recently, the pew forum on religion and public life released the results of their recent U.S. religious knowledge survey. sadly, 86% of THE PEOPLE SURVEYED (not americans as they would suggest... it IS an extrapolation afterall), believe in "god" or a higher power. the problem is, most of these people who believe in god/higher power don't really know the tenets or history of what they believe in. it seems they know that church means dressing up the family on sunday, going to church, feeding the kids cookies so they are quiet during the service, listening to the sermon (a.k.a bible cliff's notes), eating some stale bread and wine, and then going home to watch the game. it's tradition, it's a habit (and a bad one at that, in my opinion). many of these people base their personal beliefs and political stances on a book they haven't read. they cherrypick the parts of their book that support their prejudices (homosexuality is bad) but ignore the ones that just aren't fun [no premarital sex, no pork, no eating lobsters, no rare meat, shaving, or cutting of the hair
(still, i think that link is a bit strange too. i think since jesus was basically raised a jew as far as we know, he was a jew who stirred a following and started an offshoot that was probably still based in part on judaism. similar to how islam is based on judaism, acknowledges jesus, and is just a 3rd iteration / prophet from the original judaism)].
as usual, i digress. i find it entertainingly ironic that of the people polled (and again, this is but 1/1000 of a percent of the population) that atheists/agnostics topped the poll with the best scores followed by jews, mormons, and the best catholic score coming in 5th. if you are here, more than likely you know i am an atheist. i was raised lutheran until the age of 14 or so when i went to TheMom and said i didn't believe in god. it didn't make sense. math and science explained a lot more than church did for me, and even though there's a lot that science couldn't explain, that set grew smaller every day, something that doesn't happen with religion. TheMom was heartbroken, thinking she raised me wrong, but i assured it had absolutely nothing to do with that. it had to do with my free will and the thinking/analytical mind i was born with. as i got older, she came out as an agnostic. i hope this wasn't from my doing as i'm not much for proselytizing... as long as no one gets hurt, i think everyone has the right to believe what they want. i believe she was agnostic far earlier in her life, but that just wasn't accepted so she fell in line with what she was supposed to do culturally. i don't blame her for this. it is certainly a safer environment now to walk away from religion, at least in the western world.
i've lived in the hindu culture which i am quite fond of in their acceptance of other religions. sadly, those other religions were massive missionary expeditions which i thoroughly despise. i personally witnessed the bringing of clothes, money, food, and classrooms to the young. the parents were hindu and the children converted to mormonism via the missionary church that was set up. i asked the parents how they felt about their children leaving the religion they themselves were brought up in, and they said as long as their children were happy, the parents were happy. i half believed this. hinduism does seem to be a happy, peaceful religion trying to better oneself. on the other hand, they wanted their children to be happy and children are simple creatures. a new pair of shoes, a crisp clean white shirt and new tie all their own, a snack after the service that the parents couldn't afford. the children would be happier, but could it be said their happiness was bought? still, the hindus i met weren't angry about it, they were just trying to give their children a better purchase on a properous life by selling out their religious beliefs.
as for christianity, i've been reading the bible off and on for years as an education tool, a piece of literature. while i was in egypt, i read the qu'ran during ramadan as is typical of most muslims. i read this, too, as an educational tool. many of the muslims i worked with were excited that i was converting. when i explained that i was reading it to educate myself on the culture and the people, i ran in to quite a few who asked me stop reading it because that was not the purpose of the book. that's not to say they are any worse than some christians i've told about reading the bible keeping in mind a high degree of "suspension of disbelief". there are always going to be moderates and fundamentalists in every religion. i fear the fundamentalists in all of them. the same bible-thumping christians who tout their 2nd amendment right to keep and bear arms are usually the ones who claim this is a christian nation, forgetting that the 1st amendment, aside from protecting freedom of speech, also explicitly prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion. we are NOT a christian nation, we are a nation of many, believers and non-believers, and a diverse spectrum in between.
i believe over the course of civilized man, religion on the whole has done more harm than good, but on a personal level, i'm sure it's helped it fair share. for fun, why don't you go here
and take the abridged test. i was hoping for a score of 100%, but i missed one. :-(
it's good to have time to be back.
Labels: biblical observations, christianity, culture, islam, judaism, learning, links, religion, science