Essays &Philosophy 07 Sep 2001 06:00:06

Do You Believe What I Believe?

An essay about my feelings towards religions. This was originally written for a Danish class, but I wrote it in English and subsequently translated it as the idea of writing such an essay had been on my mind for a while.

I am angry. I am actually furious. At who? So called religions; institutionalized systems grounded in, and with reverence for, a supernatural power regarded as creator of the universe. I am angry that people kill, rage, ravage and plunder in the name of a supreme being. That they slaughter others for their god is for the most part against the holy scriptures, so they act for their own will, sake and beliefs, and not their respective god. That they kill themselves, well, that is plain fanaticism, and being fanatic is bad, regardless. They may achieve a certain martyrdom, but what’s good being a martyr when you are dead? You certainly won’t serve your god any longer. Another trait showing fanaticism is that no matter how good arguments you have against their ‘holy actions’ they won’t stop, even if they agree it’s basically wrong, because they must serve the gods will. Of course not all are fanatics, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t in error either.

Churches, synagogues, mosques, temple and the likes; houses of the ‘God’. These buildings today hold the common sense that it’s where you are nearer your god. What a load of manure, to say the least. Why would a supreme being, creator of the universe, ever consider a pile of rocks to be more worthy their presence than, say, my pocket? A supreme being is omnipresent, everywhere all the time, so there wouldn’t be more of ‘God’ just because you walk through some big fancy gates; you can’t exactly lock up your god or its essence. People worship their god in these houses, or do they? I say they actually worship the altar, the figurine and the book; the things they can see in front of them. They might once have truly believed, but at some point they can’t believe without having their symbols of their deity around them. That is weakness of mind.

I am disappointed. I am actually aghast. Yes, with the same religions as before. Some places it has gone so far that people are brainwashed into a stupor and are imprinted with a ‘truth’ that’s very far from this world. These poor souls I pity more than I do others. They are deprived all options of advancing technologically and of extending their knowledge. They are blinded by belief. Belief so strong that it is their truth. That’s not all, though. They bring the same blindness unto their children, and they never consider the possibility that maybe the child should have a better life than they should; it’s just passing on the strict code of behavior and thoughts.

The same blind people have a tendency to seclude themselves from any ‘infidel’ or ‘heathen’, meaning everyone but their own closed circle of max a thousand ‘true’ believers. They will not accept help from outside their circle, and they will not accept anyone leaving the circle. Blind and deaf, what a loss of minds and a waste of time. A twist to this blindness is that the few who are, against odds, broken from their rock solid belief, and shown they have been wrong all along, are devastated to the core of their being. All they have lived for was a lie. I’d not wish that to be the case for my worst enemy.

In a vastly different neighborhood we see people elevating themselves to supreme humans or even gods. How dare they? How can a mortal man ever consider him or herself to be so much more than their fellow humans? Some do it for fame, others for money; both quite good reasons. The rest do it because they actually believe themselves to be supreme. And they are proven wrong time and time again, mostly by a bullet.

I am glad. I am actually thrilled. Still at these religions. It provides some people with great strength to get through the day, and to perform extraordinary good deeds to please their god and secure their place in the afterlife. Religions have a code of honor and a code of solidarity. The followers are expected to behave nicely and show an outwards good image in order to attract more subjects. Some religions also require people to help others, even others of different beliefs. This is all good.

Another thing is that if enough share a religion or belief, then they share a bond. They can go everywhere in the world, meet any race of person, but if they at least believe in the same god then they stand together against the, in some cases hostile, world around them. The unfortunate side effect of this is that these small groups of equal-minded will be secluded by the established society around them.

I am sad. I am actually dismayed. Religions. The negative side of religions can be avoided, and the positive side can be attained without ever believing in any supreme being or creator. Which brings me on to the final aspect: Every human being alive today has its own vision of what exactly ‘God’ is. We all have somehow pieced together a personal religion from other religions and systems of belief. Since no one actually believes the exact same thing, all religions are false.

16 Responses to “Do You Believe What I Believe?”

  1. on 06 Jan 2003 at 23:09:56 1.Shortysk8er3287 said …

    i am christian, and i can kind of see where u are going with that essay, however, explain to me this. the very proof of kindness is proof of a higher being.. notice how people have a conscience, we know right from wrong. that is one of the few things that separates mammals from humans… above all else, where could we possibly get a conscience? even when u are young and noone has taught u yet, u still know that stealing something is bad…. just a thought.

  2. on 07 Jan 2003 at 00:19:48 2.Tino Didriksen said …

    A conscience is indeed remarkable, but you’ll find that young ones do not know it is wrong to take anything in their path. They learn that it is wrong quickly, though.

