Another reason why I consider myself agnostic

20 05 2005

A lot of thought regarding my own personal belief structures has been rattling around in my head for the last year or two. Perhaps a lot of it has to do with what I see as the ascendancy of the radical religious view, and how somehow the concept of ‘spirituality’ has been perverted into a political cause. To me spirituality is a deeply personal, internal, and individualistic thing. When attempts are made to codify, organize, and publish those thoughts as dogma, I believe it damages, if not destroys those paths that an individual is following.
Organized religion, or even just the term ‘religion’, in it’s many forms, I feel is anathema to this process of self-examination and growing. Why is it that organizations feel that they must structure a persons individual growth, and if you do it ‘wrong’, somehow you are ‘bad’.
Now before I get everyone in an uproar, the immediate reaction by those who practice religion in whatever form tends to be “Wait, _I_ dont’ practice religion that way!” or “My faith doesn’t believe that!” I say to them then “Then why are you practicing a religion?”
Seriously though, take a look at that. A religion is an attempt to explain things that may not be understandable or clear to a person existing in the world. In the Good Old Days, religion was all powerful because the world was not well understood. Modern day, however, the average layman can tell you what an Atom is, and that the earth goes around the sun. So why do we need to make up stories about old men up in the sky to explain the world around us?
What set me off on this was not only the ongoing idiocy by the Creationists in the US government, in particular the absurd drive by the radical right to tear down the concept of evolution as it’s being taught in the schools. There’s a wonderful commentary from the American Association of Physics Teachers:

Evolution and cosmology represent two of the unifying concepts of modern science. There are few scientific theories more firmly supported by observations than these: Biological evolution has occurred and new species have arisen over time, life on Earth originated more than a billion years ago, and most stars are at least several billion years old. Overwhelming evidence comes from diverse sources – the structure and function of DNA, geological analysis of rocks, paleontological studies of fossils, telescopic observations of distant stars and galaxies – and no serious scientist questions these claims. We do our children a grave disservice if we remove from their education an exposure to firm scientific evidence supporting principles that significantly shape our understanding of the world in which we live.

I do not say that folks should not have the right to organize to observe their beliefs. Observation is one thing, but brainwashing and political activism to expand the power of those religious organizations is obscene.
In doing some of my research, I came upon some commentary by one of the more powerful religious organizations, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, otherwise known as the Mormons. This is a huge, wealthy, and powerful organization. The Mormons are noted for their high secrecy, but there are several very good sources for insight into the practices this organization condones. In particular, I refer to the Ex-Mormons Archiva. The articles that drove me to post here refer to the ‘Apache Tears’ episode (see down further on that page). This is an organization entrusted with small children, and they inflict this level of trauma on them. On top of that is the doctrine of “Death before Rape”, which seems to be norm. “You got raped? You must not have fought hard enough, you’re still alive.”
This is just one example of my total disdain for virtually all forms of organized religion. I feel that we as human beings are in no position to decide what is right or what is wrong (if there is such a thing), and even beyond that, we are in no position to define that viewpoint to others. Who are we to know? The old maxim “There is no truth” still holds. (For more entertaining reading, apparently even that statement is false. Another example of self delusional double-think.)
Agnosticism. “We just don’t know.”

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One response

24 05 2005
Liz

I’m understand that you are bothered by the idocy of creationists, I am too. I too am concerned with the rise of fundamentalism–an American product, I might add–exported to a variety of religious products.
But how does that expand into a rant against religion, instead of against creationism and fundamentalism? Somehow an example of bad mormons seems odd proof that organized religion is evil. Hindus everywhere would wonder what are your sources.
First, spirituality isn’t about self-improvement, its about connection with something outside oneself–God or gods, spirit or earth, goodwill in people perhaps, or universal beauty. Spirituality is a relational concept, not an individual one.
Religion, of course, didn’t even know what individualism was until the enlightenment, and religion’s effort to be individual has had mostly bad results, like fundamentalism. Religion is about community.
Community, unfortunately, requires that we relate to one another, and once we do that we create rules (intentionally and unintentionally) for relating. People who follow the rules are in, those who cross the line are out. Much as been studied about how firm those lines are–new religions tend to draw them more tightly, older religions relax them, duing periods of perceived attack they are tightened again. These patterns apply, of course, to all groups, not just, or even primarly, to religions. A group where I see this played out most clearly is my cohousing group.
So join some groups, Dave, and observe their behaviors creating and breaking down rules. But don’t blame all that on religion.
-liz




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