Day 4: Your view on religion
Oh Lordy (pun intended) let's open up a can of worms!
Alright. My view...
A) For myself- It's called "Agnostic Theism". I do believe there is a higher power out there. However, I do not give the higher power a name (or gender- I would not say He, for example), or a number- I don't know if there is one or multiple. I do, however, believe that there is some sort of higher power in control.
The Agnostic part is that I don't attribute any sort of religious deity to the higher power- it is not "God" or "Allah" or whatever. I don't know what powers it has or does not have. The general meaning of agnostic is "not knowing"- and that's the principle here- we really don't know what's up here. People can Bible thump all day, but the Bible was written by people. Yes, people who say that God was speaking to them (do we know whether this was true?), but people, nevertheless. For me, I will never truly "know" what to believe, and I will not believe in a deity without knowing. I don't know what's up there, and I'm not going to tell anyone else that I know what's up there either. I'm not going to praise anything up there if I don't know what's up there. It's that simple. I don't know what's up there. I won't know what's up there, and neither will anyone else- Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Atheist- until after we've left and cannot come back to tell everyone else.
The theism part is that I do believe there is something up there. I don't know what it is (previous paragraph), and it's hard to praise something if you don't know what it is...but there is something. I do believe in the goodness of people, and that we should do what good we can while we are here on Earth, but I do not attribute that to religion. I do not attribute that to God or any other deity. I attribute that to my beliefs as a human being. Even if I were atheist, I would still be doing good things, because it is in my nature. However, I believe in theism, I believe in higher power, and I do believe that there is something higher in this universe. The extent of the powers of this deity or number of deities, and the characteristics, features, beliefs, wishes, etc., are not mine to theorize about. I will not try to guess what they want- rather, I will live my life, and if it is what they are pleased with, so be it, and if not, so be it. I do believe I am doing the best I can to be a good person. That's the goal I'm aiming for. I'm not aiming to push anyone else to believe this- I'm just aiming to get through life.
I believe there is some sort of place we go after we live, but I don't know what it's like. I don't know if there is a heaven or hell, but I'm pretty certain they exist. They may not be as described in certain books that people look to for everything, but they probably exist. I do believe there have been monumental times in history that have changed the way that man has lived, but I don't know when or how they happened- it could have been any of the myths we hear, stories from the Bible or other books of religion, or it could be something completely different.
As for creationism, a day, month, year, and so forth could be defined completely differently in the terms of whatever deity created the Earth and its inhabitants. It could have fluctuated between longer and shorter time periods, or time could have been massively longer or shorter than it is now. These people living massively long lives in the bible, hundreds of years, could have been living in times when a year was defined as much shorter- after all, look how long it took to get a regular calendar! As for the Big Bang theory, it could have been a part of creation- does this make me a Scientific Agnostic Theist?? The dinosaurs and evolution could have all been a part of a long massive day that whatever deity was testing to figure out what animals were best suited for survival on the planet he was creating...and giving us other planets to explore for fun (who knows what's going through a deity's head?) before creating the regular length we consider a night and day.
Anyone shoot down my theories- go ahead, they're just theories- I'll come up with something else. That's the way I am. I'll find a way to make a new theory. There are so many things that could be true, would be true, might be true. Earth is an endless mass of possibilities. Deities add to that mass, and the fact that nobody can see or know about them outside the realm of human life adds to the great debate. There will never be agreement on the subject- as long as humans have free will, there will be difference in opinion and interpretation.
Honestly, not truly knowing myself, I don't want to say anyone else is wrong, because any of these people could be spouting off the truth, or they could, every single one, be wrong. I don't know, therefore, I can't say. Who am I to follow, when I don't truly know myself? I just know there is something out there, and that's all I need to know. That's all I want to know, that's all I have to know. As long as I keep living life in a positive way, helping people and trying to make things better, I think that's all that matters, really.
B) Other people- I'm not going to tell someone else what to believe. I might tell someone else what I believe, but as far as what they believe, I'm not going to tell them they're wrong, or that they're going to hell. I can't say they're right or wrong. I don't know what they believe, I don't know anything about their deity, I don't know what happens after death, and I can't make any judgments. I won't preach about it. If someone asks me about it, I'll tell them- this is what I believe, this is why, and if you want to believe it, that's ok, if not, that's alright too.
As far as their children go, I believe that people should introduce their children to many religions- Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Catholic, even Agnosticism and possibly Atheism- and see which one they think they like the best. As for choosing a religion, this might be left for older children. One might raise them exploring different religions, letting them see more than just a book, but actually going to services and be involved. This will allow them to see what they're going into- and make an informed decision from there. This way they have the information and the experience they need to make that informed decision, and they don't feel pressured to do so. They should never feel pressured in the decision to follow a certain belief.
They should, though, be given the chance to experience different beliefs, rather than just growing up without the resources. If they don't know what's out there, they can't make an informed decision. The same is true if they only attend Christian churches, and are told they can choose. How can they know about other religions? The education they can receive from attending other churches, or at least meeting people from other religions, can be valuable to them for the rest of their lives, and will also help with acceptance of others (although some parents may go WHOA, I don't want my kid accepting that kid). It is actually a good thing for a child, even if the parent is hesitant. It's exploration, learning, education. It allows for informed decisions and lets the child know that it's ok to believe many different things. It teaches the child that there are many different views out there, and choosing one will be difficult.
Allowing a child to dabble in religion teaches love, acceptance, culture, perception, and the value of exploration.
Agnostic theism (or...Scientific Agnostic Theism) takes into account that anyone could be right- and it acknowledges that while I believe there is a higher power, I don't know much about it, so I can't say much about it. The scientific part means I can't debunk science, but I can fit science in, because I don't know about the deity's mind, and perhaps they had different perceptions of time and space, and who knows, maybe they did some experimenting of their own. We don't know, and will never know for sure, although anyone can try to tell me what to believe. I'm telling you, I do believe there's something up there! I just don't give it characteristics like you do! I allow for flexibility, and that makes the topic of religion much more comfortable for me.
THOSE- those are my beliefs on religion. Let the wars begin.