IT’S ONLY A PAPER MOON

I noticed I have about an equal number of religious and atheist friends. That probably means I’m doing something right. If you get right down to it, I believe in you. And me. I believe in intelligence. I believe we each have the right to exercise our intelligence as we see fit.

I am a non-believer. This means I neither believe in a particular religion or dogma nor do I deny the possibility that faith may have its roots in truth.

No one can not prove there is a god, but no one can prove there isn’t one, either. It’s an unanswerable question. I will defend to the death your right to believe whatever you choose. It is your right to believe, disbelieve, question, argue. My right too.

I draw the line at anyone telling me what I should believe.

Steeple and sky
The white clapboard church in Uxbridge is finally under construction. They are doing what I suggested they do 15 years ago and turning it into a small museum for the town!

I dislike dogma. Religion by itself is not a problem. It’s the systems, the rules, the dogma that messes up the world. Dogma is a way to categorize everything, to put everything — including ideas — in boxes. If it doesn’t fit in a box, a properly dogmatic believer will beat, pummel, pound, and torture a person or concept until it fits.

I don’t want to be in a box.

Atheism is a leap of faith as is every religion. And it is a religion. My mother was an atheist, or so she declared herself. She wasn’t really an atheist, in my opinion. She felt betrayed by god. She felt that if there was a god, he wasn’t worthy of her faith.

Since no one can prove the existence or non-existence of god, I personally, I think we’d all be better off if everyone would stop trying. Leave it be. No one will be convinced by anything you say, so why not let everyone do their own thing, however weird you think it is? Maybe if we let others do their thing, they will be let us be crazy too.

It has to start somewhere. Why don’t we take the first step?

It’s fun to debate god, no god, religion, no religion, faith, no faith. Whatever. Big ideas, complicated concepts. It’s intellectual exercise. It makes great after dinner conversation, but that’s all it is.

When the last cookies have been eaten, the last wine drunk, it’s time to pack up the arguments and go home. That’s the way it ought to be.

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Categories: Personal, Religion

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8 replies

  1. I agree with your ‘live and let live’ approach. If everyone could learn to do that we would have far fewer problems. I don’t think dogma per se is the issue, it’s the compulsion to impose your dogma on others that causes problems.

    I’m curious about your clapboard church photo because of the location. I worked for many years in the English Uxbridge, a suburb on the north western outskirts of London (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uxbridge). Where is this US Uxbridge please?

    Like

    • Uxbridge is in south central Massachusetts and your Uxbridge is our “sister city.” I think they did that thing with exchanging items about a dozen years ago, so we have a bench from UK Uxbridge here in Uxbridge, MA. Uxbridge near London is huge. We are about 10,000 people, spread out over a considerable distance, so it’s a very small village, but a rather bigger town. We used to be more of a farming community but the land is not great and the “real” farmers either moved to places like Iowa or retired. Most of the farms now breed horses, miniature goats, miniature horses — for fun and often just because they have so much land, they feel they should do something. Otherwise, we have a lot of apples, some corn and other basic produce — tomatoes, cucumbers, squash. Basic stuff.

      It’s a very pretty area. Very full of trees and rambling roads. 100 years ago we were much bigger because there were factories all along the rivers, but the mills and factories are gone and they have done a pretty good job cleaning up the river. It’s a pleasant place to live, though a bit lacking in facilities. The nice part is you can get a pretty big piece of land and a really nice old house for a lot less money than anywhere else in Massachusetts. I think only Maine is less expensive.

      Also beautiful, but again — not much going on!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. By making this statement “Religion by itself is not a problem. It’s the systems, the rules, the dogma that messes up the world” you are in fact passing judgement on those who choose to live by rules of their religion and practice it. Are you really letting others “do their thing” ? Or looking down your nose at those who find meaning in religion? My keeping Shabbos does not “mess up the world” nor do I care if you keep shabbos or not. My friends come from all backgrounds, Jewish, Christian, believers and non believers.

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    • The problem with dogma is that dogmas means principles — or rules. That’s what the word means. Religion doesn’t inherently include dogma but I’m not sure there’s any religion that doesn’t have some version of it.

