Note to self: forgetting painkillers when going to stress my mind is not a good idea.
Religion. Everyone believes in something. It can be that God exists, it can be that he doesn’t. One might believe that our actions here and now affect our future beyond death, some believe that once you die, there is nothing more. No afterlife, no rebirth. Just a consciousness floating in the void, or simply a neural web having stopped functioning. It is all a matter of perspective and nobody has definite answers. Everyone simply has to agree to disagree.
However, some religious actions and customs appear outright blasphemous or, at the very least, folly. Sacred cows, omnipotent statues, stoning as a verdict of trial, patriarchism inscribed in a holy book… Sure there are a lot weirder things out there, but these are just to name a few. A question becomes begged, if we find something awry with people’s religion, should we correct them, and if so, how, in the sense of ‘to what extent’ and really, how. After all, we know through empirical observation that God does not cause rain. When is it appropriate to point it out to someone who still believes that it rains because God is crying, or it thunders, because the mighty God has a hammer he likes. After all, even these are questions of faith and we should have no right to dictate what to believe in. You can’t dictate anyone what to believe in. But correcting them in those things, if these opinions are really caused by following a certain religion, is arguing with a religious person and telling him his religion is faulty. Sure, a faulty religion is still a religion that can be followed, but the followers quickly get a reputation of being completely nuts and bonkers. Or worse, they could simply start accusing others for insulting their belief with pagan claims. And that can’t be good, history is full of examples why religious conflicts aren’t really that gay. And I mean that word in its original meaning ‘happy, joyful, jolly’.
This is why atheists are so… cool. They don’t get offended when their religion is insulted or mocked, since they believe they believe in nothing. But they do follow the rules of the ruling culture, usually strongly affected by a certain religion or other. So they follow many religious customs for cultural reasons. But isn’t culture also a kind of religion?
We believe that what we do and how we act is the ‘right’ thing to do (except those very few rare cases of amorality, where we abuse those pesky culture-dictated rules). We believe.
A religion is not about God, not about sacrilege, not about blasphemy. A religion is about making the world a better place by acting in the welfare of the community. The reasons vary, but the result is the same. The reasons and methods may conflict, but that is simply due to global human diversity, there is nothing that can be done about that (short of mass murder, really not a pleasant thing to do). And if that aim is not the same as of the existence of culture, what else could it be?
“It doesn’t matter what you believe in. Just believe in something.”