This is one of the dinner party deadly three: War! Politics! Religion! All of these things we’re not supposed to discuss are more important today than they have ever been.
Whether it be for spiritual guidance, the development of value systems or community building, religion serves a purpose in society. To bring this all to the forefront, equally, I thought I’d lay it all on the line and spell it out for everyone.
- Is there a God? As a science fan-boy and a Dawkins reader, the arguments against there being a God are fantastic; the science and detail that Atheists bring forward to disprove God are tremendous feats of research and prose, but that is all they are. Writing projects can’t disprove the creator. No matter how lauded a professor is, they can’t pronounce God dead. Science and religion can happily co-exist as long as they aren’t too loud in the backseat of humanity’s Minivan. There is a God, it is up to you to decide what its name is or if it should have a name at all.
- What God do you believe in, James? I always find that to be a hilarious question. I believe this has caused more pain and suffering in the world than any other. My answer: Who Cares! In the long run we’re all human beings; if you pray to Allah or Xenu, in the end we’re all going to the same place. If there is a God, he isn’t a comptroller parsing one type of faith and goodness for another and as far as I’ve read, the best summation for this discussion is The Last Sermon of the Prophet Muhammad.
If you haven’t read The Last Sermon, I want to set the scene for you:
Imagine with me, lets go back… way back before Foursquare, MySpace or cellphones were a world of discord and chaos. The land was rife with disease and violence, the world was horrible. It was tribal, hierophantic; there were no rights and science was crude. Healthcare didn’t exist, so you’d die from an infected cut or at birth, starvation (much like today but with fewer lights); no dental, you’d ache until your tooth was removed by a punch in the face. If you were born a boy you might live to be a serf moving rocks in the mud for a lord, or grow to be a soldier killing people for a living (if you’re lucky)… really not many options back then.
If you were a girl it was worse. You couldn’t be a soldier, and as much as we talk about rape-culture today, 1,500 years ago women were treated horribly. Property? Bah, less than that. Society back then was awful. Sure, there was art, science, and some sort of crude democracy in a far away place you’d never be, but life was hell for most and worse if you were poor or a woman.
Here we are trudging along, being told what to do by our slave overlords or barked at by a commander. Everything can kill you. We’ve just clamoured along for the last 100,000 years without very much progress but thankfully there have been some gilded wealthy, connected, educated classes collecting some sort of knowledge in this time. That is where we find the Prophet Muhammad, near the end of his life when he shares his last sermon. Of course there are a lot of fine points I’m missing, but the scene is clear.
Here was a man who wanted to share the breadth of his knowledge in hopes of uniting humanity as one collective brotherhood in spirit and body. A metaphysical unity on a scale of Sagan units small. So, what do I believe? Read The Last Sermon and ask me that again.