I’m going to ramble today!
It’s been a big day for me – lots of work over the past 6-weeks has culminated in an event where my work was used extensively. Makes you feel valued and I know it is contributing to the ultimate wellbeing of other people so that is cool too.
Being a person who was once a believer, and now does not believe, does tend to give you a different perspective than a person who has never believed. As an example, there is a person in my office whose parents were atheists and raised their children as atheists. Their whole moral and ethical framework is built around values similar in some respects to Christian values, but reject any notion of God.
Someone earlier commented on the difference between Christianity and other religions being that other religions focus on ‘good acts’ but Christianity relies of ‘the grace of God’ for salvation. For an atheist there is no salvation, there is only the life you have. You can choose to be ‘good’, or you can choose to be ‘bad’ and the only penalties are the temporal variety.
I understand that a person of faith has no lesser free will, but it does seem paradoxical that a person can lead an evil life and be ‘saved’ at the end of it – a phenomenon we see often in the abhorrent halls of death row cell blocks. I don’t deny these people their chance at salvation – I’d rather there was no death row to begin with, but for a person without faith the responsibility to live a life that benefits others rather than harming them is always there.
Those that choose to live an evil life are going to do so regardless of whether or not they have a ‘religious’ aspect to their life – and it would be argued by many that this aspect is often a contributor to evil deeds (practically a hallmark of religion through the ages in fact).
To me, an atheist who decides to live their life in a way that serves others is a powerful example, but I think there is much to be learned from Christian values and also from the values of other theologies. Some though do stretch even my boundaries – and not for the reasons you might expect.
Wiccans. OK – I know there is this instinctive recoiling at the very concept of ‘witchcraft’. The modern movement known as wicca sells itself as ‘the old religion’ harking back to the pre-christian bronze age religions of western Europe and the British Isles. Why don’t I like it? All a bit of a hard sell for me – it has no real ties back to historical religious practices and is pretty much based on some recent work which is ambiguous at best about its origins. In brief – Fantasy and Fiction, works great in novels, espouses some nice values (and a darker side) but you might as well join the scientologists.
Ahhhh yes, the scientologists. Would you really join a religion founded by a Sci-Fi author that features alien ghosts as a core belief? And worse is that this mob seem to have skipped out on the values part of religion that has some redeeming value.
Moonies – chortle.
Raelians – snort chortle chortle.
Ok – I can see myself drifting into the ‘jump all over silly religions’ mode and I’m pretty sure that’s not the direction of Hamo’s blog but my point is that I get great value from speaking and interacting with many people of faith – but not all people of all faiths. There is a dividing line when beliefs are too extreme and too radically different to my own for me to have any valid relationship with a person or to see the value that they see in their belief system.
Its funny when you think that not so long ago this was posited as being the state of play between Catholics and Protestants and it was actively encouraged by both sides. So the point here is I suppose it is natural for me to look to the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths for inspiration in how I live my life. These areas have some values which I am comfortable with and many people who are excellent ‘witnesses’ by their actions towards others.
The common elements that I have trouble with are the bits about believing in God – can’t get past my barriers on that and the barriers grow bigger.killer movie movie