A Religious Epiphany

Having been a religious skeptic for the majority of my life, I have finally had a sort of epiphany and everything just sort of fell together tonight, and for once, my beliefs have taken coalesced into a whole.

While embroiled in a conversation about religion, I finally realized that it was not the idea of God that I have been so uncomfortable with, it was the structured religion based upon one. Then delving deeper into thought on the matter, I began piecing together everything that I believed and it all just sort of fell together into the grand realization.

I’m calling it Rationalism.

I do believe in a god, I have never seen any reason to disbelieve in a god, and don’t believe that God can ever be disproved. What I have never believed in though, was rigidly structured organizations that use the belief of the masses in a God as a way to gain influence, power, and control. It’s wrong, and so utterly human of us to allow this to happen. Why is it, that we as humans, allow other humans to decide how we are supposed to live our lives, just because they fly God’s banner above their heads? What makes them so audacious as to say that their wishes are the wishes of God? Even in my limited time on this planet, I have realized that while there are a lot of differences among people, fundamentally, we are all the same. Why is it then, that we allow groups of people, just like us, to rule our lives, by saying what they teach is God’s will?

And then using God’s will as a way of judging their fellow man, creating false differences between us.

Take for instance, homosexuality. If God made me, and God is infallible, then why did God, in all of his wisdom, make me homosexual? Are you saying that even though god made me, and made me homosexual, that he is wrong? Yet some people, flying the banner of God above their heads, would presume to attempt to say that God is fallible, just by accusing me, being as I was created, as being “immoral”.

The nerve, presuming the wishes of God, based on one’s own prejudice.

And yet I, would be the blasphemer.

Some logic.

And this is not Christianity I am referring to necessarily, all religions in general, the fact that we allow our fellow man to sell us a falsehood of God’s will.

And yet we accept it as truth, go to church, and attempt to be moral and just humans.

Well, moral and just so long as it only pertains to people just like us anyways. Because as can even be seen on this board just by mentioning something as homosexuality, those rules of being moral and just only apply when it is some act that the majority likes.

Completely ignoring that all men were created by God, regardless of their life’s choices.

Also, one of the other things that made me so utterly uncomfortable with religion on the whole, was how resistant to change it is. Who opposed the idea of the Sun being the center of the solar system?

The church.

Evolution?

The Church again.

How many other major advancements in human history have been opposed, just because the major religious bodies were resistant to changes in public perception?

It’s a sham, in my opinion.

Nothing in current science precludes the existance of God, in some ways, it actually reinforces it. Just because science doesn’t support the timeline that was written in a holy book (written by your average, fallible, man), doesn’t mean the science is wrong.

So far, all science has been able to come up with, is that the universe essentially just exploded into being out of nothingness 15 billion years ago, and has been forever changing, growing, expanding, maturing.

What do you think set it off? Notice what science came up with, that it just exploded into being out of nothing.

Doesn’t that sound at all to you like the influence of the Hand of God?

Bang.

Universe exists, albiet in infant form.

And don’t you think that it would stand to chance, that as with any other master work of art, as God piled on the layers and colors, growing his work, expanding it, improving it, making it better, it would be a logical assumption that changes would be more gradual. Think of how many times one of us might revise a drawing, or a design, before being satisfied. Then even then, still wanting to change it.

Omnipotent or not, this is a damn complex universe we live in, and it is always changing.

Evolution, for instance. How amazing is that when you break it down?

Starting with a few amino acids, life just suddenly sprang forth. And through many revisions, dead ends, false starts, and just plain accidents, we arrive to us, and the world we live in. Just because we might not have been designed into the world from the start doesn’t make us any less special does it?

We are here aren’t we?

Doesn’t that make us special enough?

Put yourself, briefly, in the place of God. Wouldn’t you try to build your work in such a fashion that it was always changing, growing, bettering itself? After 15 billion years, wouldn’t that be a much more interesting thing to observe from above, than something static?

Science isn’t precluding God, science is just trying to explain the way he did it.

Kind of like a skyscraper. It doesn’t just appear, it is built.

So shouldn’t that be our goal as a race? To better ourselves? Wouldn’t that make much more sense than listening to the teachings of a static organization, that through their own self righteousness, believes their words to be those of God?

Isn’t that assuming a bit much?

Me, I’m just going to try to live my life the best I can. I honestly think he could care less where I am and what I am doing every Sunday.

At least by following what I believe in my heart, and doing my best to better myself and those around me, I know that I can’t be possibly doing wrong to God.

And a part of that is accepting that everyone is equally the creation of God, meaning that those parts of us hard wired to us, sexuality, skin color, eye color, race, and whatever minor differences there may be, are all equally worthy of life and prosperity, and should not, under any circumstances, be punished or held back because of a difference in ideals.

Because if everyone was the same, just how interesting of a creation would this be?

Well good for you modro. But you might want to think over your reasoning a little better. There are some holes.

If God made you, and God is infallible, then why did God, in all of his wisdom, make you homosexual? The standard response amongst Christians is that all humans are born into sin. That is we are all born flawed both physically and spiritually. This is what leads to death. One of your ‘flaws’ is being homosexual. (Yeah yeah,I know, just work with me here and pretend I’m a fundie). Other people are born with no limbs. That doens’t mean that God made them that way. It’s a flaw. No one was meant to be born homosexual or with no limbs.