    And your comparison with animals is not entirely true either. If you observe groups of animals, mainly those who gather items, and one claims an item for it’s own in some way (threathening gestures) then that will be respected.
    This is the exact same way humans learn it; mother or father says “NO” harshly, some even slap the hand.

    Basically, there is nothing fundamental that seperates humans from the other mammals. Some just like to think there is, in order to justify our behavior.

    An infants version of Right/Wrong goes basically like this:
    – Is my current action good for the immediate survival of myself and my pack? If so, then it is Right.
    – Does my current action harm myself or my pack? If so, then it is Wrong.
    These are instinctive thoughts, the underlying power of any animal.

    Even some of the things we call kindness, like taking care of someone who is injured, can be observed in animals. But only if it is ultimately good for the self or the pack.
    A minor injury will be tended amongst animals capable of it, while a major injury will cause the member to be excluded because it endangers the pack.

    Humans do this as well. People with unrecoverable illnesses, such as mentally ill, are safely kept from endangering the rest of society.

    Well, enough rambling, you get the point: Humans are animals, down to the last cell. We do not seperate us from other mammals.

  3. on 07 Jan 2003 at 00:22:48 3.Shortysk8er3287 said …

    but is it wrong to hope that there is something after death? it scares the shit out of me to think that we are just nothing for eternity… that alone would keep me religious, don’t get me wrong im not a prude or anything, but just nothing after death scares me to death!

  4. on 07 Jan 2003 at 00:38:36 4.Tino Didriksen said …

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with hoping for an afterlife, so long as it does not become an obsession that makes you forget to live this life (as nuns/monks seem to have).

    Personally, I think we die and that’s it. The idea of an immortal soul is novel and nice, but doesn’t stack up against logic reasoning. Does everyone have a soul? How many have died in history? 10 billion people? 200 billion?

    Imagine a place where upwards 100 billion people live an immortal afterlife, and compare that to this world that holds 6 billion. Must be a huge place…

    Reincarnation doesn’t hold true either, since there are more people now than ever, so somewhere there’d have to have come new souls with no prior lives. What is the karma of a clean soul?

    Anyways, I really do seem to ramble today. I just enjoy teologic topics…

  5. on 07 Jan 2003 at 00:44:59 5.Shortysk8er3287 said …

    i agree with u. it shouldn’t become an obsession. people do live this life waiting to go to the next. as for me, im trying to live it to the fullest!

  6. on 07 Nov 2006 at 05:55:39 6.Grim Reckoning said …

    How can you be so damn obtuse? Here is a novel idea for you; men reject the truth of God because they are rebellious by nature. Mankind naturally goes against authority and the idea of answering for his actions simply because he loves to do what he wants. Wouldn’t it be nice to think that you live life to its “fullest” do what you wish and never answer to anyone as long as you are not caught? If this is really your outlook on life you have nothing to look forward to. Everything you do is in vain, who cares if history remembers you, in time your name will fade just like all empires fall, hero’s become legends and famous people become forgotten. Religion has nothing to do with belief religion is this as defined in the book of Matthew from the Holy Bible “ A man who visit’s the orphans and takes pity on the widows” a man of virtue is a man of religion. So please don’t be so ignorant as to tag and label Christians as “Religious”.

    Humans do have a conscience, animals and mammals do not. Animals live off of instinct we do not. We live off of lust, desire, greed, love, charity, intelligence etc… Can an animal carve a statue like a sculptor does? Can they right beautiful music like a composer, can they understand or come up with poetry from the heart, can they write plays for entertainment that touch you and make you laugh, cry, dance or shout for joy? No… For humans share a common life force with God our creator, we are unique and special to him. I need not say anymore my point stands on its own two feet.

    The scriptures of the bible are simple, it doesn’t tell you to seek out evil doers and sinners to take them out or punish them for not following God as we Christians do. The scriptures say only to be like God as much as possible, keep his laws, serve him, set an example to the rest of the world by doing what’s right. It is not a believer’s place to run around condemning people, that’s what God does. He created the world and he judges it… Stand against evil and make your point known that you won’t condone it, don’t take it into your own hands to be judge, jury and executioner though. If people come to you seeking God show them the way to find him don’t go out and knock on their doors at 6am on Saturday, If a person is seeking God they will find a church or a man of belief and get guidance. If God created the entire world and galaxy why don’t people trust that he can guide people to him?

    My point is simply this, Christians run around and do dumb things with good intentions because their hearts are in the right place but not their heads and all it does is give people like Mr. Didriksen ammo to shoot at us. You have no right to group people simply because of their affiliation, and if you are going to bash Christians please at least be smart about so you don’t look like an ass, alright?

    Grim Reckoning

  7. on 09 Dec 2006 at 17:08:30 7.squirrl said …

    mister Grim u should get out more. animals may not carve as beautiful as leonardo da vinci in your eyes, but they do make art. go spent some time in the wild and be amazed by natures art and music. go to the south of france and watch a sunset while crickets perform a beautiful concert along with the tjilping birds getting ready to go to sleep.
    ants building fortresses of 2meters high, that can be considered art, same for the beaver building his dam.
    and if u believe in this so called god of yours, then I suggest u read the bible again and stop feeling so superior. for the bible says that god also created the animals. tust me that animals know love, how else do u explain that a tortledove chooses a partner for life and mournes the loss of that partner when it dies.

    mister grim, u are a blind man. open your eyes to the world. u only see what u want to see, too scared to see the world for what it is.

  8. on 19 Feb 2007 at 06:02:48 8.Andreas Andreadis said …

    A great read!

    ‘…all religions are false.’ Can’t say I agree with this, but I can say religions are misleading the people on their own quests, rather than that on which the religion was based on.

  9. on 01 May 2007 at 14:24:48 9.Stormbull said …

    “since no one believes the exact same thing, all regligions are false” – last point

    a non sequiter if ever i saw one, made all the more obvious if we replace the word “religions” with something like “world-views”, which would include such things as atheism, or even some form of agnosticism (believing no one knows). not only is it a non sequiter (the conclusion does not follow from the premis) but the more general replacement is also self contradictory/defeating.

    sorry trino, most of your essay is a rant, without much substance; merely stating your opinion that believers in God are deluded, without anything to back it up. the slightest hint of an argument points to fanatics, probably due to everyones shared contemporary concerns with terrorism etc.
    athough many fanatics do rely upon religion to enable them to do psychologically ridiculous things, most of the time that fanaticism is fuelled by political, social and even poverty related issues, with alot more complexity to it than to simply blame religion. plus the overwhelming majority of theists are not fanatics, and there are atheistic fanatics too.

    i often hear a dislike of ‘organised’ aspects of religion, although i never find it that malicious or sinister. teaching kids what you think is true is a natural thing to do i think. most religions encourage freedom of thought and critical engagement. oh and charity cake sales and humanist book groups are also ‘organised’ lol

    as for philosophy i do recommend some philosophers both theist and atheist, for anyone to read. leading contemporary theistic analytic philosophers include R. Swinburne, A. Plantinga, W. Lane Craig. Leading Atheist philosophers include W. Rowe, P. Draper, A. Flew, and many many more on both sides. i find it hard to take seriously anymore any arguments that dont appear to have done some reading, lol.

    i myself am a cautious religious theist, i certainly dont think all the arguments for theism work, and i find myself thinking that the theist/atheist issue isnt necessarily a zero sum game, i.e. both sides can be reasonable in holding their beliefs. if one side has a good reason to believe, that doesnt mean the other side is suddenly stupid.

    enjoyable to read though m8, and i’ll cya in the game *smiley face here*. do reply, good to keep debating, hehe but we certainly wont let it affect our playing together

  10. on 01 May 2007 at 14:39:16 10.Stormbull said …

    would like to take back the clumsy thing i said about not taking seriously arguments that dont appear to have done any reading.

    clearly you are a wide reader, and have articulated a view very engagingly and winsomely. you may have even read some of the philosophers i mentioned or others again. plus its a bit elitest of me to suggest that ppl should read analytic philosophers to form a view

    but i still recommend reading/studying that sort of thing. other great philosophers of religion include, john hick (religious pluralist, not easily defined as theist or atheist) keith ward, oh and back a little way j.l. mackie

  11. on 01 May 2007 at 15:29:24 11.Tino Didriksen said …

    A very important part of the first paragraph is what I define religions as: “So called religions; institutionalized systems grounded in, and with reverence for, a supernatural power regarded as creator of the universe.”

    I have nothing at all against personal beliefs and religion, and I do write as much in the last paragraps. What I have a big problem with are those that claim their religion is the only true one and subsequently tell others to shun or otherwise hurt ‘heathens’.

    Re: “religions encourage freedom of thought and critical engagement” – yes they do, on paper. Sadly, the clergy and followers tend to skip or otherwise misinterpret those parts of the paper.

    Basically, I just want everyone to have an open mind and be capable of higher order thinking…to be able to listen and intelligently discuss these things, instead of outright denial that the world could be any different.

    I have come across too many who simply cannot comprehend how someone cannot believe exactly what they do…such closed minds. If you ask them why they believe, they cannot quantify or qualify their belief…their reality is broken beyond repair.

  12. on 01 May 2007 at 17:05:35 12.Stormbull said …

    gosh i find those ppl too, although just as often atheists who think theism is deluded :)

    i dont think pointing out the definition changes much, thats pretty much what most religious ppl believe

    the point about claiming their religion is the only true one, i pretty much think that follows from having a belief at all.

    for example, if i believe that there is no God, which i actually think can be a very reasonable position, doesnt it automatically follow that if i meet someone who believes there is a God, then i believe that they must be believing something false?

    of course the different religions only think other religions are false in the things they disagree about, and there is often a suprising degree of shared beliefs, which they all therefore agree about. for example, Islam and Christianity are both theistic, and often agree about the nature and characteristics of God. although they disagree strongly about whether or not Jesus is a prophet of God or some sort of incarnation of God.

    however the idea that many people hurt people flowing from their religious belief, well goodness i find that incredibly rare indeed, and i come from northern ireland! hehe historically maybe there has been violence over it, but today i very much doubt if for example Islamic followers and Christians fight over the nature of Jesus today, in fact i think they all look forward to debating it and enjoy it, hehe. the violence we see today has nothing or very little to do with theological differences.

    clergy, well they all have to study theology to become clergy (im more familiar with Christianity myself). from what i see from many theological teaching institutions, they cannot teach it without doing exactly what you are hoping for, listening intelligently, open minded debate, higher order thinking, etc.

  13. on 01 May 2007 at 20:32:18 13.Stormbull said …

    hehe you got me on one of my favourite things to debate, although as i read what we both say, it seems we’re mostly differing over how widespread closed mindedness is amongst religious people.

    for sure i recognise what youre saying about many being very stubborn about their beliefs, sometimes unable to defend what they believe, very touchy and fearful to even see their beliefs debated. i guess alot of that stems from feeling so strongly about cherished beliefs, and many dont really enjoy philosophical discussion

    me i love it :)

  14. on 04 Jun 2007 at 17:01:12 14.Grim Reckoning said …

    Actually most people choose not to debate religious beliefs because it’s pointless. Religion is a thing of the spirit, you can’t understand it with intelligence alone. It’s the same reason Jesus used to teach to children who understood his conecpts while the adults, scribes an scholars missed his teachings. God’s words is of a pure nature and is very simple and to the point.

    Tino- The thing is man only one religion is correct. If you break the law you will be held accountable by the authorities. When you go before a judge and after all the arguing is said and done there is only one thing that matters. Guilty or Innocent. So why would man be so ignorant? To think we can do whatever we want, whenever we want and never give an account to our maker? I think it’s the other way around, religion gives someone strength, a sense of morales, conduct, accountablity and a clear definition of right and wrong. So when all is said and done, only one religion is correct out of the many out there, just as man’s law and justice see’s only guilty and innocent likewise so does God’s law.

    Squirrl- You are an idiot. Ants build out of a built in natural instict, likewise crickets make noise. Animals can feel a kinship to humans but it’s not a real love. How can you explain animals turning on owners after 5 years of being with them? Why do some states or counties outlaw certain types of dogs who are by nature prone to turning on humans? Why are some animals considered wild and untammable? You buddy need to think before you speak and stop being ignorant.

    Now while I believe my religion is the correct one and the others are wrong I’ll not walk around and tell others to convert or rag on someone of a different faith. Thats not what being a christian is all about I do however believe that religions as a whole have really stop serving their purpose at least where organized religion is concerned. Why all the fights over the number of members? Why the witch hunts condeming “heathens” etc? Where was any of that taught and why are men claiming it’s God’s will when they have nothing to back it up? It’s people like that which are giving religion a bad name. I say put down the guns and start looking into what you believe and stop letting organized religious leaders tell you what you believe. That would solve so many issues and end a lot of these debates.

  15. on 07 Feb 2008 at 20:01:53 15.Rikua said …

    Grim- RE: actions performed out of instinct.
    Who’s to say that maybe, just maybe, humans paint masterpieces out of their instinct, not always from their “soul” (or whatever)? In that mind, who’s to say that crickets chirp only out of instinct alone? Also, why are you holding the actions of a percentage of animals as accountable to the whole? How can you be so sure that those “nasty, back-stabbing” pets were so in love with their owners in the first place? You seem to be making the assumption that all pets are happy pets.
    In all these things I have mentioned, there are a thousand sources altering the effects, and maybe one of them is the ‘soul’, maybe it’s not, but no one can know them all. Claiming that you know what those sources are would be the same as claiming to be all-knowing, which no one here can be (religious or not).

  16. on 13 Aug 2008 at 05:01:41 16.jami said …

    I do not believe in religion! I am a believer in Jesus! but religion ive had a taste of it and it was ugh! not good too much controversies amongst way too many people its war has nothing to do with learning love and peace. And concerning my choice of whom i believe the bible says everything written can be reproved edited etc. and its for personal studies just like any other books that we learn from. oh Hi im new to all this so sorry if im doing this all wrong and do please tell me so i know your preferences and a helping hand to the first stepping stone. :) You sound pretty cool hope youll feel the same ttyl

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