“Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you’d have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion.”
– Steven Weinberg
Not too long ago I started the conversation about faith. From the comments and conversations that followed we came to the same fork on the road. Religion.
I actually don’t talk about religion as much as I would like to in here because I don’t truly like to alienate people based on my views of it. If you have never met me I will give you a little bit of my background with religion.
I grew up in a Catholic household with both parents being churchgoers at different times in their lives. Church was not a family affair. I also went to a Catholic high school which kind of gave me a different view on going to church and religion. Religion IS a subject down in Colombia for even non parochial schools. I have never been married in the Catholic church even though I would not mind it. I identify with the cultural aspect of Catholicism because it is very familiar to me. I have also explored other faiths specially in the protestant side of things.
I have attended protestant or “Born Again christian” churches for months with various degrees of creepiness at the end. They have always ended up the same way. First is the push for me to take more of an outreach position when they see that I can speak in front of people without much issue. Then when I decline and want to be just a member it seems like I become “one of those that doesn’t want to spread the message.” The moment I started to ask too many questions that challenged leadership in any way steps are taken to make me either follow in line or be labeled as an “outsider.” The chronology is different depending on the church but it has happened twice now.
I have always ended up in a protestant church thanks to a friend that thinks it will be good for me. I love the singing and bible studies. I love talking ideas, good, bad, salvation, sin. I love the volunteer work. The problem is that I was brought up by Franciscans and some of them taught me that religion is not what is important, that true understanding comes from questioning things. Faith is not something that you can give to others, they have to feel it themselves… its like trying to make someone happy, you can only “try” for so long. It has to come from within.
(Well known mathematician Freeman Dyson has criticized Weinberg’s remark: “And for bad people to do good things—that [also] takes religion.”)
A Franciscan monk is the one that pointed out that our history books in school left a lot of stuff out.
The problem with taking advice about religion from others is that for people like me it is a journey. If you would have asked me 10 years ago, I would have one answer. If you would have asked me during the Bears vs Broncos game, I would have another. If you ask me 10 years from now, I might have another one.
I don’t think I lack faith. I just don’t like to rely on intangibles for things to happen. That said, I have leaned on praying before to get me through tough times. Probably the reason that I could not become a full atheist because when the ship was sinking I would be asking for God. My brain, my debates with others, the books I read, all make me question the validity of both faith and religion. I don’t need it to get through my daily life, but faith is a powerful thing… like love.
The bible is a cool book, Jesus was a cool man… but there are other books and there are other great men.
A lot of horrible things have been done in the name of religion. Also a lot of good is done in the same name. I think in the end everything with an arterial motive goes back to human weakness. All tools can be used for good or evil, it depends a lot on who’s hands is holding them.
Things get a lot more complicated when you are the “Godfather” to 3 kids!
I love the honor that comes with the title. I also want to make sure that if I am ever called to answer questions about it I will have good answers. Note I did not say the “right” answer, but a good one.