Saturday, March 23, 2013

I sometimes wonder to myself: Is religion making this world a better place or is it doing the opposite? I am sure that I am not the only one with these types of questions. I am certain there must be someone out there who has thought likewise. Religious people -- be they Christians, Muslims, Jews, or otherwise -- are supposed to show a better example. Are they?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Religions, People, and Wars

Religion, to me, is whatever means people use to connect to what they perceive to be the supreme power. For instance, what I perceive to be my supreme power is God, the Almighty. Some people may consider money, power, or eternal life to be their supreme power.

It is inconceivable that people who believe in God would intentionally cause the death of other human beings. Unfortunately, this has been the case throughout history.

People start wars and use religion to justify their actions. They display hatred and then hide behind religion in order to rationalize their disposition.

Religion is no longer about the sacred. It seems also as if people have lost the standard as to what is considered to be sacred.

Are the existing religions corrupt? Or is it the people who are corrupt? Can religion corrupt people? Or is it people who corrupt themselves? Can people corrupt religion? Actually, though it may be difficult to believe, people cannot corrupt religion. They can, however, corrupt their perception of religion. And given that, beside the deity, it is human beings who are the major players, they can create a deceptive layer around religion so to shape it the way they would like it to serve them. It is in this context that people start wars in the name of God or religion.

Let’s wake up and smell the stench. Religion does not speak a language of war, but of peace. By the same token, true religious people do not speak a language of war, but of peace. Only corrupt religious people speak a language of war in the name of their pseudo religion. Hence, wars come from people; not religions. The truth is that the combination of religion plus people cannot lead to war.

The equation “religion + people = war” is not right. It can only mean one thing: something is wrong. Just like there is no way in math that the addition of two positive values would produce a negative sum, there is no way that the association of religion and people, in its pure sense, would produce a negative result such as war. Something is wrong. And that something is not religion, but people—fallen people.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Religion Is Not the Source of World Conflicts (Part 2)

Many people, including religious people, believe that religion is the source of conflicts we see around the world. However, what most people do not realize is that there is one thing that all conflicts have in common. And that one thing is not religion but human beings.

It is not religion but human ignorance that causes conflicts, be it at a family level or world level. It is the ignorance that people have with regard to the value of human life, God’s nature, His will, His word, His desires, His intentions, and His plans. This ignorance translates into people’s misunderstanding of the preciousness of human life, God’s nature, His will, His word, His desires, His intentions, and His plans.

Take the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine for instance. Which of the two involved religions is the source of the conflict? Is it Judaism? Is it Islam? It is actually neither. It is rather the believers of those religions who have caused and fueled the said conflict through their misunderstanding of the teachings of their religions.

Yet, when we look at around the world, we can see that believers of both religions can live peacefully as neighbors when in other parts of the world. Case in point, when you go to some parts of Borough Park in Brooklyn, New York, you find Jews and Muslims (as well as other people) roaming the streets, visiting the same bank, and living as neighbors without any conflict. If religion really was the source of conflicts, shouldn’t the war between Jews and Muslims extend to wherever they lived, be it in Europe or the United States? How come this conflict prevails only in Palestine and nowhere else? Is religion really the source of this conflict or is it the people?

A few days ago, on Tuesday, November 23rd, the North and South Korea exchanged gunfire. Was religion the source of this exchange? Is religion even the source of conflict between North Korea and South Korea? If we claim that religion is the source, then we will have to answer the following questions: Which religion is the source of the Korean conflict? Is it Buddhism? Is it Christianity?

We know that South Korea is a very religious country. As such, South Koreans try their best to avoid conflict with their northern counterpart for they believe that they are all but one people. By contrast, it is a well known fact that North Korea is not a religious country. Now, if religion was the source of world problems and conflicts, shouldn’t South Korea be the aggressor between the two countries? It would have supported the belief that religion is the source of world conflicts because, between the two countries, South Korea is the one where religion is prevalent. Why are therefore the South Koreans not the instigators? Instead, it is those without religion, the North Koreans, who are the instigators. Can those who claim that religion is the source of world conflicts do so with certainty?

