George Carlin was onto something when he said, “Religion is [feces from a bull]. “If you’ve never seen this classic performance, check out the traditional YouTube stand-up routine at your next opportunity. You can Google” George Carlin Religion “and you’re sure to find it.
I say George Carlin was onto something, but I won’t completely rule out the validity of religion. Here are two good definitions of religion from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary: (1): the service and worship of God or the supernatural; (2): a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.
The keywords for me in these definitions are “supernatural”, “institutionalized” and “attitudes”.
Supernatural means “of or related to existence outside the natural world,” according to the Free Online Dictionary. The last time I checked, humans hadn’t really reached a perfect understanding of the nature of ourselves or the universe. Do we have a perfect knowledge of our body? Where is that elusive cure for cancer? Many diseases of the body are still classified as idiopathic, which means that they lack a clear cause. How much do we know about black matter? In China, people believed that the Earth was flat until the 17th century. It was not until 330 BC. C. that Aristotle revealed the observational evidence for a spherical Earth. Since I side with the atheists on the issue of creationism, I will give up the point that our planet has clearly existed for much more than 6,000 a few odd years. Apparently, from the dawn of man until today, there are still open questions about what constitutes nature itself. That being the case, how can we get a precise definition of “supernatural” and then destroy it? The phrase “existence outside the natural world” seems very slippery to me. Do our dreams count as natural? Seriously, are there a lot of people out there diligently drawing lines around what’s natural? If so … great. Hope you guys are excited.
Obviously, there are many problems with any system that is “institutionalized.” If something is institutionalized, that means that people have created a construct with sets of rules around it and then have imposed the construct on a wide group of individuals. Our government is an institution. The Roman Catholic Church … obviously an institution. High schools are institutions. I have to agree with George Carlin on the idiocy of worshiping an institution. People are fallible and all. I’m sure the Pope is a great guy, but …
We are all familiar with the problems caused by our “attitudes.” Once again, it goes back to everyone’s fallibility. Can you honestly approve 100% of someone’s attitude? For my part, I do not want to serve or worship any attitude. I can see how George Carlin would have had trouble giving money to a guy who claims to have the most powerful “attitude”.
My reason for holding onto the baby while I dump the religion bath water is this: the common definition of religion includes, incorrectly or correctly, the notions of spirituality. Even Richard Dawkins, author of “The God Delusion”, will not say that there is no spirit. He equates this with denying the existence of fairies or unicorns. Since you have no definitive proof of the non-existence of the spirit, you cannot logically deny its existence.
How do we get to the ultimate test of spirit? Some people claim to have a sensory test of spirit. They have seen visions, heard voices, and felt the touch of a non-human force in their bodies. Not all of these people have been diagnosed with a mental illness. Should they be? Who knows? How can we even prove the existence of our consciousness? That has been a topic of philosophical debate since philosophers emerged. If we are not even sure how to draw a line around our conscious mind, how can we know for sure that there is no spiritual realm? No intelligent person claims to have this ability, not even Stephen Hawking or Richard Dawkins!
Many people are afraid to ask questions about spirituality. Many are afraid of venturing outside of their given religion. Many are so turned off by religion that their spiritual doors are permanently closed, or so they think.
I have absolute confidence in my faith in the spirit. I also have absolute faith in the Divine. Faith in divinity cuts across all generations and all cultures. I believe that we can learn more about ourselves, the natural world, and all other phenomena by opening our minds to all of humanity and focusing on common ground. I am grateful to have many highly educated friends who also believe in this way. Some of them are Christian, some are Jewish, some are Muslim, some are Buddhist, and some are Hindus. I can talk about concepts like prayer with all these people. I have experienced visions and heard spoken phrases while meditating. I have had prophetic dreams. I have had psychic experiences. I’m not ashamed to admit these things, and why would I be?
I respect atheism as a belief simply because I find no value in resisting it. I find no value in denying any belief system unless such a system results in harm. It is not for me to say that atheists are harming themselves by closing off all spiritual avenues. How will I know what trip they are on? I haven’t walked a mile in your loafers.
If I have one idea to offer here, it is this: No one is alone in their dislike of religion, but that doesn’t have to stop anyone from following a spiritual path. This idea is far from original.
If you are not on a spiritual path, good for you. If so, good for you. If religion is blocking your spiritual path, I say … don’t let it.