to be the one true faith so which one, if a God really exists, is the true faith?  It just seems like a very complicated and messy business and there’s only one true origin of such business and that’s the human race.

I leave you now with a joke from British stand-up comedian Andy Parsons although I’ll have to paraphrase because I can’t remember the exact wording:

There are five main religions and that means that four of them have to be wrong.  On the day you die, you find yourself in front of the five main Gods.  You’ve picked your God.  You’re happy with your God.  How galling it would be then when your God produces a piece of card with the word ‘Bluff’ written on it?

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