Friday, 25 June 2010

Frustration, Incredulity, Anger

It's been a while since my last post.  Too many pressing tasks got in the way. 
It's now several months since I started taking a more in depth look at religious motivation.  I had hoped to discover something that went some way to explaining why people still cling to religion in advanced democracies.  I have to admit to still being none the wiser.  It still seems to me that people embrace religion as a coping strategy, and as a way to feel a sense of community and purpose.  In this respect it is useful and helpful, but surely the cost in human misery as a result of the misuse of religious belief to oppress people is not worth it.
I hope that one day humans advance to the point that they can live without religion, and instead understand the World in which they live for what it is, not for what legends imply it could be.
I remain amazed that intelligent humans can be so wilfully blind to physical reality.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

The Golden Rule

Many religions include an exhortation to "do unto others as you would have done unto you" or some similar form of words.  This exhortation is also a fundamental part of being a Humanist.  This common theme from so many different cultures and religions must surely imply that it is essentially an idea created by humans, and not something passed down by "God"?

Examples of the ‘Golden Rule’ from around the world (Courtesy of BHA)

"He should treat all beings as he himself should be treated. The essence of right conduct is not to injure anyone." (JAINISM -from The Suta-Kritanga, about 550 BCE*)

"Do not do to others what you would not like for yourself."
(CONFUCIANISM - from The Analects of Confucius, about 500 BCE)

"I will act towards others exactly as I would act towards myself."
(BUDDHISM - from The Siglo-Vada Sutta, about 500 BCE)

"This is the sum of duty: Do nothing to others Which, if done to you, could cause you pain." (HINDUISM - from The Mahabharata, about 150 BCE)

"What you would avoid suffering yourself, seek not to impose on others." (ANCIENT GREECE - Epictetus, the Greek philosopher, about 90CE*)

"Love your neighbour as yourself." (JUDAISM / CHRISTIANITY - Leviticus 19, in The Torah, about 400 BCE, quoted by Jesus in Matthew 22 and Mark 12, 1st Century CE)

"What is harmful to yourself do not do to your fellow men. That is the whole of the law…" (JUDAISM - from Hillel: The Talmud, about 100 CE)

"None of you truly believes, until he wishes for his brothers what he wishes for himself." (ISLAM - a saying of The Prophet Muhammad, 7th Century CE)

"As you think of yourself, so think of others." (SIKHISM - from Guru Granth Sahib, 1604 CE)

One should be "contented with so much liberty against other men, as he would allow against himself." (GREAT BRITAIN - Thomas Hobbes, English philosopher, 1588-1679 CE)

Is there a point to any of this?

I thought I had come to terms with their being no point to all of this - That there was no higher purpose, no need to have more than that which we experience in the here and now.  Sometimes one could wish for something more.  But there is an unbridgeable gulf between wishing there to be more, and believing, knowing that there is.  Since thinking more deeply about what I believe and what I know, I have become ever more aware of how little of which I can be sure.
And yet one thing continues by turns to fascinate and annoy me - Why do apparently rational, intelligent and well educated people still believe in the Abrahamic God.  There is now so much evidence that explains why humans created this supernatural being, and the anthropological origins of the stories; and so many far more extraordinary tangible things we have now discovered about our existence that make this God look feeble by comparison.  And yet belief continues.  Is it the comfort, the tribal togetherness, the social status, or something else, or have have many humans really discovered something real that I cannot ever comprehend?  The apparent rough correlation between atheism and higher education would tend to make one think not.
And yet it still continues.
Puzzling to be sure....