If religion, belief in a deity, were the source of conflicts, wouldn’t there be war in every nation all over the world? Religion brings peace and balance in human society. Given that there has been conflict even where religion has not been prevalent, we cannot say for certain that religion is the source of conflicts we see around the world. It is humanity rather than religion that is the source of conflicts.

I am in no way ignoring the fact that people have used religion to start and fuel conflicts. My point is that those who have done so acted on their misunderstanding which was caused by their ignorance of their own value, the value of others, and the nature of God, His will, His word, His desires, His intentions, and His plans.

Religion is not the source of world conflicts; people are.

Enjoy your holidays!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Religion Is Not the Source of World Conflicts

It is a strong belief of mine that religion is not the source of the conflicts we see in the world; people are. And I really hope that more people will embrace this understanding so as to give to religion the consideration it deserves.

Although the representatives of all the major religions are involved in a war or two, none of these religions teaches violence as the solution to disagreement or death of innocents as an answer to injustice. Any use of force as a solution is not a precept of any major religion but an expression of a serious misunderstanding on the part of believers. This is true for all of these major religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

How many believers does each of these major religions have? What fraction of these believers promotes the unthinkable? How can it be concluded that religion rather than people is the source of world conflict when it is only the minority of believers that spread terror? Why are people so keen to sullying the reputation of religion? Who benefits when religion is demonized? Shouldn’t the majority of believers be conflict lovers if religion was the source of world conflicts? Think about it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

My take on Bill Maher’s documentary -- Religulous

Today, my wife and I watched Bill Maher’s Religulous. It is a thought provoking documentary, to say the least. Just like other critics of religions, Bill Maher believes that religion is the source of all, if not most of, the world problems. It still surprises me that people fail to distinguish human responsibility from what religion offers.

I however agree with Bill Maher that all the religious scriptures we hold dear have been written by human beings. Hence, we cannot blindly affirm that they are flawless. This is a strong statement to make, but, truth be told, it was men’s minds and hands that scribed whichever revelation or recollection of spiritual experiences they have had; not God Himself.

Religulous is a documentary that uses a non-religious approach to confront religiosity. Bill Maher basically contends that when religious people become fanatics, stop thinking rationally, religion can become a destructive force. So he calls on rational people, those who are not blinded by religion, to come out of hiding and help right the wrong caused by religion.

Bill Maher uses his background and know-how of a comedian and journalist to push interviewees to the brim, make them uncomfortable (probably unintentionally), surprise them with some faith challenging questions, and, from time to time, relax them with a joke or two.

It is a good documentary that I recommend to anyone who has an open mine, for it really got me thinking.

(Check out the trailer below)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Religion and the World

Somehow, I woke up this morning with this question in my head: Would the world be a better place without religion?

There is no doubt that some people will respond with a resounding “YES.” This is because history has shown us that there are people who have committed some heinous crimes in the name of religion. But, think about it. Seriously. What would the world be without religion? What would people be and do without religion?

Are there good people out there who are not religious? Of course. However, it is worth mentioning that the existence of religion has, to some extent, contributed to making some of those good non-religious people good.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Religion—Who Needs It?

Do people need religion?

Look at the world around us. There is war, conflict, division, racism, slavery, hate, and many other atrocities that are caused by people who practice one religion or another.

Who needs religion when its existence creates or contributes to, among other things, pain, misery, manipulation, chagrin, division, resentment, caste system, etc.?

No wait! Maybe I should have asked a different question: Who is the cause of these ungodly practices—religion or people? I believe that it is, not religion, but people who are the cause of these ungodly practices.

People do indeed need religion to keep them from committing more heinous acts. When practiced properly, religion averts people from evil and its byproduct. But when misunderstood and used for selfish reasons, religion can become the source of inspiration for the most ungodly and deadliest cruelty.

Now, who needs religion?

Ironically, it is people who consider themselves religious, especially extremists and fanatics, who need religion. I am not talking about religion corrupted by “religious” people, but religion in its authenticity. If and when people practice their religions the way God and the founder of their respective religion wanted it to be understood and practiced, there will be no more war, conflict, division, racism, slavery, hate, and the like.

Who needs religion? We all need itin its pure form.