May 17, 2012
What does religion mean to you? To me, nothing. I don’t think about God, though I’m open to the idea that higher forms of intelligence, far more intelligent than us, may well live in the universe. Those beings may well be so powerful that we could only describe them as God-like. Then again, we have no evidence that these beings exist, so my thoughts on the matter pretty much end there. If they or It exists, we’re not likely to be the center of Its attention, and I won’t lose sleep worrying that It plans to throw me in hell over how I conduct myself in this life. I live morally not out of fear of punishment but out of love for those around me. Threatening people with hell is just fear-mongering and control.
I don’t spend much if any time reading holy books. I don’t think or worry about those sorts of things. I’m open to spirituality, if by that you mean physical and emotional well being. I’m not against meditation, though I don’t really do it myself. All in all, I’m a thinking person and I try to live up to a standard which demands evidence and well thought out arguments before adhering to something. Otherwise I just say, “I don’t know.” I don’t see blind faith as a virtue. I think all human knowledge is probabilistic in nature and some things I feel more sure of than others. I’m not certain of anything. My life is pretty much lived according to this same scientific method Richard Feynman advocates in this video. At least I try to, as best I can.
The best word to describe myself would be agnostic. I try to learn more about the world and look for explanations which have a firmer rooting in reality. More objective. More certain. Overall though, the more I learn, the more I realize how little I do know. It’s strange that you have to learn how stupid you are, but it’s true. It takes a lot of education just to learn about all the things you don’t know.
I see atheists, skeptics, and humanists and oftentimes agree with the things they say, but I don’t share their religious like passion. They often say that there’s no reason to respect people’s religious beliefs because religion hasn’t earned it. Well, I try to respect people’s beliefs as much as possible. The older I get, the more important that is to me. I get tired of all the fighting, hatred, and insults. Not everyone’s at the same stage in life. Realizing that is very important. I don’t want to lay the “hippy bullshit” on too thick, but I even look at my own life and how I was raised very religiously, and I believed some silly things when I was young. Looking back, if one of these strident atheists had came up to me and insulted me, and tried to tear me down because of my Christian beliefs, what good would that have done anybody? It would’ve insulted me, making me feel bad about myself. It would’ve made me less receptive to any further arguments on the issues. It would’ve made me more combative and gave me a desire to sink inward, feeling as if the world is evil and I was being persecuted for my beliefs. Who wants to live in that kind of a society? Even more importantly, it’s easy to ridicule someone’s beliefs when you hate them. It’s much harder to do that when you love and respect the person you’re speaking to. We need to love and respect each other. Dealing with someone’s most cherished beliefs needs to be carefully handled.
This video of Neil Degrasse Tyson sums up what I think.