January 7, 2009

Doubt is Humbling

A few night ago, I watched Religulous with Bill Maher, and I have been thinking about it ever since. I found a few clips on Youtube that epitomize the themes of the film, but like I always tell my students, one shouldn’t just post Youtube clips without any personal insight as to why the said clip is being shared.

The problem is that I am lazy and don’t really want to take the time to explain why I found this movie in general, and this clip in particular, so damn important. One could argue than, that I should just stew in my own reveries and leave the blog posts to more diligent and thoughtful writers. I can’t do that. I want to try and at least scribe a few paragraphs.
Religion must die for mankind to live
This is a hyperbolic statement, there is no doubt about that, but more and more I think people, myself included, are waking up and seeing that the myths in which we have ensconced ourselves are the main reasons why we are heading towards global extinction.

Now before all the religious types get worked up, let me say a few things: I see myself as a spiritual person. I believe that there is a force that runs through the universe and that there is some kind of karmic scale on which our actions are measured. I find myself occasionally in awe of the things that makes our amazing planet function in such a perfect and precise way.

Let me also say that I find the idea of Jesus as some kind beatnik rabble-rouser akin to John Lennon, spreading love and peace in his sandals in the desert very appealing. I love mysticism and the idea of the Gnostics, the Sufis, and what ever Jewish sect skews from orthodox scripture.

My problem is with the rigidity of faith. The idea that there is only one answer, one book, one faith, whatever that idea may be. It is this idea of one group holding all the answers that terrifies me. That is why I think that it is important for non-religious people to speak out and not be afraid of “offending” people. Our time has come to be heard or else we are forfeiting our freedoms, our ideas, our planet, and our future to, let’s be honest- irrational close-minded people.

In short, religion as it has been practiced and is being practiced today is dangerous, “because it allows human beings who don’t have all the answers, think that they do.” I agree with Maher when he says that rational freethinkers need to stand up and not be afraid to offend the faithful. They have steered this ship in the wrong direction for long enough, let us take over for a while.

Take a look at this clip and be sure to watch the film in its entirety it is worth your time.

I also came across this fun little clip about intolerance that I felt was a nice accompaniment to this post:


  1. My thoughts: Find your truth, whatever that is. If your truth is in Islam, so be it. If your truth is in Buddhism, great. If your truth is no faith, that's great too. I do believe there is A truth, but that everyone finds it in different venues, people, icons, beliefs, places, or texts.

    I wouldn't go so far to say religion must die. But I would say live, and let live. Problems with religion usually arise when believers become closed, and not open. It is only through openness that we can truly have faith of any kind.

  2. I agree that there are many ways to find "a" truth or "the " truth, the problem I see with religion is that they all say that their truth is the one and only and all others are wrong. This leads to conflict.

    Their ideas of sin and salvation force people to be excluded if our search for truth leads in a totally different direction.

    Like I said in my post, I think of myself as a very spiritual person and I am often pondering existence, my role etc...but i see organized religion as it has evolved as an obstacle to true spirituality.

    I don't think that religion must die either, but I am not sure how we can continue as a collective humanity if we splintered into factions of believers, heretics, non-believers etc...

  3. Bernadette1:10 AM

    I'd like to start my post with a definition of religion which came straight out of wikipedia:

    "A religion is an organized approach to human spirituality which usually encompasses a set of narratives, symbols, beliefs and practices, often with a supernatural or transcendent quality, that give meaning to the practitioner's experiences of life through reference to a higher power or truth"

    The key word in this definition is "organized" in that it is a man-made institution of practices and ideas. The key problem that lies at the root of every religion is that people have influenced how it takes shape. Religion should not be confused with faith which can be practiced on a personal level.

    I speak from personal experience having grown up in a Roman Catholic family. I went to church every Sunday, prayed the rosary every night with my family and went to catechism every Saturday until I was 13. The R.C. religion expected that I perform these acts in order to receive the various sacraments or rites of passage. Until I was 18 I never really questioned the religion and used to think that faith and religion were synonymous with each other. When I was 18 I attended a mass where a woman read a letter from the Archbishop urging all parishioners to attend an anti-abortion rally for the following weekend. In that letter, he wrote a powerful statement: "for those who do not participate, you will have the blood of unborn infants on your hands." That statement was what shook my whole belief system up. For the first time I suddenly stopped and realized that something was fundamentally flawed about religion.

    Recently I visited my husband's family who are atheists. His brother shared with me a personal story about watching a man being burnt alive during religious riots that took place when he was a teenager. That experience shook him up and profoundly impacted him and his views about religion.

    In summary, I think that religion needs to die in that the institutions espousing faith should not exist. Why is it necessary for people to congregate in an edifice regularly to uniformly sit, stand, kneel, and pray together? Some might argue that it is the need to be part of a group. Yet this is what impedes mankind from progressing; we need to embrace people from every walk of life regardless of their spiritual beliefs or lack thereof. Religion breeds uniformity and intolerance. How can we say that it doesn't when we often see so much violence and hatred is spread in the name of a God or belief?

    Thank you Jaibiz for sharing your thoughts on this topic.