Sunday, 16 January 2011

Why am I fascinated by Religion?

Why do I bother?  I don't believe a word of it, and yet I am fascinated by it.  I witness apparently rational and intelligent humans willingly suspend reality and chose to find truth and meaning in comforting myths.  Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings' is more consistent and plausible than most of the Holy books, and yet it does not have the pedigree.  Seems age and 'otherworldliness' is more compelling, even though there is so little worthwhile in those Holy books other than restatements of Humanist truths and ways to lead one's life, dressed up in a supernatural cloak - I guess that offers a stronger reason for some to obey the ethical imperatives outlined therein.

More than that: they acquire faith that these myths are real, and that there is an unknowable creator and overseer who must be worshipped, even though worshipping appears to be a placebo that offers no tangible benefits except to reserve a place in a mythical yet comforting state of eternal bliss. 

I keep thinking that I must be missing some vital part of the picture.  I do not choose not to believe as if I had the option to believe.  I used to believe, but that was out of laziness and a desire (even a necessity) to conform.  Now, as every year passes, I become yet more certain that all organised religions promote a myth that satisfies people's desires to lead, or be led, for some purpose that cannot be disproved - for the very reason that is is irrational and outside all that we know within the natural Universe.

Is it more of a kind of club to give hope to the dispossessed or superstitious, and to allow religious leaders to earn a living away from the squalid reality of the shop floor or salesroom, whilst making a virtue out of frugality.

And as science increasingly removes mystery, there seems to be an ever growing desire by ultra-religious people to find scientific proofs for things that neither need nor warrant scientific proofs.  If you believe in a supernatural force able to defy the natural laws why is it important to find natural proofs for events?  At its most barmy are searches for the Ark and the creationist museums, but even the more sane and rational believers indulge in finding proofs for the existence of God. It staggers me that intelligent people still quote Aquinas or Descartes in support of God's existence, even though their proofs have since been conclusively destroyed by generations of philosophers.

I am trying to imagine a World without any religion at all - No beliefs by any human in anything but what is real, what is tangible and provable.  I'm reminded of that old aphorism, "If there was no God we would have to invent one"  Which is what I think we've done - or rather different groups have invented or adapted
different Gods, to better suit their environment or culture.  As an outsider to religion it seems so very obvious that religion is very much man-made, but will we ever convince those who rely on their faith to make their lives bearable and to give them meaning?  I doubt it. Whilst we do not teach humanist ethics and morality to children, and whilst we allow adults to keep indoctrinating their children in their own faith it will not go away.  So instead we have to accept that religion will always be with us, like rain - in turns a life giving and a destructive force.  I guess we are all somewhere on the scale of sanity/madness.  Seems to me

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