My Skepticism on Religion

True Religion adMy take on Religion, God, and Spirituality has changed over the years. Although I grew up like many in my part of the world, in the traditional Christianity, I no longer claim that title as my Religion.

When I was a kid, if I wanted something from on a top shelf I had to ask someone to get it or scoot a chair to reach it. Our cereal was on top of the refrigerator. Guess what I wanted. I was so excited when I finally could reach the top of the refrigerator without using a step-stool or asking for help. It was a milestone for me. This is how I see religion. Not that we can physically touch any god on our own, but that we can approach the spirit without tradition or allegories.

Face to face. In our infancy and childhood we learn stories to help us understand. The birds and the bees teach us about reproduction. Apples and oranges teach us math. Religion teaches us about God. Whether God is worshiped, feared, deified or loved, we learned from the teachings of our religion. Growing up in a very closed-minded religion taught me that my thoughts were not to be trusted. That whatever I thought was true probably wasn’t. Maybe not everyone’s religion does that, but for me that was what happened.

Religion was the highest power. The highest authority. Even more so than personal experience. It doesn’t matter if God or an angel came down to talk to you, it was not trusted above the unchanging dogma of our religion. Even if you found it in the Bible, underlined it in red, circled it, highlighted with glowing color, if it didn’t match what you were taught as truth, it was a trick of the enemy. Don’t let anyone fool you. I grew up in this stuff and I’ve argued it and studied it. If it wasn’t taught in the dogma, it is a lie.

When religion tells me to ignore those things I see around me such as science discoveries, cultural issues, or astronomy, it is basically telling me to ignore factual evidence. Ignore the truth and just believe. To the point that those people with the greatest faith ignored the most obvious laws such as gravity or chemistry. Yes I do know there are things I don’t understand. And I will admit there are times when someone seemingly did amazing metaphysical, supernatural things. Water turned to wine. Water turned to gasoline.

It is amazing to me that when we look at other cultures and religions that we can see through the veil. It is also amazing that whichever religion you deem as true, is probably the religion you were born and raised in. It was passed from your parents and their parents. Tell me truly, do you believe that your grandparents way of living was the only way? Was Grandma’s superstitious beliefs how you want to live your life? Is it spilled salt over your left shoulder or your right? There are some strange superstitions around the world. The conviction of belief does not make them true. It just makes them believed.

In Russia, its considered bad luck when a cat, especially a black one, crosses in front of you when you’re walking. Some people will avoid them by chasing out or outrun the cat.
If the cat already crosses you, then you have to break the spell by spitting three times over your left shoulder to avoid the bad luck.

In England, it is believed that meeting a spotted or black and white dog on the way to a business appointment is a lucky sign.

In Sweden, it is considered bad luck to place your keys on the table. In the old days, it it believed that prostitutes will often signal their availability by leaving their room keys on the bar.

http://worldsuperstitions.blogspot.com/search/label/Bad%20Luck

I love this short piece I found while reading various blogs, http://wyzzz.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/choices-religion/.

Also, It’s not about the Colors and There is no Savior

Advertisements

Is it Judging?

I was a naive child. Usually playing on the playground with the same group of kids every day. We’d played games like tag or tangle. But one day I was playing in the dirt with a different group of kids. And then there was “Dee,” obviously not her real name. She said open your mouth and close your eyes and I’ll give you a big surprise. Suspiciously I asked if she was going to put something in my mouth. Of course not she said. Okay, silly person that I was, I opened my mouth. Guess what? I got dirt in my mouth. I spit and sprayed while grabbing dirt to throw on her. She was long gone laughing all the way. I need to find her and thank her for a lesson that should have been well learned. You know the lesson, don’t believe everything you’re told. People lie. Be skeptical.

I grew up in an honest home. My parents are upfront, trustworthy, salt of the earth people. You could hand them your entire life savings and when you returned to pick it up, you’d get it all back. My mom would drive back across town to return a penny if she was given too much change. Of course it’s also true that if you did them wrong by trying to cheat or harm them, they will never darken your door again. So I didn’t know deceit. Elementary school was a wake up for me. It was my first experience with lying and cheating.

I’ve learned. I can make better judgement calls now and more so as I get older. I try to discern if they are intending to scam me or if they are honest. What I’m uncertain about is if there is a difference between discerning and judging. I looked the words up online since I’ve always thought there was a difference. Judging was something the Sunday school teacher taught that we shouldn’t do. And it was left with that. No talk about it’s okay to decide to avoid people who appeared dangerous, just Don’t Judge. Judging is wrong. Which left us good little girls in a bad situation. If you prevent judgement in all cases then we don’t have any defense to prevent rape, murder, or any other harm. Surely that’s not what they meant. But God protected us. Where was he when the girl put dirt in my mouth or when some boy was pressuring us into sex? Did we have the right to say no?

Being good and subservient does not go well with standing up for your rights. At the same time purity was taught. If you don’t understand the dilemma I completely understand. I’m not sure I do either. There were very few secrets from the all-knowing God or the pastor that God spoke to continually. He knew every evil thought and every judgement you made about another.

Today, I hate and despise these ideals. I don’t believe kids need to sit down and shut up. I also believe they need to learn how to decide. I say eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Eat often. Learn, decide, choose, and be skeptical. We were not meant to be sheep thrown out into the pasture with wolves and dogs. I was unprepared for life and I know that I was not alone. It was a sad trick someone played on us. Dressed up in our frilly pink dresses, we were told to go outside and play, but don’t get dirty.

