Thoughts on Religion

Philosophically, I am an Agnostic. I do not know if there is a god or gods in the universe. After all, how could I as a finite being discover an infinite being if it desired to remain hidden from me? So I won’t claim to Know the truth of such things.

But for practical purposes I am an Atheist. I live my day to day life as if there were no gods in the universe and were I to place a bet, I’d wager pretty strongly there are no gods and all the major religions who worship one or more are just the product of good old human imagination.

My primary reason why, intellectually, is just a lack of strong proof for the positive case. Every religion has their evidence, but I find it weak and fraught with wishful thinking and an abundance of perhaps misplaced trust. Having studied many of them, I find them all rather similar in their support, and since all but one must be wrong, its not much of a leap to simply conclude they likely all are.

I find the strongest arguments are for a general theism. And I can’t find deep fault in such lines of thinking. Its very possible that a universe could be created by some great cosmic will. But for starters if there is such a will, its certainly not jiving with most religious teachings. Most religions see the gods as having some kind of similarity to ourselves and this universe is not one made to order for us humans. I’d think if there were such a god, he would be distant and alien to us for the most part, more a grand neutral creator for the sake of creation, more artist than father figure.

None the less I respect religion and the people that practice it, or at least those who do so in a way that doesn’t clash with my moral viewpoint or force a confrontation about it. Religion makes a lot of people feel fulfilled and at peace, and who am I to argue against that? And the art and architecture that religious motivation has produced are some of mankind’s most lasting wonders. There are  people who do horror in the name of faith, but like any, they are the smaller minority of mankind, and likely would do evil no matter what brand they decided to justify it with.

While  I think religion is a human invention, I think it is a powerful one that has served us to more good than ill. I would rather work to see religion tempered and diluted of its more vitriolic beliefs, than to simply try and wipe it out. We use our minds to invent things to make our lives better and I think for the most part religion does make the lives of many better.

I like to debate religion, partly to seek the truth, partly to express my ideas, and partly to try and influence people with my own moral views. But I try not to start arguments about religion unless someone is actively looking for such a discussion, or they are in some way using it to act in a way I find objectionable.

I feel almost a little shame that my beliefs by necessity say that others are wrong. But I hope that we can all agree seeking the truth is good, and to do that we must have a conflict of ideas, and that when we do that, we can still be fellow human beings and allies in the struggle to live a good life.

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