How did we, as humans, partition ourselves into groups labelled "religious affiliations", that convince ourselves to believe that we will one day be judged by whether we ate pork or went to a church every Sunday, rather than how we treated the next person?
In relating to others, how did religious affiliation take precedence over compassion and kindness and the qualities of being humane? Why do we so often seek to challenge the other person's religion? Are we not Christian, Muslim, Protestant, or whichever religion or denomination we go by only because we were born into these or chose these based on the influence of the society in which we are raised? As Christians, or Muslims, do we stop to think what our beliefs might have been if we were born into a Buddhist family or society? Do we realize they would have been completely different? So how dare we judge those actually born into these other societies for which this is a reality? How dare we, on this basis, decide who’s going to “heaven” or "hell"? How can we as Christians believe that only those who know and accept our Jesus will be saved? How about the millions born into atheist or societies with different predominant religions? Or those who just will never know? Do we really believe our God will leave them out just because they were not privileged to be born into our society or religion?
How did we, Christians, come to believe our God to be a judgmental figure feeding off our praise, apparently just waiting for us to falter to strike? If we had a ruler who told us to continuously tell or remind him how good he was, would we not consider him petty? What more of an all-powerful being with the power to flick us out of existence with a single thought? I wonder how our praises can be of any good to him. I wonder why (and doubt that) he would need us to tell him what (we think) he is.
I have lived in a society of people who are predominantly not Christian. Yet their culture teaches them to be good to one another. To care for the other person's feelings. And more often than not, they seem to be more thoughtful of others than us Christians who have it among our commandments to love our neighbour as ourselves. So aren't culture, ethics and education more important factors in how we relate to and treat each other hence how we are as human beings? Or is it rather religion over which we usually have little influence?
I do not see God as a white-bearded creature with a staff sitting on a throne. I see God in the beauty of autumn leaves. In the silence atop a mountain. In the moments of bliss when two people with different opinions peacefully agree to disagree. In the kindness of strangers. In the selfless act of donating to further a charitable cause. In mutual respect between opponents. And in a million miracles that we, as the human race, have collectively decided to term science.
I see prayer less as a means to talk to a god in the traditional sense, but as a dedicated endeavour to find a moment to connect with our inner being. Which coincidentally, is the definition of meditation. Yes, I believe they are the same thing.
I believe in religion as a set of laws originally meant to encourage people to be considerate of one another. To be caring and ethical in treating others. A set of standards to raise kids by, to encourage them to do what is right. I also believe that these laws have evolved, and often been modified to suit the whims and fancies of certain societies, contexts, and individuals. I believe at some point we need to stop and take a look back. To understand the basis of the teachings of our religions. Unchecked blind acceptance seems to only lead to strife and defensiveness against those who do not share our religion or point of view. And despite the similarities , we don’t realize that the origins and initial intentions might have been the same. We only see why what we have been born into and programmed to believe, is the correct way to go by. Because “it is written”. Or “it was said”. Despite everyone seemingly interpreting what was written in different ways according to situations in which they appear favorable.
I do not claim to have the answers. Nor do I trust people who claim to indisputably do. I just wonder.
Challenging the status-quo in technology is considered innovation. In religion, it’s considered opposition.