Religious Certainty…

2015-12-15_13-39-51.pngSome of the biggest problems today are caused by religious certainty. People who are very certain that their religion is better than all the others tend to want to impose the rules laid out in their Holy Book on everyone. They have little respect for the fact that some people are guided by other Holy Books, and other equally valid types of ideals based on values instead of beliefs.

Unfortunately this concept has spread into the political arena where religious literalists often try to impose their religious standards on our nation. They fight important social trends, like the acceptance of gays in the military, on grounds that apply only to one religion. They marginalize the interests of individual humans on grounds of certainty that their Holy Book is right. In acting this way, these people fight against the very principles on which the United States was founded.

But a crucial trait in spiritual development is the ability to do away with this type of certainty – especially religious certainty. The same person who holds absolute religious certainty often also needs simple, immutable answers about the reason for our existence and about what happens after death. They need certainty that their own beliefs are right in a way that makes all other belief systems seem wrong. It often brings with it a sense of superiority over others, and allows this type of person to not mind imposing the laws of his own beliefs on others. For people who need it, this type of certainty holds their world together.

SOURCE: Religious Certainty versus Certitude.

I don’t doubt the sincerity of those who hold onto a certainty in their religious beliefs. But the problem is they are certain that they have God totally figured out and everyone who disagrees with them is simply wrong.  Yes, there are many of this category in the Muslim world but there may be even greater numbers in the Christian realm where they call themselves biblical literalists.

I want to make it very clear here that I am a strong believer in freedom of religion as found in our constitution. Everyone should be free to believe whatever they want concerning their spirituality. I don’t hold anything against you if that is how you want to live your life but don’t try to impose your “truth” on everyone else.

Religious certainty is very appealing to those who have trouble making sense of today’s world. It gives them something to cling to. From the evidence that is the primary reason for so many who suddenly become jihadists in the Muslim world. They found something to cling to in an otherwise hectic and confusing world.

I choose to believe in a God of love who cherishes each of us the same whether we are Christians, Jews, Muslims, or any other flavor. If you choose to believe in a god who is constantly looking for something to punish you with eternal agony that is fine.  Maybe you need that in your life for whatever reason.

As long as your beliefs don’t affect me then by all means believe what you want. But when your dogma causes harm to the world as ISIL does then it is time for something else…..

The Root Cause of Much of Today’s Terrorism

2015-12-13_08-59-12.pngIn fact, friends invariably called the 28-year-old Farook a “very nice person,” while his landlord even described him as a “very gentle person.” He enjoyed working on old cars and shooting hoops. For her part, the 29-year-old Malik was seen as “a good girl” and a good student who aspired to be a pharmacist. Before dressing in austere Islamic clothing, she was even viewed as a “modern girl.”…

By all accounts, that switch was piety. They simply got closer to their religion, immersing themselves in Islamic scripture…

We saw the same transformation in the Tsarnaev brothers of Boston, who were considered “nice” and “normal,” even partiers — until their mother made them stick their noses in their holy books and get religion. Within a matter of just a couple of years of becoming more fervent in their Muslim faith, these “typical American boys” were making shrapnel bombs and blowing off limbs of innocent bystanders at the Boston Marathon to “punish” fellow Americans for supporting wars in Muslim lands…

A similar change came over the Chattanooga jihadist, Mohammad Abdulazeez, who was described as “very friendly” — until he became intensely observant in his faith and saw it as his religious duty to fatally gun down five soldiers in Tennessee earlier this year.

Moreover, two brothers suspected in last month’s Paris terror attacks were born-again Muslims as well. Reportedly, they really began to change around six months prior to the attacks, when they stopped drinking and started studying and praying.

This phenomenon is well documented in virtually every FBI case of homegrown American terrorism: the more religious, the more radical.  “They think they’re doing something good for Allah,” al Qaeda informant Morten Storm, a former Muslim, said. “They really believe that.”

Islam is not a “religion of peace,” and won’t be until most of its followers — the Taliban, the Ayatollah, ISIS, the Muslim Brotherhood, the mullahs of Saudi Arabia — reject tenets like jihad. To suggest otherwise is naive. Virtually everyone is hacking at the branches of this growing menace, and almost no one is striking at its root.

