Disclaimer: I don’t mean to offend anyone, so I leave out specific religions and try to focus instead on the underlying principles.
One of my favorite things to do during a slow, late night is listen to music, drink a beer, and browse the web. Here is a quote that I stumbled across a few nights ago, as I was browsing r/agnostic on Reddit. [BTW – I want to take this moment to encourage everyone to read the rest of this post whilst listening to an El Ten Eleven radio station on Pandora]
“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.” – Unknown, often miss-attributed to Marcus Aurelius
I am not sure if I could sum up my beliefs in such an elegant manner, but I’ll attempt to.
I don’t like to label my religion because it is unique to me. I like to think that everyone is a little like this. Even if they follow a religion very closely, there are surely a few things here and there that don’t sit quite right with them. I have trouble believing that one questions nothing when learning to practice a religion.
Let’s consider a few things – there are a lot of religions out there (link to old site with neat graphic of major religions in world). Some of these religions claim their God (or Gods) is the only true one. So if religion A says that their God is the true one and religion B says that their God is the true one, then both can’t be correct. That means that religion A or B is wrong, right? I don’t necessarily think so. It is all a matter of perspective, in my opinion. How do you define God anyways? I have my (current, but seems to change often) definition of God, and it has a lot to do with the simple pleasures of life.
I have no problem with differing opinions. In fact, I really enjoy hearing about what other people believe, even though I might disagree completely :). But when people fight about religion, it makes me very unhappy. Isn’t life special enough for us to celebrate? Why do we need to be hostile over a few definitions? Is a definition or way of life enough to spill blood over? I don’t think so. And I believe it would be difficult to find a scenario in which there was a reason to be hostile with someone who was respecting your opinions.
In summary – I define my own religion because it makes me happy and I encourage everyone to figure out what makes them happy. You don’t have to accept something in a packaged box. Open the box, find the things you like, chunk the remains, and continue looking through other boxes. Live your life and respect others. Your ultimate judgement will be fair, regardless of the medium.
I’ve done my fair share of soul searching at times. That path lead me to some interesting places, so I would like to recommend some reading material (in order of shortest to longest length) for anyone who found the above quote and thoughts interesting.
- The Egg – Andy Weir
- God’s Debris: A Thought Experiment – Scott Adams
- Deconstructing God: A Heretic’s Case For Religion – Ian Gurvitz
What are your thoughts on defining your own religion?