There are times it frustrates me when people say they are atheists because of what people have done in the name of religion. PEOPLE do dunderheaded things in the name of all sorts of things, and though religion does have extreme examples, there are also extreme idiots (Richard Dawkins) screaming passionately about their atheism. He's as dangerous as any other zealot; and that is the issue: zealotry in human hands is the problem. Not G-d.
To withdraw belief in G-d because of human behavior honestly bewilders me.
It's like me and not having kids.
I never had children because I never experienced the bone-deep desire - the *urge* (so named because of its *urgency*) to have a child.
This seems to me the very best of reasons never to have them. There have been other thoughts on the matter that have been a part of my life, but at bottom it's the simple absence of need to procreate or adopt, to be a parent, that has been ultimately responsible.
So I can see, very easily, the absence of need for G-d ... and for faith.
But many of the atheists I know once HAD faith - and lost it, because of other people. They experienced disillusionment and shame in religion, because of the jerks who espouse it (whether their own or not) and decided against G-d, because of man.
I suppose this is overwhelmingly arrogant: but this bewilders me.
Anything hideous ever done in the name of religion came about by the hands, and the tongues, of human beings.
Religion is a tool. It can be a poor tool, misused, No doubt about it. So can science and history; my blog is filled with examples of the wrongheaded invocation of history, the way we think it's some sort of plotline leading ever-onward to betterment, and how that must mean humanity now is the best humanity history has ever seen, because: history equals evolution.
So I ABSOLUTELY concur, that there are a hell of a lot of people out there blunting their blades, hammering with a tool meant to cut through confusion, or mistaking the philosophy and questioning of faith for final, firm truth.
But the idea that we then throw out all the tools, instead of sharpening or learning how to use them (for those interested in what those tools have wrought, or could) ...
Isn't that the very last word in Luddite behavior? "It's of no use to me and it scares me, so HULK SMASH!" ... ?
Again: yes. The tools of religion have hurt many people. So have the tools that created the thing we call culture, or advancement. Innovation requires tools.
For me, it is an innovation of the highest order to grow spiritually.
I tried to do that without tools, without a congregation, without inspiration. I ended up making up a lot of religious tools for myself. Offerings, prayers, little personal rituals.
And it got me to a point where I felt I wasn't really that good an innovator, and I needed the help of something outside my own wee and paltry brain.
I reached for religion. My church.
There I found the literally-angelic voice that perhaps inspired me most, but I also found Miss B., with whom I sat at yesterday's services. She was the first who ever welcomed me in the congregation, and she is the very, joyous definition of Christian fellowship. Not because we sit around quoting bible verses at one another. But because she saw me alone as a guest, and made me a member, as fully and as lovingly as education and confirmation and that bishop who laid hands on my head.
Religion, for me - as filled with ritual and script as my church is - is far less about dogma, and so much about communion: the communion of souls. Of just nice PEOPLE. Of congregation. Coming together, and sharing the sunshine yesterday. That is a religious act as profound as the eating of an intincted wafer.
I may still not be the craftsman, with my tools, that (oh, say) Jesus, who was a carpenter, was. But I am part of a team now, a crew, a congregation. Of people I honestly do love, though I spend little time with them of late. And appreciate and respect.
I found the phrase, "Okay, we're past the angelic robes and the beard and the penis, and we're onto something BIGGER!" one day over lunch ...
Faith and hope and growing spiritually? Yes, go big.
Why try for faith, without exultation?
What else is faith for but to bring us together as human beings, and what else, at bottom, does ANY religion foster? Even those religions we condemn as perverted - geared toward exclusion as much as inclusion - geared toward WINNING, and punishment of sin - still require one heart and mind to link to another, and another.
We're only human. We don't always do that well. We don't do it well in business or in study, in reaching goals or explaining them. It's not religion's fault.
And human behavior is human behavior - and flawed, as often as it is beautiful - in the pursuit of whatever it is we do to connect ourselves to others.
An ass in a choir robe is just as much of an ass once the robe is doffed and hymns are suddenly to blame for all that is wrong in the world. The robe didn't sin, neither (perhaps) did the hymn. They were there before disillusionment, and they'll be there after.
If I am a poor painter, I don't blame the brush; not even the paint. It lies within me to learn, or not. Perhaps it lies within me to know I'm a better writer than I am an artist.
But it's not the tools' fault, if I don't sell paintings for stunning pricetags.