Saturday, March 27, 2010

Some personal thoughts about beliefs systems




Disclaimer, this post may not make much sense from the structural point of view, because I am just going to start typing things as they come to my head.

There's something I need to tell you, because many people may be dealing with the same thing, this is tearing me apart.

On one side, I understand perfectly and completely the thing about people living their lives the best way the know how, I know many people out there who consider themselves christian and who live decent lives, some people I consider close friends, believe in some form a god, most often is the christian god Jesus Christ, it's not accident, I do after all, live in a Westernized society, if I were born in Saudi Arabia, most of my friends would be muslim, If I were born here, but 400 years ago, chances are my friends would be worshipping mother nature or something. Anyway, the thing is, I live in a society where the majority consider themselves some form christian.

I don't respect or care for Christianity, but that doesn't mean I don't respect or care about you as a person. If I know you, and you are a nice person, I don't care if you worship a grilled cheese sandwich, Zeus, Yahweh, or Lady Gaga, I don't give a damn. The same applies if you are atheist, if you are a total douchebag and you call yourself an atheist, it doesn't mean that I am your pal.

Going back to Religion in General and Christianity specifically, I do have many issues with it. This position comes from a lifetime of thinking, analyzing scriptures, being around church and what not, my doubts did not come on a whim, this is not a phase that I am going trough, it's not a response to an oppressive childhood, I did meet hypocrites in church, but even if 100% of the people I met were true christians, I still would have my doubts. Some people (i.e my Mom) think that I was influenced by the "liberals" that lurk universities , my Dad thinks that Iraq made me an atheist, he maybe onto something there. But, the truth is, it all started very early, however, I did want to believe, I wanted it all to be true! I did not rebel against it just to be different, I did want it all to be true, and it took courage to separate from a community that gave me so much comfort, I miss the close-knit feeling of belonging you get when you are part of a church. I still do.

But it was reasoning that made me change my mind, I knew there are a lot of other religions, so I thought, are they all true? some are more true than others? (Catholics vs Protestant, vs Jehova Witness, Mormons?) what's the deal here?
Then it was the problem of evil and suffering, the explanations that I got for it were mentally unsatisfying, then it hit me,
what if they are all wrong? what if this is something we made up to make sense of the world? and then everything makes sense.

How I figured it out is the silliest thing in the world, but I'll share it anyway, the first church I ever went to, I had a crush on the pastor's daughter, ( I was 12 ok?) I was too shy to actually tell her that, but that did not stop me from having a romance and a relationship with her, all in my head. I moved to FL and never saw her again, but to me, this was my first love, to her, she probably didn't know I existed.

This silly example is a instance of the power of the mind, when you really want to believe something, you can go off and make the world fit your views.

But what I did when I was older was to look for evidence that Christianity is the right faith. See, I knew the answer was that God is real, and Jesus is the way. But I wanted proof, so I looked, and looked, and did not find anything that would make my faith more valid than any other faith, so I keep going to church because I though of faith as a virtue, and I was lacking in that virtue, but I though God would provide me with faith if I kept on praying for it.

Then I went to Iraq, I saw that rightous people suffer in this world, regardless of how faithful you are. Suffering. Seeing people suffer for no reason got to me, Then I came across a book that told me it was ok to say that I don't believe in God.

"The God Delusion" made me aware that I was not alone in my reasoning, so I embraced that label. My mistake was thinking that if I showed other people my arduous path to my current position, they would see that I was diligent, that it was an honest inquiry and that they would follow me. I wanted all my friends and family to know, that it's ok, that you can leave the church, and it would be allright. But I found out the hard way that people don't want their beliefs challenged, when somebody wants to believe something they will make everything fit what they want to believe.

When I see somebody make a statement 3*2 = 7, I have to say something and correct it. When I see someone saying they have proof or reason that God exists I feel compelled to tell them that I have been down that road and came up empty, But they don't want to hear it. Nobody does, So my question to myself is, what should I do?

Should I keep my opinion to myself? Well, I don't know,
If everyone takes the same path, then nothing would ever change, if that was the attitude of our forefathers, we would still be a colony of England, we would still have slaves, women would not be able to vote, and I would probably have to go to a different bathroom in certain parts of this country. So no.

I think is wrong for religious groups that feel that they are so righteous, they can get away with intolerance in this country in the name of their beliefs. I think is wrong to block scientific research in the name of a religious belief. I think it's utterly ridiculous to "teach both theories" when it comes to science, clearly, one thing is science, the other is not. I think it's wrong to discriminate based on sexual preference. I am tired of otherwise good people to pick and choose from an old book what they think is right or wrong, I think is wrong to call this country a "Christian Nation" it is a secular government where most of citizens are christian, that's something very different from having a Christian Government.

