Wednesday, September 27, 2006

More on Religion

The discussion of religion continues amongst my group of Marine Corps friends. It's interesting to read what people share about their faith and their spirituality, and I do make a conscious decision to respect everyone's opinions.

Beyond the safety and openness of these online friends, though, the discussion of religion and spirituality is usually more divisive and polarizing. People need to believe that they are right, and any flexibility or concession to another's beliefs is viewed as a sacrilege.

A friend sent me this quote, and it has long been one of my favorites:

I contend that we are both atheists, I just believe in one less god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all other possible gods, then you will know why I dismiss yours.

Stephen F. Roberts

While I subscribe to the more typically agnostic view of things spiritual, I understand exactly where this quote is directed. One of the primary tenants of an organized religion is its superior attitude towards any other. And the proof of this superiority? The same documents accepted on faith as part of the religion.

For example, for most Christians, the Bible is the Word of God. As such, we should believe everything that is written in it. And how do we know it is the Word of God? Because it says so. One truth is based on the other and vice-versa. Now, I don't presume to tell Christians that they are wrong. I am just bothered that they feel the need to tell non-Christians that they are wrong. I do understand that witnessing is a part of their religion, though. So it's a no-win for me. I want to respect their beliefs, but does doing so mean I am obligated to listen to their preaching?

I hold the same thoughts about other religions. They act as if only they have the answers. None of them will concede that we may not have any clue at all. And their arrogance fuels their actions. Those who don't agree with them are somehow less and should be treated as such.

I don't know the answers. I believe that there are people of all religious and spiritual walks of life that contribute to the overall joy of my existence. They give to their fellow man, they treat others with respect and kindness, and they make the world a better place. I choose to believe that, regardless of which religious belief turns out to be correct, the actions of a man say far more about a man's convictions than do his words.

Discussing this with a buddy, he offered his own opinion. It was so succinct, so simple, and so mirroring of my own that I had to add it here to this post.
We're all searching the Light. I don't think that Light is all under one roof, or even under any roof, so to speak.
As for me, I will hold to the Unitarian Universalists. They believe that "service is our prayer," and it is through our actions on this earth that we are best able to honor creation. Be it from science, magic, or divine intervention, we are here for a time and should make the most of it by giving, loving, and accepting.

(Of course, as a proud American and former Active Duty Marine, I also believe that I must be willing to fight when necessary to defend my right to worship as I please. But that is another discussion.)