The other day, I posted the following quotes on my Facebook and Twitter accounts:
“Religion should be like your genitals. Enjoy them, be proud of them, just keep them to yourself unless invited to share."
“If God knows what has passed and what is to come, like it states in the bible, why do people pray and think it will make any difference? ”
"Faith is believing what you know ain’t so." –Mark Twain
“When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called religion.” Robert Pirsig
“Faith does not give you the answers, it just stops you asking the questions.” – Frater Ravus
“You do not need the Bible to justify love, but no better tool has been invented to justify hate.” – Richard A. Weatherwax
“What’s God? Well, you know, when you want something really bad and you close your eyes and you wish for it? God’s the guy that ignores you. ”
“You will have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. ”
“To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today.” – Isaac Asimov
“We must question an all-knowing all-powerful God, who creates faulty Humans, and then blames them for his own mistakes.” – Gene Roddenberry
“What comedian designer configured the region between our legs–an entertainment complex built around a sewage system?” Neil deGrasse Tyson
"Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings." -Richard Stenger
"That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence" -Christopher Hitchens
One of my Facebook friends, who is also a real life friend, was obviously very upset by some of these quotes because she asked me, “What’s up with all the hate lately?”.
I was surprised by this, not because she took offense to some of these, because she is a very devout Christian, but by the idea that these quotes constitutes hate of any kind.
Hate is “Die fags!” or “I will be laughing when you are rotting in hell!” or “All Jews are Christ killers!”, things like that (all usually said, by the way, by Christians against other people, real people).
None of these quotes, as far as I can see, is aimed at anyone or any group of people with any malicious intent. These are all comments about religions in general, not about people.
It is normal to get defensive when your cherished beliefs are questioned, but so many people feel personally under attack when it is their beliefs, not themselves, that are being questioned. They don’t seem to be able to separate their belief from themselves. I completely understand this, having been in the same situation in the past, where I didn’t want to question what I believed. Maybe this is why I’m so intent on trying to get others to question their beliefs as well.
My wife asked me why I expect people to believe like me. I told her that I don’t, but I would like to see everyone question their own beliefs. When you try to find out why you believe what you believe, and you look study your beliefs, their history, the arguments for and against; once you’ve done all that, then the beliefs that you are left with are that much more valid and meaningful to you. Of course, there is a good chance that you may end up rejecting your cherished beliefs in the end, but if those beliefs are really true, then why be afraid of questioning them? And if they aren’t, then why be afraid of letting them go?
It’s hard. I know. I’ve forced myself all my life to question everything. For a while, I was so sure that what I believed was true, and so afraid that it wasn’t, that I refused to question it. During this time, my beliefs allowed me to justify intolerance of others, even hatred, an emotion that was completely foreign to me for most of my life. The wonder and joy of life had disappeared, replaced by visions of heaven in the next. It helped ruined my first marriage, and plunged me into a deep depression.
It was the trauma of my first marriage breaking up that tore me out of this. It was also seeing the intolerance in myself, and being horrified by it, that broke me out of my delusion and made me question those beliefs as well, as I had all my others throughout my life.
I know that this is a disjointed, rambling blog entry here, but after all I’ve been through the last few weeks, it is all I can manage to muster up.
I’ve said this before and I know that I’ll say it many times again: I support everyone’s right to believe in whatever they wish and to worship how every they want, or to not believe or worship if they so choose. They only restrictions is that they don’t infringe on the rights of others, they don’t incite intolerance and hate of others, and they don’t cause harm to others.
I don’t intend to upset or be harsh, but I do intend to try and make people stop and think; to question everything. True courage comes from facing our fears. This includes one of the greatest fears we all have: that of being wrong about a fundamental part of ourselves.
No one knows what happens when we die, therefore this life is all we can be sure of for certain. To waste it on hatred and fill it when anger is a crime of the highest order. Cherishing those around us; family, lovers, friends, neighbors, even strangers becomes so much more important when we think that we may never get another chance to share our love, kindness and mercy with others. Now is all we have to live and to love, to make a difference.