Confusion About Religion

Note: This post is not to malign any religion but to share my confusion about the role of religion in humanity’s advancement. So many thoughts have been racing through my head about the many aspects of religion. These thoughts have grown to become huge questions needing answers. So let me walk you through them. On ‘The True God’: There are over 4300 religions in the world, with Christianity, Islam, Nonreligious (which in itself is a religion), Hinduism, Chinese Traditional religion and Buddhism as the six most popular; in that order. Each of these 4000 plus religions believes that their god – or plethora of gods – is the ‘true god’. Monotheists like Muslims, Christians, Jews and others swear that their god is the truth; even though Muslims don’t believe Christianity is a monotheistic religion. Is Allah the true god and Mohammad his last messenger? Is Jehovah the true god, manifesting himself in human form as Jesus and remaining with people as the Holy Spirit? Is the true god Buddha, Ahura Mazda, Haile Selassie, Shango, Aganju, Amadioha, Aleku, Bumba or the other (very many) gods of Africa and the world? Thing is, each religious adherent believes that their own god is the only true one. Why is that? Where do people get off believing that their chosen paths have to be the right one? And even though none of these gods has been proven to exist, adherents of these religions believe that their way has to be the right path. Yes, none of the existence of these gods have been disproved either but that still leaves us in a lurch. If only one religion is the right path, then at least 4299 religions have to be ‘wrong’. This brings me to the next thought. On ‘Destiny’: Most religious people, regardless of their faith and beliefs, believe that our lives were predestined before we were born and we are just living an already prepared script. This script is supposedly written by the one true god who basically dictates our lives from the moment we are conceived to the moment we die. This has always set me on edge. If this is to be believed, then this one true god deliberately writes that some people WOULD NOT WORSHIP HIM so that he can punish them. This has to be the logical conclusion because, of the 7 billion people on earth, only 2.1 billion are Christians and 1.3 billion, Muslims. Even if we ignore the 1.1 billion who are nonreligious (atheist, agnostics, secular), we still have a whopping 2.5 billion who do not believe in either of these most popular religions. So if Allah is the right god, has he deliberately written that 5.7 billion people go to hell? Or if Jehovah is the true god, has he destined 4.9 billion people to eternal condemnation? Someone once told me that while our lives are destined, we have to choose to walk in our destiny and choosing otherwise is what gets us thrown to hell. Isn’t this a contradiction in itself? If my life has been scripted out, doesn’t that mean that I am destinedto be for or against god? Even if I CHOOSEthat path? And whether we like it or not, there are some people who will never hear about any of these religions. So does that mean that god deliberately doesn’t give them the chance to choose him or their destiny? You can see why this has me in a fix. On ‘Holy Books’: The most popular ‘Holy Books’ are the Bible and Qur’an. These books are said to be the ‘incorruptible word of god’ by those who believe in them. As similar as these book are in terms of morality and storytelling, these books are widely different. Most people will tell you their god is the real deal because their ‘Holy Books’ tell them so. Christians and Jews say that the Bible and Torah (respectively) are the holy words of god because it was written by lots of people who were inspired by god and the stories are in tandem, all leading to Christ or Yahweh. The Muslim says that very reason is why the Bible/Torah is unreliable as the Qur’an was written by only one person. While Christians and Jews do not recognize the Qur’an as a holy book, Muslims accept bits of the Bible that are similar in teaching to the Qur’an. Also, where many scholars may read the books that are contradictory to their faith, many religious faithful do not. So we have the Bible saying that Jehovah is god and the Qur’an saying that Allah is god. The Vedas, Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas tell the Hindu that his way is the truth and the Buddhist swears by the Triptaka, Mahayana Sutras and the Tibetan book of the dead. Each of these books proclaims a true god and denounces others as false. So how can one book be right and all others wrong? And better still, which one of them is right?! Quite honestly, apart from our ‘faith’ in whatever ‘word of god’ we pick, do we really have any proof that these words are right and true? Here is the thing; I can find god in the Harry Potter series and even a way of life in them. Does that make it a holy book? And why is okay to assume other books are wrong when most of us never even bother to read them? I guess what I am asking is what gives us the certainty that the books that tell us how to live our lives are the ‘infallible word of god’? On ‘Blessings’: Each of these religions teaches that god only blesses those who follow the tenets written in their holy books. It goes further to imply that people can only be successful when they follow these books to the smallest tittle. We have seen that this is absolutely false. If anything, it seems that people are the ones who make their own blessings.

