We Are All Religious
We are all religious.
To superficial ears, such a remark might instantly make one revolt in horror. Surely, men and women who bow to idols and
chant conventional mantras are much different than someone as irreligious as I. They wear robes, rub beads and recite ancient scripture; I do not.
They seek guidance in lore of times past while I am more interested in the beauty of its poetry. However, to be honest one must think and act
honestly. And although the content of my thought, my language and my culture are much different than theirs, I still see myself, no doubt, acting
religious about what amounts to no more than my own tastes, desires and opinions.
I like the idea of God. There I said it. And although my skin crawls at this admittance, the idea that all of the evil and good in this world gets
judged in the hereafter would suit me quite well. I wouldn’t mind going into death knowing that I’d see my friends and family once more. It is
comforting. Do I believe in it? Not in the slightest—I find my comforts elsewhere—but I nonetheless enjoy discussing the topic, at least so that
the imagery and fantasy of it may pass through my imagination.
But God is just an idea as far as we can know or care. It lives only within the words and imagery of our culture, and hence our imagination.
Paradoxically, vivid paintings of him adorn walls and anatomically correct statues stand grotesquely as reminders of this vague and indescribable
force; and one would be hard-pressed to completely exercise these visuals from one’s mind. But one who doesn’t believe in supernatural forces
might begin to see what it is that people actually pray to. If religion is the worship of a “superhuman controlling power”, it could also be said
that it is the worship of nothing more than a comforting idea—both definitions describing the exact same phenomena depending on how one chooses to
look at it. And what is living one’s life for this idea but living one’s life according to ideas in general?
It’s strange how someone can cheer for the same football team for their entire life. The players change, the owners change, the uniforms change, and
the team is never the same team save for its name; yet there is a certain loyalty towards this team despite not having any direct relationship or
similarities with it. In the stands at games, opposing fans will and do razz each other to the point of a fist fight, despite the fact that no one in
the stands has any personal investment in any of the actual people playing. They fight for the name
of the team only. Couldn’t this be
considered religion, insofar as one acts—not according to any sense, reason or experience—but towards an idea?
It seems that there is no difference between football fans and the religious—both are hardcore idealists. Both wear the branding, don the bumper
stickers and talk incessantly about their team with other followers. Both take time out of the Sundays to enjoy the satiation found in their feigned
participation, and one moment spent with an opposing team is sure to lead to argument or worse. The enthusiasm—and I mean this in the classical
sense of the word—always begets the reason.
And how is this any different than political affiliation? Leftists, rightists, all sorts of people committing their conduct and rhetoric to affiliate
with an idea that someone once came up with. They enjoy the idea as it is perhaps conventional to their culture or it simply fits comfortably in the
intellect. But soon the desire to advertise this affiliation shows itself in the age-old display of pure worship. To display our opinions at all cost!
“I’m right, you’re wrong”!—and other such games. Their vanities wish to make it known what their tastes are, for the same reason a pious man
prays or meditates in public—to be seen a certain way. Even followers of Jesus refuse to pray in a closet.
Does one talk about God because he doesn’t like talking about God? I wouldn’t say so; and the atheist and agnostics are a strange case in this
manner. They too employ the idea of God in their speech as much as the religious man does. The atheist contemplates it for the sake of refuting it
(how one should approach every idea), but he holds on to it, not to let it go. Instead of tossing the idea out with yesterday’s news, he keeps it,
because maybe he likes it. He still hangs around it. Or maybe he wishes to use it as an intellectual weapon of sorts as the religious often do. Either
way, their opinion about it must be known and acted according to. Isn’t this how we treat all “gods” and other such comforting ideas?
We all do it. People are religious—always have been and always will—as long as the strive to put their opinions above others. Gods, ways of life,
doctrines, facts, mathematics, metaphysics, philosophy, physics, law, quantum mechanics—all ideas expressed a certain way, written down by ages and
ages of articulate humans—all metaphor and poetry and art. It is simply a matter of taste which one chooses to supplant for his own. Express it, but
simply express it better and politely and have fun with it. Then it becomes art.
Religion is not the problem. We all know many people who follow a religion or believe in a God who are truly excellent human beings. Let the people
have their comforts and festivals. However, every evil act done in the name
of one’s religion, or against one’s religion, or for any
idealistic notion, is an act of pure stupidity, letting one’s own mere opinions, one’s ideas, one’s God, get the better of their very own
reason. To belittle, harm, or even kill someone for an idea is the worst kind of fundamentalism.
Truth is, religion, poetry, art, science, are windows into the human imagination, and as methods of intellectual comfort or pure play, I would hate to
see any of it disappear.
edit on 5-12-2013 by Aphorism because: (no reason given)