I know there'll be people sending me to hell after they read this article, and that's fine, as I don't believe in it anyway.
That's one thing many religious people don't get, and that is that one has to believe in it completely to have any of the usual threats actually have an impact on behavior.
I'm not a total Atheist, but for only one reason. I'll admit to some serious shortcomings in math and science, especially in advanced physics and quantum mechanics and the like, but I do remember one simple rule from basic science classes and that was that one can't get something from nothing.
If that's so, then I need a better explanation than anything I have yet to hear as to where the very first stuff came from. I mean, if the "Big Bang Theory" for the beginning of the universe is correct, I have to ask, "What banged"? So, without any other scientific answer to that one rule that leads to that one question, I guess I have to accept at least the possibility of some sort of Supreme Being. That being said, I don't believe anyone on this Earth is even close to having anything correct.
Despite the authoritative tones of the rich white men who routinely use television to explain to the rest of us what the Bible means, what the "word of God" is, I have to ask why there are so many different versions of all that from the exact same book? I mean, can there even be an interpretation of "The Word"?
I wouldn't think so. I mean, supreme is supreme. According to the Bible, especially the Old Testament, God used to talk to people all the time, without the help of those rich white guys in the thousand dollar suits. According to the Bible, he spoke to Moses, he spoke to Isaac, and he even gave very specific building plans to Noah for his Ark. Well, where'd he go? He doesn't seem to be around anymore, other than that 16-foot tall vision of Jesus that Oral Roberts saw telling him to raise money to build a new building on his campus or he'd die. Thankfully, Oral went public and his supporters gave him the money. Whew, a close one!
I'm astounded how different many versions of Christianity there are, and how all of them think the other ones are wrong. According to the Dictionary, Christianity is any religion based on the belief that Jesus is the Son of God and is based on his teachings. I hate to break this news to an awful lot of fundamentalist southerners but that includes Episcopalians, Methodists (not just the southern ones), and Presbyterians and even, God forbid, Catholics! The Catholic Church was supposedly founded by one of Jesus' main apostles, Peter, The Rock. If this is so, then why are Catholics so roundly despised in not only the south, but by others across the country who are in that more "fundamentalist" category, and referred to as, almost spitting the word, "Papists!" I don't get it.
The Bible says gays are an abomination. On this even the Catholics are in line. Yet what the Bible actually says is that "men shall not lie with men as a woman." Does that by omission mean that it's bad to be gay if you're a male but perfectly fine for females? It would appear that way. I'll need to check with a rich white guy in a suit.
Looking at all the main religions in the world, there is at least one thing in common with all of them, one charismatic man who designed a system of beliefs, grew a following and on it goes. This includes Islam as well as Mormonism. (Is Mormonism a word? Where's that guy in the suit when I need him. Oh, I forgot, I can call Mitt Romney; he's certainly rich enough.)
Anyway, all of those religions also have another thing in common, and that is their deeply seated belief that all of the others are going to each others version of Hell for their beliefs. Again, SOMEBODY has it wrong., apparently a LOT of somebody's. Even Islam is closely intertwined with many of the same people and events from the Bible that the Christians believe in, but then they diverge, hate and kill each other, all in the name of God. That hate was enough to fight a series of wars over decades referred to as The Crusades. An odd fact there is that same Catholic Church so despised by all of those other "true" Christians was the main sponsor of those wars against those blasphemers in efforts to recover "The Holy Land" and Jerusalem, the same exact territory claimed by ALL Christians even those that hate each other. Wow, I'm getting a headache on that one.
I'll admit that religion may have a good purpose in their efforts to advocate for decency and honesty. That of course would ignore the many, many awful deeds done in the name of those religions as well, things like the Inquisition. I have this to say about that, and that is that "The Golden Rule", that old "Do unto others ..." deal, is not in the Bible yet quite simply accomplishes all the good of the Ten Commandments, and without any rich guys in suits or funny hats having to explain to me what it means. And, I don't have to send anyone any money to do it.
I don't deny anyone the right to believe as they wish, but I do object strongly to religion being brought into play for politics and such, or education or general conduct. Science, really simple science, disproves almost anything in the Bible, the Quran or The Book of Mormon. If you read the Bible carefully, it doesn't allow for the existence of dinosaurs. Faith is a word often used to explain the belief in things that are physically not possible. That's OK with me, have all the faith you want to, but leave it at home, please, and out of public debate. Darwin's Theory might be a Theory, but it has a whole lot of science behind it relative to creation as the Bible states it, with Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden and all of that. (Have you ever asked yourselves whom Adam and Eve's children married?)
I write this column due to the public commentary from so many believers, mostly Christian, that brings God into the mix of public debate. There is no way any Christian religious belief can stand up to the most rudimentary scientific exploration, so why fight over it? Just keep your faith and beliefs in your church and home where they belong. Teach your own children whatever you wish, that's one of the great things about America, your right to do that. But the exclusionary part of most religions has no place in building a society of equals or in electing a government "of the people and by the people."
Those words clearly mean all of the people. Religions don't accept all people; they only accept people who believe as they do, the rest of us are going to Hell. I think religion has a lot to offer to a lot of people, and a lot of truly good things. But the minute your religion leaves your house and your church and tries to tell me (or anyone else) how to live my life, the good of it is gone.
In the words of the great Mr. King (Rodney, not Martin) "Can't we all just get along?"
Paul Christopher is a Dunkirk resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org