Not that this reasoning doesn’t open up a whole slew of other problems, but this one in itself is fairly easily overcome. No one needs to accuse God of fallibility, just man or more specifically one man.

What you see as a “standard flaw” is the very concept he is rejecting, though-being born into sin.

Well I did say that it opened up a whole mess of other problems. Just that it can’t be seen as evidence that organised religion’s intolerance of homosexuals is itself evidence that God doesn’t support religion. Which I think was Modro’s point.

If by ‘Hand of God’ you mean ‘we don’t know how it happened’, then yes. If by ‘Hand of God’ you mean 'we don’t know how it happened so let’s say it was the work of a sentient being, then no.

I have no problems with modro’s post. It is very similar to my line of thinking. The only difference maybe in the example that zwaldd brings up.

The way I see it, God exists beyond and above time. God is everywhere and everything all at once throughout infinity. If God were to come in at point A (say 0 bc) then God has to come in at all points in time thus fundamentally destroying time itself (what’s the point of time if “one” can exist actively at all points?) So therefore I believe God must be inactive. This is the primary reason I believe organized religion to be bunk.

The real issue here isnt whether God exists, or whether he created the universe. The issue is whether God TAKES ACTION in this universe.

Modro–congrats on arriving at your conclusions, because anything we arrive at by our own thinking is more meaningful than something we are just told to accept.But your concept of “rationalism” isn’t new-- it was well known in the 1700’s.It was called “deism”–a general belief in an deity of some sort, but with no expectations that this deity actually affects the world or cares about individual humans.

Of all the people I have know who are “religious”–I can see 2 different types:
1: those who believe that God cares about individuals and responds to specific people, and
2: those who practice organized, institutional rituals because it gives them comfort to be within a group of friends who all act similarly.

In either case, religion adds meaning to their lives. Even if God doesn’t exist.

Lovely, modro.

There’s a column in the Tribune by a priest & a rabbi who call themselves “The God Squad” and I imagine some people find it helpful but their title is so offensive to me that I’ve never bothered to read it.

Ah, but you see, this is the whole point I am trying to refute.

Organized religion has led us to believe that the very natural functions that create us are sins. Its a false moral construct. By that logic, are you saying that every other animal and creature on the face of this planet is born into sin?

The fact that we die is just another way of helping make sure that the system improves itself. By us having a definite life span, it gives us the motivation to improve ourselves, and realize just how special the time we have is.

Religion would lead you to believe that our death is because we sinned, I believe that death is just a way of showing us how truly special life is.

Which is a completely understandeably assumption of course. Saying that it wouldn’t be the work of a sentient being is an assumption that I myself would have stated many times in the past.

The point I was trying to make though, is that if in fact God does exist, and created the universe at that one point in time, then why is it that the Church is so unwilling, or unable to accept new information on how everything formed up to the point that we are in? It certainly doesn’t make the fact that we are here any less impressive. So maybe we weren’t created in his image. IMO, that is a rather lofty assumption for one to make.

In all honesty, I don’t really think that God cares what is going on down here. While moral constructs are great thing to have as far as governing people, stating that they are the wishes of God is quite the long assumption.

I’ve never been a religious person, and never will. I refuse to allow myself to be controlled by an organization that uses God’s banner to decide what is and is not proper for us. In their attempts to make us believe that we, as people, are “more special” than any other creature, they have created false morality that makes us reject even the natural processes that create us.

Make us shameful of even our own bodies.

Because it is “God’s will”

If I said it was God’s will that I mutilate cats in my basement, you would call me a loon, and try to put me in jail.

But I myself am no different than any other man.

Only difference is that what I say is wrong, just because I don’t say these things in a church, wearing funky clothes.

My whole point then, is that religion is inherently wrong, because it is the work of man. Not a God. Whether the preaching is to love one another, or mutilate cats in your basement, on the most fundamental level, the message is the same. A message that is being made by a man, trying to force their interpretation of God’s Will into you.

Keep in mind that your condemnation of religion is actually only addressing traits of a fairly narrow selection of religions, overall. I don’t have any particular interest in whether or not you consider yourself religious, but I do tend to wince slightly when people start railing against categories when their issues are with specific subgroups.

For example, the whole “born into sin” notion isn’t even universal within Christianity; the Eastern branches of that faith don’t have that as a tenet. And part of the Protestant revolution was the shocking idea that people could form their own relationships with the divine, not requiring intermediaries; this concept, among those who take it seriously, tends to counterbalance any forcing of others’ messages onto people. (In fact, it’s a little-known doctrine of the Catholic church that if, after extensive study of the Bible and prayer, a Catholic truly believes that something contraindicated by dogma is not a sin, the Church does not gainsay that. If they’re wrong, they can settle it with God themselves.)

A number of the neopagan religions were founded in part on backlash against the concept of sexuality as an affront against the divine. As an example, Wicca has brought sexuality into the ritual and sacraments with the Great Rite.

Me, I’m a reconstructionist. I joined my temple in order to take advantage of the resources and expertise of other reconstructionists: people who can read and speak the languages that I do not, people who have studied a lot of the relevant historical materials and can suggest works that I could read in order to inform myself, people with more experience than I have, as well as one of the primary purposes of any organised religion – a community of people with shared context and shared referents, who don’t need to have the basic stuff explained to them.

Basically, I’m trying to suggest that you be careful with the width of your brush. :wink: