Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Brief Thoughts on God

Who is God? People seem to make Him what they want Him to be, whether it's holy and loving or vengeful and incredibly strict. Mohammad obviously thought God was in tune with his sexual desires when he wrote that men in heaven got so many virgins for their pleasure. The men who wrote the Old Testament wrote of a God who demanded blood sacrifices and chose them - Israel - to dominate Canaan and slaughter those who got in the way. The God written about in the New Testament is partially the same God from the OT, but He's suddenly more loving and merciful. Perhaps this is where the confusion over the love and mercy of free will vs the strict, harshness of predestination comes from, this apparent duality in nature, but that's a topic for another time. Islam, Judaism, and Christianity do share some characteristics in the description of their god, but each religion puts its own spin on who he is, what he expects, and why he did/does things a certain way. Most religions seem to claim that their god is perfect and holy, which, if nothing else, shows mankind's universal desire to attain perfection. Also, mankind worships the most perfect people and things it can find - that is true all throughout history and very obvious still today. People have varied ideas of perfection, and many times it simply reflects who they are as well as who they wish they were. The religions of the world seem to reflect this observation, as the religions are as varied as the people who propagate and follow them.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Does Belief Matter?

What makes a religion, or any other belief, good or valid?
People of all faiths can talk about their experiences, the good feeling or peace that their beliefs bring them. So, the question that always bugged me is: Are all of the experiences, emotions, whatever that people have valid, or is only set's real? Christians claim to be the only truth in the world, and other religions make similar claims. If only one set of beliefs is the truth, then the experiences of everyone else must be invalid. To a Bible-believing Christian, the happiness of the Buddhist or Muslim is somehow fake, because the only "true" happiness is found in Christ. The followers of Christ should, by default, be the happiest people in the world. All of their problems are simply explained as happening in order to bring glory to God, right? Then Christians should welcome their every trial and tribulation as just another opportunity to bring God glory. People with chronic illnesses and debilitating conditions should just accept them with joy, since they have such a great opportunity to bring glory to their God. Their beliefs sustain them, and are the source of their happiness. Everyone else in the world has beliefs, and their beliefs also bring them happiness and fulfillment. But, only one set's happiness and fulfillment is real... or is that just an exclusionary lie? Is the rest of the world simply faking their happiness and fulfillment? Or, horror-of-horrors, could be it be true that all beliefs are valid, in the sense of bringing the believer happiness and personal fulfillment (along with all the emotions and experiences associated with "discovering the truth")? Is all truth set in stone, or can it be relative? History is full of people who found joy and contentment in believing what we now know to be lies. Was their joy lesser than anyone else's?
It seems to come down to the act of believing in something, rather than what that something is or isn't, is what brings fulfillment and joy in one's life.