Welcome to Friday! I’m sure by the time you read this you will have finished your long, arduous hours at work or school for the week. I recently began reading Metamorphoses by Ovid, which is basically an entire book of Greek myths (though they use the Roman names as he was a Roman guy). Which got me interested in thinking about belief and religion. I mean, at one point in time, this was accepted very widely as the truth about the world. Interesting how we have changed that thought. Another book I would recommend that you read to further your understanding in these areas would be Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: an Inquiry into Values by Robert M. Pirsig.
Now I know that this may be controversial for some people, and I want to preface this by saying that I don’t disagree with anybody’s beliefs or opinions. But I am an Atheist (please don’t try to convert me. I have spent quite a bit of time in my life contemplating the idea and the reality is that God is not remotely a part of my life or applicable to me in any way). I’m just putting that out there. I don’t try to impress upon anyone, it’s just my opinion on the matter. But suspending my opinion and allowing for the potential of a deity or several deities is the nature of being objective, so I will try my best to be fair and inoffensive about it.
In Pirsig’s book, there is significant discussion about Ghosts, and that a ghost is effectively something that is immaterial and invisible, but completely believed to exist. For example, scientists believe in certain laws that are observable, while others are not. In his book, Gravity becomes the object of scientific choice. The reality is that nobody can see gravity—they can see its effect on things, but “gravity” is just a word. If gravity is real, it has been present forever. Yet “gravity” has only existed for 400 some odd years, simply because nobody thought about it. It’s kind of like a tree falling in the woods with nobody around—does it really make a sound? Well, yes. There will be a sound. But no. Because nobody can observe it. So nobody is aware of it. Sound is dictated by people. Without a person, the sound will not be observed or registered by a person, and thus nobody will be able to recognize that the sound occurred. Weird paradox, right?
The same is true for religion. It takes belief for it to exist and carry weight. Set aside your beliefs for a moment and join me on a journey back to Ancient Greece. It was considered the pinnacle of intellect, the height of the world. And it believed that we had a flat, circular Earth with a landmass in the middle that was surrounded by water. The heavens above is where the gods resided, atop the famed Mount Olympus, and off the edges of the world and below it was the realm of Hades. Hence why it is called the “Underworld.” We now refer to these as myths. Travel even further back to about 1500 BCE and we have Zoroastrianism, the first monotheistic religion recorded. This, too, has fallen to the wayside in terms of popular accepted truth, in favor of Christianity and Islam.
Sure, these religions have succeeded quite a bit more than other religions in the past and have devised a bit more staying power, but in 2000 more years, do we really think that people will believe what we believe now? I mean, that’s undoubtedly what the Greeks thought, and the Zoroastrians too. I think, in reality, what the purpose of and reason for religion is to do something more than find truth. It is rather about finding a sense of peace.
When a person looks at life as consequence-less and meaningless, then it is easier to drift into the realms of chaotic behaviors. When I say “godless” it probably invokes some sense of mayhem and the color red in general. That doesn’t mean that people who lack belief in religion are chaotic or evil. It simply means that they have found this solace from something else. For me, I find it in logical deduction and general understandings about the world. Sometimes things don’t line up well for me. It’s not a test by God to me, but it is a test of my own resolution for what I believe in. There are other motivating factors in the world that effect people differently—and if someone want to justify their view of my life with religious rhetoric, that’s fine. That’s their belief. But please don’t be the kind of person to exclude my ideas in favor of their own without a respectful consideration of my own feelings. I know this happens quite a bit between Christian and Islamic people today. We don’t have to quarrel with each other as long as we realize that we all drink from the same cup. The reality is that even if we taste the water differently, as sweet, bland, sour, chemically balanced, or refreshing, it is still just water.