It's hard to say these things without hurting people's feelings without offending. I am very sorry, that's not my intention, I just want to make this place a better world for everybody whether you are a believer or not. A world where we are equal, a world were we can tolerate each other and everyone has the freedom to pursue happiness.


In conclusion, I don't think I can convince people in a personal level that their beliefs are wrong, no matter how well I present the argument. But I think that we can at least stop the side effects, teaching science in schools, stopping the intolerance are a good start. Religion is at the root of these issues, but its also a touching subject to people, so attacking religion is a risky thing.


I am torn because, if I choose one path, I compromise the other. I don't want to alienate my friends, but I do want to make people aware of these things. I don't want to turn into an intolerant bigot. But I do want to fight against social injustice.

J.V.

11 comments:

Haroldo said...

My only concern is that you view your believe system as being outside others while in fact it is exactly the same, you feel compelled to show your arguments because your path took you that way. However I also feel compelled to give you my arguments in the same way, but the fact is that you can't understand my arguments in the same way that I can't understand yours. In conclusion, your decision of not having any religious believe at all is in itself a religious believe that should be treated at the same level as any other believe

jmac said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jmac said...

Haroldo - good point.

Jose said...

Haroldo,

If I understand what we've talked about right. You have faith in your beliefs because you want to believe in them. You have used your reasoning skills to take out what you think is wrong, and you have chosen to have faith in the rest. You cannot say that you have observable, reproducible, and undeniable evidence for saying that your belief is right, you have faith in your faith. And that's ok, I respect that. You have your reasons for your faith, and I have my reasons for my lack of.

My point is this. While we both have reasons for our beliefs, I chose not to believe in something. Which is different. Choosing not to believe is not a belief, it's a position.

You don't have a belief in non-Santa Claus, right? I can't say, well, you don't believe in Santa, and that's a belief system.

Being bald is not a hair color. Being Agnostic is not a belief system.

But I think I understand and I do respect your reasoning even if I don't agree with them. However, I don't think you are an usual Christian, as you reject many of its wrongful teachings. Kudos for that. But my disagreement with the church are directed squarely at those things that we both disagree with. I think of you more as an ally in this.

Haroldo said...

It is not that I reject some of the teachings it is that I believe that some people interpret some things in a way that contradicts the whole thing, so in that case the interpretation can't be correct. Anyway, my point is that by trying to convince someone with your with your arguments about what you believe (in this case that god does not exist) is the same as me trying to convince you of the god I believe in and therefore it is exactly the same. Also, neither you can't produce any observable, reproducible, and undeniable evidence that god do not exist

Jose said...

Ok.

Now, suppose I tell you that I believe in unicorns. But I have no evidence for that belief.

And you tell me you don't believe in unicorns because there is not evidence for unicorns, but you don't have evidence that unicorns don't exists.

Who is more likely to be correct?

Haroldo said...

Well the I don't believe in unicorns because there is nothing to me that point to the existence of unicorns. However, for me there are enough reasons to believe there must be a God. Those reasons may not be enough for you. In fact, they are not and therefore it is easy for you to compare the existence of unicorns to the existence of God. However the fact remains that you can't reproduce any scientific evidence for the non existence of god, for this reason your idea that god does not exist is just a believe not based on any scientific fact. Therefore your believes and mine are on equal footing.

jmac said...

You know Jose, I've been thinking about this some over the last day (which was your intention, I think) and came to a simple conclusion. We can make points with endless logic and decide who is more right, but at the end it comes down to this. If you're not willing to listen to people, you will not be heard. No matter how right or wrong you are, no matter how much logic you use to make a point, you must first listen in order to be heard. From what I read, it sounds like you don't want to listen about Christianity, so don't expect people to listen to your lack of Christianity.

Human beings want to be validated through communication, as you are doing with this post. Communication is not a one sided thing.

Jose said...

Absolutely,

If I did not want to hear what people thought, I wouldn't blog about it.

Jose said...

JMAC,

I also thought about it, and I think there are a couple of things that I got wrong.

Number 1 is to even imply that I know the answer to something nobody can know with certainty. I don't know any more than anybody else.

Number 2 is the confrontational, in your face method, I don't know if I want to do that anymore. This topic was very important to me at some point, and to this date remains very interesting. But I've moved on, you are right, If I don't want to hear defenses, I shouldn't write about it. Once somebody's mind is made up, what's the point of endless arguing the same thing over and over?

My life is full of other things that give me a sense of fulfillment and meaning.

My sense of wonder make it easy for me to enjoy learning new things, I enjoy learning how to be a be a better person, how to be a better parent, a better husband, a better friend, engineer, student.

I know that I have many faults, and I constantly striving to improve myself. I wish i could spend more time writing about those things.

Those are the things that I find more worthy.

jmac said...

Saying this with respect, but you really not that different than any of us. Most of us find fulfillment in those same things. How we go about getting there, is probably different.

~Jossie