Tag Archives: religion

Inter-species marriage

So, let’s assume we discover other life out there in the universe.  Let’s assume that the other different intelligent species we discover are emotionally compatible with humans (i.e. we think in similar ways).  I appreciate this is a stretch.  Assuming religious organisations survive the discovery of life beyond Earth, would those religous organisations which refuse to accept same-sex marriage be okay with different-species marriage as long as the two intelligent life forms asking to be married were of identifiably opposite sex?

Maybe I think about this too much.

Or maybe I’m playing too much Mass Effect 3.

Why I dislike religion – using football as an example

I was thinking about my dislike of religion (as opposed to faith which I think is honest and right) and I think the best way to explain it is to demonstrate with football (the word football works fine, no matter if you’re in the UK or the USA, you’re just imagining different shaped balls).

Some people are fans of a particular football team, either their home town, or college, or a well known team, or some team that has good colours, or just someone they fell into following and kept up with.  Personally, I’m a New York Giants fan, no good reason, I just am.

Fans of a team share a common faith in that team.  They share a common understanding, goal and experience.  They turn up weekly or daily or however often or they watch from home, and they hope their team wins.  The know the names of some of the players, maybe all of them.  They can talk to people they’ve never met about their shared passion and there is a connection.  And yet, that passion is expressed in different ways.  Some people turn up dressed as a player, some paint their faces, some cut their hair, some turn up with the family in regular clothes and eat hot dogs, some watch from home, some are forced to listen on the radio and others get to hear about it 4th hand, but keep up to date anyway.

They all share that support and that common understanding, but expression is varied.  However, within that group of fans there may be factions who all show their support in a certain way, and they feel more companionship and belonging because of it.  They all cut their hair, they all wear the shirt, they all bring the same flag.  That’s fine, they have found a more specific area of fanship and they take part.

It’s only a problem when those fans begin to look down on non-participating members.  To impose their form of fanship.  When you’re frowned upon for not quite being as much of a fan, or because you missed a game, or because you didn’t wear this years shirt, you’re wearing last years.  You still share the same belief, but somehow your belief isn’t strong enough.  Maybe certain fans believe a particular player is bad for the team where-as you’re personally not that worried by them, bad players come and go and the team will survive.  But the angry fans force them out, put pressure on everyone to make sure they can’t play.

There’s the line between faith and religion.  Faith is belief which can be held by many people in subtly different forms, but religion takes that belief and creates rules around it.  You must believe in a certain way, you must dress to football matches in a certain way, you must not allow these people to continue practicing their beliefs because they don’t match our own, you must stop coming to the match with your friend because he’s really a Man City fan and is just here for the burgers.

For the most part, football fans resist being pressured into conforming, they worship their football teams in their own way, are encouraged to do so.

And yet religions appear to me, to spend all of their time imposing how people should practice their faith, the very existence of religion is about control and management of belief.

Why just one God?

Ok, let’s be clear, firstly I’m pretty ignorant in general.  I don’t read much non-fiction, I’ve not had a classical education and I’ve not been privy to much involvement in any form of religion.  So basically, I’m talking from a position of not knowing much but believing a lot.  Inherently, that’s a bad position to be in.  But at least I know that.

Secondly, I’m an atheist.  I’m pretty confident there is no god, or any gods.  I’m prepared to be wrong, but I’m still confident.

Thirdly, faith and religion are not the same thing.  I fundamentally respect faith, I have serious reservations about religion.

So, with all that said, I can understand where belief in a god, the supernatural, or gods comes from.  I’ve been outside and seen weather which I would attribute to magic if I didn’t have a greater understanding of the world around me.  I know when I see a beam of light shine through a cloud several miles away, forming a tunnel of light from the sky to the ground that it’s a natural phenomenon caused by the position of the sun, the clouds and the weather.  It’s no less awe inspiring to see it, no less moving to be there.  But I don’t for a moment belittle people, thousands of years ago, for believing it was some otherworldly event (in some respects of course, it is).  All around us, all the time are miracles of nature that are hard to believe and understand.

I watched a movie on YouTube a few months back of a dust-devil swirling it’s way across a baseball pitch like some crazy demented demon.  How would I have viewed that same event 3000 years ago?  Completely differently I can assure you.  So I do understand where a belief in the supernatural came from (in my uneducated view).  I also understand faith.

I look around like anyone else and wonder, is this it?  Is there more?  Are we here for a reason, is there some great plan.  I can understand why faith originates, to answer those unanswerable questions, to provide hope in the darkness, to provide understanding of our place in the supernatural world.  But on a personal level for me they don’t ring true, but I’m prepared to be wrong, and I think people who hold faith in something have a courage and a vision that maybe I can’t understand or reach.

And I can even understand religion, I just don’t like it.  Religion takes faith and turns it into doctrine and then uses it to enforce a belief system that benefits the religion more than the members.  Shared belief and shared faith is not religion.  Religion is the imposition of how to have faith, of what form that faith must take, and more importantly, what the penalties are for not having that faith.

Common faith is wonderful, to share similar views with other people, to have a shared agreement about what life means, but it is tainted by the fist of religion at every involvement, and I can never respect that.

And the question I’ll never really understand is why only one God?  If I were to belief in the supernatural, or take up theism it would certainly be a multi-deity version.  If I was to have faith it would be in many forces, many gods.  Why a single creator?  Why one entity making all the decisions?

The best reason I can find is that with most polytheistic systems (is that a word?) the gods are capricious.  Yes, the god of love may be happy with you all the time but there’s also a god of warts and he’ll be along sooner or later to curse your foot.  Single god systems ensure that the god cares.  It’s easier to be happy believing in a single god who cares than it is to admit that sometimes the gods don’t care, and are out for a bit of revenge or deadly fun.  If we accept that people need faith, then we can also begin to believe that people are more likely to believe in a single caring god than a bunch of gods who might care only on Mondays.

And yet, the latter more accurately reflects the state of the world, surely that’s why those systems came about.  If you don’t understand the causes of weather, and you’re a sailor, sometimes your god is capricious and sometimes they save your life.  Sometimes the god of corn is nice and makes it rain and other times they’re nasty and bring you drought.  That’s how the world is.  A single loving god needs an excuse (free will!) to explain the badness that goes on in the world.  A bunch of little gods need no excuse, they cover all aspects of how life is.

And so, for me, if I was to believe, it would be in a collection of gods.  A committee maybe.  A rabble perhaps.  Why only one god?  Because I think, it’s easier to believe in one god than many, and people need to believe in something.

Dogma

We’ve finished watching our Kevin Smith DVD’s, this evening was Dogma and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.  Dogma is clearly an intelligent movie, the material is interesting and I really enjoyed the last 20 to 30 minutes.

But the start of this two hour movie was really slow, and it took me a long time to arrive at my enjoyment of the end.  I’m not sure if it was the mood I was in (post dental cost distress) or the fact that I was feeling physically weird.  Whatever it was, I found the start slow and the story a little more contrived than it needed to be.

However, I found the end compelling and cute.  I should think some folk might find it overly twee, but that’s not how it struck me.  Anyway, Dogma is a story of faith and religion and the differences between the two.  It’s a story of fear and hope and joy and sadness and how belief is the sauce that makes the world float.

Really.

The least enjoyable of the Kevin Smith films I’ve watched so far, but still better than an awful lot of shit I own.