      A lot of people claim to be religious — and aren’t — and within every religious group, there is a HUGE amount of controversy about “what’s right and who says so.” As a Jew, I always assumed Christians were better about it than we were only to discover I was wrong. The in-fighting in Christian churches with which we’ve been involved has been endless battling of elders, deacons, ministers and pastors or whatever they call them in each group.

      That’s why I think everyone should just shut up about it. If we just left religion out of our secular lives, it would make the world so much more pleasant.

      It really ISN’T a judgement because I find religion fascinating. I just hate being told what I should think. After ten years living in Israel where at least half our friends were seriously and deeply orthodox and the rest didn’t believe in anything but thought that the believers would take care of us because they believed so much better — it would be hard to be judgmental. Several of my best friends including bosses, friends, co-workers were very religious. Every now and again, they’d suggest a book I might want to read — and I read them. I even went to school to get a better grip on Judaism because I didn’t learn anything at home. I find it fascinating, but I don’t seem to be able to find a space in it that is mine. It’s not a judgment. It’s just not liking being told what to think.

      Liked by 1 person

      • No one is telling you what to think Marilyn, you seem to be imposing that on yourself and making blanket statements about what exactly people are claiming to be, and that there is a problem with rules and principles. You interpret those “rules and principles” as being stifling and causing infighting and judgement, instead of focusing on how those principles and rules offer some people meaning in their life. You say, “If we just left religion out of our secular lives, it would make the world so much more pleasant.” Maybe for you, but my beliefs enrich my life as do many of the practices I adhere to. I do not impose what I do on others nor do I care what anyone chooses to believe or not believe. Obviously organized religion isn’t for you as you don’t want anyone telling you how to live. I do not see it that way at all. You have made your choice, but I think it is unfair to think the world would be better off without religion because you aren’t interested in it.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I really wasn’t pointing fingers, but yes, it has happened. There are groups of people who are very pushy about it, too. Fortunately, living so rurally, those groups don’t bother to come out here. They like cities and suburbs. Thjis far out in the country, there aren’t enough people living close together. When we lived in Boston and New York, it got kind of obnoxious.

          There really ARE people who, if you give them the chance, will tell you what you should think. Give them an inch and they want the whole yard. I find them annoying. If you have never been hit be evangelical groups selling their version of religion, lucky you.

          I don’t think the world would be better off without religion, but I also think faith is personal and doesn’t belong in our public schools or as part of our government. On the other hand, I never saw the harm in celebrating anyone’s holidays and think some of the rules are overkill. I’m not in charge and I don’t make the rules.

          You should reread what I said because I didn’t say that the world would be better off without religion. I just think that convincing others to do your thing is out of bounds unless they are genuinely interested.

          I’m very interested in religion and faith and I wanted my degree in Religion, but my college didn’t offer the degree. I don’t think they offer it yet. It’s offered at some schools and rarely as a BA. Usually, it is a masters or Ph.D. When I was ready for a master’s, I had a husband with cancer and decided further education was going to have to wait. I needed a job. Like so many married women with kids, I never got back to school. Work won.

          I never lost my interest. It’s still alive and well. As long as no one is preaching at me, I’m fine. I’m really enjoy people who have found faith and it makes them happy. I think you are very lucky to have found something in which you believe and feels right.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. The only thing I have against religious people is when they feel compelled to tell me that they are right and I am wrong. I don’t care if they think they’re right. I think, as an atheist, that I’m right. But I don’t think my role is to persuade others to accept my beliefs in order to save their souls or in order to be moral people. If believing in God and following the dogma and participating in the rituals helps someone get through the day, cool. If not believing in God works for others, that’s cool too. Hey, whatever floats your boat.

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    • Yup. Although I’m always interested in what people believe. I’m fascinated by religion and how people live it, how they find some way to make that “leap” from non-belief to faith. I’ve never been able to make that jump and yet I’m pretty sure I believe in something. I just don’t know what and at this point, I probably never will. I think that religion make very poor conversation unless someone is genuinely interested and if more people would simply leave it alone, we’d ALL get along better. The less of a believer you are, the more you are going to dislike being told what you should think.

      Liked by 2 people

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