Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The price of faith

The events of today gave me pause. I often try to ask the why in regards to events, even those that seem so senseless as those that befell the office of Charlie Hebdo. What exactly does it take for a human being to want to kill a cartoonist and those affiliated with a satirical publication? Religion. A belief system that people adopt entirely due to geography and whatever is the doctrine of that location for that given time. There have been several religions since we've been around. All of them making claims without evidence. Just a simple feeling inside that has lead to myriad different interpretations that there are various or one deity(ies) that somehow give a shit about what we think, what we eat, when we fuck, how we fuck, what parts of our genitals remain after our birth and various other things that make me question the character of these deities and the people that believe them.

I've always been one to accept this nonsense from people who I've made friendships with and family. It's a topic I'd just rather avoid altogether. Mostly because they'd never do the kind of things that were witnessed today. They also happen to be awesome individuals. And yet today gave me pause and a moment of reflection.

What exactly is the price of these beliefs when the worst of us allow themselves to form their own interpretations? These beliefs come from a series of writings that were concocted by humans. Humans that happened to live a very long time ago where things were quite different. These writings, if you actually take the time to read them, have some fairly venomous content. Content, that anyone sharing the same faith could easily interpret and adopt for malicious purposes.

Here are some examples:
On women:
To the woman he said, "I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." (Gen. 3:16)

On slavery:
"Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him." (Ephesians 6:5-9)

On disbelief:
"I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them" Quran (8:12)

On homosexuality:
"Whoever you find doing the action of the people of Loot, execute the one who does it and the one to whom it is done." Abu Dawud (4462)

Quran, Hadith, Old Testament and New, passages like this can be found in abundance. To any rational and morally sound individual, these can be dismissed. The problem is we don't live in a world full of people who, when drawn to fanaticism, have the same ability of omission. As a result, anyone can simply pick up one of these books and fuel the fire of their hatred and bigotry. They're readily available for consumption. Other than the fact that one interpretation is "good" and the other is "bad", how exactly do you convince them otherwise if the ideas are present within your scripture in black and white?

Bear in mind, I don't equate having said beliefs to the ghastly actions of a select few. I do however find that having them available, despite the good nature of most, to be a problem. It'd be like having a law that was passed prohibiting rape with a sub-clause "unless she's really really hot, you have not had sex in 6 months, are really really horny and will use a condom" and hoping people don't take the last part literally because they're good people with morals. No one in their right mind would ever pass legislation like that. There are however societies that are currently using religious doctrine as their primary focus of legislation either by promoting creationism as a school subject or having their entire society under Sharia law. All of this is unacceptable.

It's because of this that I now find myself looking to be more vocal against any and all religions. I aim to make people think and dismiss these beliefs as sheer and utter nonsense. When Christopher Hitchens came up with the book title God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, I thought he was being cheeky and abrasive as a form or self promotion. Now I'm finding myself agreeing with that statement more and more each day. The worst of us have been granted the ability to rationalize the murder of artists and journalist that chose to make fun of a fictitious figure by drawing a fucking cartoon. We're all partly to blame for tolerating belief systems and giving them weight without scrutiny as well as buying into that bullshit in the first place. If your scripture holds such venomous nonsense, it's your duty to amend it or disregard it in its entirety. If you were a rational free thinking human being, you'd chose the latter.

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