On Human Life, Destiny and the Place of Free Will

Rob Wanders: Puppet on a String I had a discussion with a woman recently that got me thinking. The discussion revolved around marriage and having children. I was (and still am) of the opinion that marriage and childbirth is a part of a woman’s life and not the entire reason for her existence. I believe that I am complete whether I decide to marry and have children or not. The woman however was of the opinion that we are destined to be wives and mothers (or husbands and fathers). In her view, God may want to teach us patience and understanding via a mate and children. I said patience and understanding can easily be learned at the work place as it could at home. The argument went back and forth until I said that patience and understanding can also be learned from adopted children. She went into a fit at that point. She made a bold proclamation that adopted children can never be the same as biological children; that one could never love an adopted child as much as they loved a biological child. I was shocked at the statement. I know families where, unless you are told, you wouldn’t know that there is an adopted child in the house. But I digress. When she made the statement, I shut down my mind to her. She went on talking for a bit and it wasn’t until she made one statement that I returned to the present. ‘God may have, for example, destined you to have two children, who may in turn have three children each. If you refuse to do your bit, what do you think will happen?’ The word ‘destined’ stayed with me even after I left the woman. It is that word that set me mulling over some things I will like to share with you now. First off, a quick look at the meaning of the word. Destiny (noun); “the things that will happen in the future.” The destiny of our nation depends on this vote; “the force that some people think controls what happens in the future, and is outside human control.” You cannot fight destiny Culled from Cambridge Dictionary. I believe the woman was referring to the second definition above. So here is why I got rattled. Most religions preach of a deity who created and rules the world. They preach of a God or a couple of gods who created the universe and control all life on it. This is such that universally, being good means your God rewards you and being bad means you are punished. Religion has thus, kept man in check with the promises of an afterlife that is a consequence of our present lives. Some religions even preach that God controls everything that happens to each individual; from the time of our birth until we are returned to the ground. So the question is, ‘Are our lives pre-destined by God’? If yes, I have some follow up questions. If our lives are pre-destined by God, why does He hold us accountable for our actions? Has He predestined those who will get to heaven/paradise (depending on what you believe)? Does that also mean that He has destined those who would go to hell/lake of fire? If He plans our lives, why do I have to be faithful or moral or right? Why shouldn’t we be allowed to roam and kill and pillage? What will be the point of toeing the straight and narrow if there is no guarantee where we will end? Or if we have no choice in the matter? The next question is, ‘If our lives are pre-destined, why are we given the ability to make choices?’ Why do we have freewill? Shouldn’t we just be programmed to function a certain way and be placed on the earth to do just that? Can we refuse our destinies? If that is the case, is our refusal then our destiny? This is what I mean; If God ‘pre-destined’ me to be a doctor and I chose to be a media person, does that mean that I was really destined to be a media person after all? That my refusal was part of my destiny? That I really was acting out a script? Does God pre-destine that the African people be poor and others races rich? If so, when certain Africans break that jinx, does that mean they are refusing their destiny? Or does that mean that they are acceptingtheir destiny? Hmm……this destiny thing is becoming more confusing the more I ponder on it. Are you equally confused? Does God pre-destine that a 10 year old girl be married? That a woman is raped? That a boy is shot? Does God destine that people have and die of cancer? Of the common cold? Of Malaria? Of extreme poverty and hunger? Does God destine that some people are given birth to malformed children and others ‘normal’? Does God destine that a woman be in an abusive marriage? Does God destine that teen or that old man to commit suicide? Does God destine the murderer to kill, the rapist to rape, the abuser to hit and hit until the shattering of bones brings him back to his senses? Is it destiny that some women are prostitutes and some are forced into bestiality? Is it destiny for a person to have Down syndrome, dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, lunacy and whatever other ailment there is? And finally, does God destine some to be heterosexuals and others homosexuals yet…condemning homosexuality? If that then is the case, is God fair? This is the biggest question of them all. Personally, I don’t believe each life is destined as the second definition says. I believe that destiny is the sum total of all our choices made before death. I believe we are a product of the choices we make and not some grand script written about us. I believe that doing good may not always bode me well and doing bad

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