Maybe I’m just angry. I was powerless and told it was right. Any power I had felt wrong. I worried for years that someone would find out and reprimand me. NO MORE. I’ve worked very hard in my life for freedom. To have the right to discern and judge for myself. I now decide if something is good for me or will do me harm. It’s not based on anyone else’s ideal, only my own well-being. And it feels right.

There are other words. Maybe you can tell if there is a difference.

Discern – discriminate, distinguish, differentiate, separate, contrast

Judge – examine, determine, evaluate, figure out, inspect, interpret

Skeptical – cautious, suspicious, leery, unconvinced, not following

Certainty

How would you act if you didn’t know? If you can’t make a decision or nothing seems right? I don’t know about you, but that’s when I often panic. It hits me like a knife in my belly. My first reaction is to shut down. But that’s not going to help.

I’ve been searching through religion information a lot lately. I’m now to the point of not knowing what my beliefs are. Well I’ve been there actually which is why I was searching. I keep trying on different beliefs to see if they fit. So far none seem right. So I’m at a standoff with my own beliefs. I’m not quite sure what it is I do believe. And somewhere in my head I keep thinking I need to name it something. Doesn’t it need to be categorized? I’ve stopped trying to label it now and am just enjoying the learning experience.

It’s funny how beliefs seem like absolute truth at times. I’ve given up my childhood faith of heaven and hell but I’m not quite certain about life after death. While listening to several atheists such as Christopher Hitchens, Seth Andrews and Richard Dawkins, I felt a sense of loss. They don’t believe in any afterlife at all. After questioning myself I decided I didn’t want to give up my belief in life after death since it felt too disappointing not to believe. This made me laugh. Since when does my belief or their lack of belief make anything so. I could believe in a land of magical clouds and pink butterflies after death and it wouldn’t change what will really happen or not happen.

We spend most of our lives deciding. Big things. Little things. We choose what to eat, what to wear, where to work. Most of us try our best to do what we consider the right thing. We pick out food that’s good for us and for our family. At least we try. We teach our kids what they need to know for their daily lives, well, again we try. Sometimes life gives us a bump or a shove and we find out that what we thought was the best thing for our children or our health was all wrong. There are times that life slams it down on you so hard you don’t know what hit you. For instance, my former mother-in-law died recently. Complications from breast cancer. She had the biopsy. She took the treatments. She rested and she was getting better. Until. Until the cancer came back and she started treatments again. This time the treatments made her weak.. And suddenly you get the call you least expect.  Her kidneys failed. She was better. How did this happen?

What do you do when you don’t know for certain that you are doing the right thing? How do you handle it? Do you slow down and consider it more? Do you just keep going until it hits you in the face?

My recent reevaluation of my childhood faith has me reeling. I feel like I’ve been awakened from a dream. It is a dream, right? How did I believe those untruths? Ironically, my current doubt comes from the fact that I was so certain before. I knew that I knew that I knew. Truth. Absolute certainty.

It shakes us, but we don’t quit. We keep making decisions and we keep getting up. Because we are alive, we dust ourselves off and choose another direction. It’s not always that we make all great choices. Success comes because we keep making choices. We don’t always have the odds in our favor but as one poker player said, it’s about winning enough of the time. 

Are you sure-radiolab

It’s not about winning the hand all the time, but about winning the hand enough of the time. -Annie Duke http://www.radiolab.org/2013/mar/26/dealing-doubt/

There’s an intriguing story about a woman who incorrectly identified her attacker. It convicted and sentenced an innocent man for a crime he never committed. She was certain it was him. In her words, What do I do? I can’t make this right. – Penny Beerntsen http://www.radiolab.org/2013/mar/26/reasonable-doubt/

In the Buddhist mind, it’s not only alright to have doubt, but it’s commended and desired to not have any knowing. In the Quantum physics field it is known that a particle doesn’t become a particle until it is observed. Or so I heard.

I wonder sometimes if it might be better stay uncertain, to not form a fixed belief. And if you do have a belief or a judgement, to keep it not so solid. Let it flow and change as time goes on. So I wonder, is it better to have a religion, a belief? Or is it better to explore the possibilities?

On Having No Head http://www.amazon.com/Having-No-Head-Rediscovery-Obvious/dp/1878019198

Don’t Let Go of My Hand

Hold my hand and take me away
Hold my hand and take me away (Photo credit: (davide))

From the depths of my heart. Truly.

Oh I’m hoping you’ll understand and not let go of my hand.  – In For the Kill, La Roux.

I love music. I have no talent whatsoever, but I can listen as well as the next person. The lyrics catch me completely off guard sometimes.

We are a species who love stories. Movies, books, plays. It doesn’t matter what form it is. We can relate. And once the story has wrapped itself around us, it can jolt us. Even linger in our minds, when another person could have said the same thing to us and we would have walked away wondering what they were talking about.

Sometimes when I’m in a conversation, I have to remind myself to stay quiet and listen to the other person. I really don’t want to cut in or stop them talking. I just want to relate. This song is one that caught me off guard. The lyrics, the voice, and the story. Isn’t this what we all want?

We want someone to listen and understand. And not let go of us. Hear me, they cry. Please stay with me. There was a suicide recently at a local school. It’s hard for us to understand how a teenager can have a troubled life. Like illness and disease though, emotional pain does not know age or wealth as a dividing line. It does not respect you just because you are a good person or a pretty person. Suicide doesn’t only come because someone has a difficult circumstance. Suicide is an out for pain also. And when you are in pain all you can think of is stopping it. It’s the irritating ticking noise inside someones head that never ends. They see no solution.

I don’t know the child’s story or the family’s. All I know is that I am sorry. So sorry for their loss. And I hope that there is someone nearby who will understand and not let go of their hand.