Over the past few weeks I’ve had increasingly more discussions with religious friends from various religions, including Islam, Christianity and (of course) Mormonism. I’ve even started a new tradition formed around the idea of “content exchange” (“I give you some content to review, and you give me some content to review”).
These conversations, along with many other conversations in the past three years with even more religious people from even more religions, have left me somewhat… pensive… about “the great debate” of religion generally.
Here are some brief thoughts.
It just seems so obvious
At this point in time I’d say that to me, it just seems so obvious that religion is a hoax. Given all we know about science and history, it’s a marvel that religion is around anymore. It’s like a massive anachronism, just sitting there (tax exempt) within our modern society.
But I understand why it’s there. The reasons are plentiful. People were indoctrinated from youth and the power of “authority” to convince us of a fact is so immense. People have religious experiences within the system that are powerful and convincing to them, further binding them to their own worldview. People hope for, yearn for and seek “faith”, a better word, a final justice, a deeper meaning or purpose to life.
Indeed, the sub-title of William Jame’s The Varieties of Religious Experience” is “A study in human nature”. Many religions (like Islam) argue that worship of a higher being is intrinsic in our human nature, we yearn to bow down before a supreme creator, our Father figure — and I think the evidence is in favour of that argument — just look around us, look at the great variety of religions in the world, I think the jury is not out on this one.
The box: the myths we subscribe to
I recently read one of the best books I’ve ever read: Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens: a Brief History of Mankind. In this book Harari explains the notion of an “inter-subjective reality”, AKA something that exists only within the collective consciousness of human beings.
Examples of these myths are: Capitalism, Liberal Democracy, and Fashion.
This book really helped me to perceive the groups of myths that I subscribe to. What are the wings of the complex that is my worldview?
Realising that (the Theist) “God” is a merely a myth like money and authority is akin to realising that money and authority themselves are merely myths. How often in your day-to-day experience do you encounter someone who understands that money is a myth?
This realisation — that our worldview is mainly just a coherent framework of myths, ideas and fictions is a profound and simple insight.
I give this background to explain that it should be no surprise that so few people outgrow the religion of their parents — because if you think about it, how many people realise money, like God, is also a myth?
Realising that religion is a hoax is really a “plain and precious truth” — and for those who are or were religious, it’s very rare indeed.
Rare, and Lucky
I tease religious people sometimes — telling them that they must feel really lucky that they happened to just be born into the correct, “one and only” true religion. (Somehow, they don’t like my saying that).
But the reality is, I will freely admit that I feel really lucky to realise religion is a fraud. Given the amount of people who, to one degree or another, remain connected to their childhood religions, I am actually very fortunate and lucky. I am free.
Is it all a waste of time?
Doing content exchanges, within the past 2 months I have spent at least 40-45 hours reviewing and responding to content, as well as having conversations.
Sometimes when I look back on those conversations, I sincerely wonder if it was all a waste of time.
— but I don’t think it is. Even if I am unsuccessful at convincing someone their religious worldview is incorrect, still I have “pushed back” on religion. And much of the progress we have made as a species over time is because many many good people spent some of their energy pushing back against religion. If it weren’t for these brave souls, we’d never have visited the moon, built smartphones or split the atom — because we’d still be stuck in the dark ages of religious monopoly.
Never give up!
The war of ideas will last as long as we live. It’s not going anywhere. The amount of misconception and “bad ideas” embraced by humanity is staggering, and requires that we take heart and keep pushing.
To borrow from a “scripture”: “it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor”.
I am free. And I would feel bad by not attempting to show others to the path of freedom.