I am actually a rather religious person. When I need it and look for it, I seem to be able to find a source of strength. Also, the Quaker maxim "Look for the light within" has never let me down when I have had the courage to apply it. I have had a rich and fortunate life - not easy, but I keep falling on my feet without deserving it. I ascribe this to luck and an enlightened upbringing rather than Divine intervention.
There are many many more deserving people whose lives are hell - a benevolent and proactive God should do something for them. However, I have seen no credible evidence for the Judeao-Christian-Muslim deity. I have strong philosophical objections to all of these creeds. What kind of Father would want to be worshipped by His children anyway? I particularly despise people in Western society who brainwash their children, especially those who teach them that a loving and compassionate God will happily torture unbelievers for eternity in Hell! Surely this is a perverse and pernicious form of child abuse? So many people "know" that their particular belief system is the correct one. However, all their diverse faiths are, in part at least, mutually contradictory; therefore most if not all of these people are deluding themselves.
All organised religions (including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Nazism and atheistic Marxism) have been the cause of, or a figleaf for, genocide, ethnic cleansing, war and other evil. I have yet to meet anyone who thinks they are worthy to preach who is not a blinkered hypocrite. In particular many so-called "born again" Christians, seem obsessed with money and power too - never mind camels and eyes of needles! I am amazed how so many professed Christians manage so brazenly to ignore major parts of the Gospels which are inconvenient to them. If you are wondering whether I mean you, I probably do!
Have you noticed how greedy people get when it comes to money they haven't earned? One particulartly nauseating example was the lay preacher who paid me an unwanted visit the day after my mother died. Instead of comforting me, he harangued me about the evils of inheritance tax - how was he (he asked me) going to afford £50k tax when his parents' house was sold and the proceeds divided? I'm glad to say that his mum and dad (who are lovely) are still alive. If I believed in cargo cult religion I would pray for a house price collapse to solve his problem and benefit needy and hard-working first time buyers!
I also have utter contempt for educated people who are so afraid of uncertainty that they reject overwhelming scientific evidence for evolution because they think it conflicts with the written Word. A man in a car-park saw my "evolve" emblem once, and decided to give me a tract he conveniently had with him in his car. I asked him, if we found an advanced civilisation on another planet, with its own religions and philosophies, would he send the missionaries out? "Yes" he replied primly - "if that world were as sinful as this one!" His view of the universe was fixed, no matter what the evidence or circumstances. Given limitations of intellect, knowledge etc, how can any human-written book or prophet be the source of absolute truth about the meaning of life? Was God going to give his messengers of previous ages a crash course in nuclear physics and biology before sending his enlightenment?
If there be a God, then, presumably, he/she/it has chosen not to take personal command for some reason? Maybe It (I doubt it has any of the biological attributes which determine our gender) keeps deliberately hidden in order to let us excercise our free will and let us find our own way, or perhaps we specks of dust are simply not important enough in the grand scheme of things? Maybe our purpose is to try and climb out of the primaeval slime as best we can? I'll accept that challenge - for me and mine!
I have met many decent people whose religion is part of their decency, but who don't assume that those not like them have something lacking. I do accept that religion can also provide social cohesion in a family and community - unfortunately this may also lead to clan or tribal conflict and warfare - not to speak of inbreeding and genetic impoverishment - look at the health problems caused by the practice of first-cousin marriage in certain communties. I'm sorry if you think this essay is somewhat rude - but having taken a theology subsidiary at university I am interested in debating the issues, and I really do try to be polite when I meet people in person - I really don't see why the Jehovah's Witnesses seem to scurry past my house without calling any more. However, you wouldn't have clicked on this link if you didn't want to know what I really feel. So, here goes: if, having removed the beamfrom your own eye, you want to preach at me and convert me to your ludicrous "certainties", I respectfully refer you to the defendant's reply in the legal case of Arkell v Pressdram and advise you to get a life! Also....
....DON'T come and visit me!!!!
Music: The Rhythm of Life, sung by Tenby Male Choir, conducted by Christine Shewry.