Find Your Happy Place
I am an agnostic, but contemplating atheism. Agnostics like the idea of God; however they feel that it cannot be proven, while an atheist just flat out doesn't believe. I was raised Jewish, but I have never been very religious, although my parents sent me to Hebrew school, and forced me to go to temple. Over the years that I have spent being taught Hebrew, and reading the stories from The Old Testament, I have come to realize that that is all they really are, stories. I mean come on, Noah's Ark, Adam and Eve; you have got to be kidding me. The Old Testament is the Jewish holy book, written by the Hebrews in order to explain everything they couldn't understand.
For instance, look at the story of Noah's ark. There was an ice age in the very early days of man and most places were completely frozen over. The Hebrews could not understand how any of the animals survived the ice, so they made up a story about Noah and his ark. Supposedly Noah was to bring two of each species of animals on his boat. However, there are over 50 million different species of animal, and boat with that capacity would have been the size of Texas.
In addition to the fairytales of The Old Testament, let's take a look at some of the very corrupt teachings in the Bible. There is a specific passage in the book of Leviticus, in which there is a man of Egyptian and Israeli descent passing through an Israeli camp. He happens to make a remark about God, and they sentenced him to death by stoning. "Now an Israelite woman's son, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the people of Israel; and the Israelite woman's son and a man of Israel quarreled in the camp, and the Israelite woman's son blasphemed the Name, and cursed. And they brought him to Moses. His mother's name was Shelo'mith, the daughter of Dibri, and the tribe of Dan. And they put him in custody, till the will of the LORD should be declared to them. And the LORD said to Moses, "Bring out of the camp him who cursed; and let all who heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him. And say to the people of Israel, Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin. He who blasphemes the name of the LORD shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him; the sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death." (Leviticus 24:10-16) This is completely appalling; don't Christianity and Judaism also teach people to respect human life? Is life so unimportant that every time someone says something bad about God he should die? Does God want human sacrifice? Now why worshiping a God like that would be appealing to anyone is beyond me.
How about Hell? As I was reading Dante's Inferno, I could not believe some of the people who were supposed to be sent to Hell! Among them are: Homosexuals, diviners like Tiresias, and Pagans for God's sake! The sodomites, or the homosexuals are described in Canto XV, and more clearly in the notes for the chapter, "The wood that lay behind us, had I looked back, when we encountered another troop of souls who looked at us the way that men will look at one another at dusk," (XV,13-16) "The souls described in this canto and the next one are the souls of sodomites: men who had sex with other men." (pg 328, ln 14) Another instance that shocked me, was when Dante ran into Tiresias, who from what I remember, from reading Oedipus and The Odyssey, was a pretty good guy. He was admitted into Hell for being, "The seer who changed from male to female, unmanned through all his body until the day he struck a second time with his staff at serpents entwined and resumed his manly plumage." (XX, 40-43) Among the Pagans, who make up part of the population in Limbo, are the souls who worshipped a different God, people who weren't baptized and people who were born before Jesus Christ; The Unbaptized, The Lustful, Gluttons, Splenders & Hoarders, and The Wrathful & Sullen are the five different sins that the souls of Limbo have committed. "Traditionally, Limbo is inhabited by souls of un-baptized babies and figures from the Old Testament who died before the time of Christ and hence before Christianity. Dante also includes the souls of virtuous pagans such as Virgil, both histories and Mythological." (pg 311, ln 25-32) This is absurd, why is it that just because someone has completely opposite beliefs, and finds faith and comfort in a different god's teachings, that they should be sent to Hell. No one should have the right to judge someone by what they believe in, or how they wish to live their life.
After being taught all of these stories for the majority of my life, and even after having a Barmitzvah, I have come down to the question What is religion? After asking many of my friends and family if they could give me their best definition of religion, each one of them said something along the lines of religion being the worship of a godlike figure(s), or that the worship of a God is needed in order for something to be named a religion. I believe religion to be a lot more complex than this. It is certain that many religions do have some godlike figures, and that these are the more well known, but there are many other beliefs or even hobbies, in which there are no gods at all, that I would still consider a religion.'
Religion was created by the ancient people, but only because they needed God for two main reasons. First of all, God was essential to them because there were many things in the world that they lacked the knowledge and technology to explain. Why did the sun come up? Where did it come from? Ancient Egyptians believed a huge scarab beetle pushed the sun into place each day, so they had to worship scarabs in case the beetle forgot to do his job. Why were we created? Because God wanted to create some people in the form of him.
The second reason was for law and order. There were no police in the ancient times, only high priests. People were warned not to do things wrong otherwise they would go to hell, or be reborn as a slug. But now we don't need any of those reasons anymore. Firstly we know why the sun comes up. We know how most things work. And we also have police to keep order. Also it is taught in most religions that God created the universe, this is probably the biggest and most blatant lie in religion. There is scientific proof that the universe was created by the big bang, how someone can believe a so called "miracle" over hard evidence boggles my mind.
I will admit that there are some religions that seem to be somewhat O.K. but most of them are based on teachings and ideas rather than some tyrannical God. These religions include Hinduism and Buddhism. Personally the more appealing would be Buddhism. This is because it teaches that all of life is sacred, and that people should always be striving to do their best to reach perfection or, as it is commonly referred to, Nirvana. Even more importantly, the goal in Buddhism is achieved on your own; no one is going to tell you how to achieve Nirvana, there are simply a few guidelines to live by. These guidelines are more commonly known as the four Truths, and also the Eightfold Path. Another main reason in which I agree with Buddhism is that Buddha was a man who wanted people to have a better way of life; he did not want them to worship him and revere him over human life. I also think that Buddhism teaches morals and values better than any other god-worshiping religion ever has.
In defining my personal view of what constitutes a religion, I would say that religion is anything that helps someone with his/her problems. It can be something that one could turn to and find complete rejuvenation or their own happy place. Religion definitely does not have to include God. For instance, just because I am agnostic, and do not practice any of the world religions, that does not mean that I am not religious, I play sports religiously, and listen to music religiously. These are just a few of the many things that I can turn to and find that happy place.' I believe it to be very important for everyone to have something like this that will comfort them when needed, and if it is a certain genre of music, or if they need a God to tell them what to do, to each his own. This view of religion can be compared to that which is taught in Buddhism where Nirvana needs to be achieved by the individual, and there are many different ways in which to achieve it.