SOURCE: They’re ‘so nice,’ until they get religion and want to kill us | New York Post.

This is a very truncated report from this long article. If you are interested in this topic please read the entire article. I want to make it very clear that I am not against all Muslims anymore than I am against all Christians because of the KKK. But in all the recent cases of terrorism in the world the root is associated with that religion.

For those of us who have spent time studying the history of religions know that these times are not unique. Religion has been the cause for many of the world’s conflicts. The Crusades were probably the biggest example of religions going to war against each other but then there is also things like the Spanish Inquisition.

There can be no resolution for this latest round of religious wars until the Muslim religious leaders around the world reject portions of their religious documents that call for death to unbelievers.  But that is a very difficult thing to do. It is the same as asking the Christian biblical literalists to disavow portions of their religious document where God told his followers to kill everyone…

Until a religious anti-violence stand is taken there will always be those who “really believe” they are doing God’s work in killing others….

How Well Do You Know Religion?

2016-01-01_10-21-27.pngIn fact, religion is invariably a tangle of contradictory teachings — in the Bible, the difference between the harshness of Deuteronomy and the warmth of Isaiah or Luke is striking — and it’s always easy to perceive something threatening in another tradition. Yet analysts who have tallied the number of violent or cruel passages in the Quran and the Bible count more than twice as many in the Bible.

There’s a profound human tendency, rooted in evolutionary biology, to “otherize” people who don’t belong to our race, our ethnic group, our religion. That’s particularly true when we’re scared. It’s difficult to conceive now that a 1944 poll found that 13 percent of Americans favored “killing all Japanese,” and that the head of a United States government commission in 1945 urged “the extermination of the Japanese in toto.”

It’s true that terrorism in the 21st century is disproportionately rooted in the Islamic world. And it’s legitimate to criticize the violence, mistreatment of women or oppression of religious minorities that some Muslims justify by citing passages in the Quran. But let’s not stereotype 1.6 billion Muslims because of their faith. What counts most is not the content of holy books, but the content of our hearts.

Source:   How Well Do You Know Religion? – The New York Times.

The main reason I am posting about this article is the quiz that you can take to see just how much you know about religious documents. It was personally very enlightening to see the answers. Click on the source above to take the quiz.

I got 11 of the 14 questions correct because I have spent quite a bit of time studying this topic. Some of the ones I got wrong were mainly because I didn’t know the particular chapter or verse relating to the question. I admittedly am not a “bible thumper”.

The point of all of this is to say that most of our holy documents are strewn with violence no matter your religion. Taking these writings literally is where the major fault lies. If we view them for the history lessons they contain they are very informative. If we treat them as literal truth they can be very damaging…

Taking Personal Responsibility…

2015-11-13_09-22-23In my mind taking personal responsibility is a big part of the bedrock of what makes the U.S. a success story among the nations of the world. We encourage, some would even demand, that each of us take personal responsibility for our well being and especially for our future needs. The graphic to the right pretty well sums up the benefits and obstacles associated with personal responsibility. It starts with self control and eventually peaks with wisdom. Self control means that we make the choices necessary to provide the desired outcomes. All of us need to take personal responsibility for our actions and lives and to suffer the consequences when we don’t.

The Republicans among us are very adamant, maybe even paranoid, about personal responsibility.  They just don’t 2015-11-13_09-24-42seem to want any of our citizens to get something that they haven’t earned through personal responsibility.

  • why do most from the GOP establishment seem to encourage other nations shirk their responsibilities when it comes to defending their lands and their way of life?
  • Why do we let them insist that we, the U.S., must do almost everything in this area for them?
  • Why aren’t we letting others beyond our shores take personal responsibility?
  • Why are so many in the GOP  so against giving aid to our poorest citizens but at the same time eager to run in and taking over all the responsibility for almost all regional conflicts in the world?

Whenever there is a problem in the world, particularly the kind involving aggression, we seem to rush in telling everyone else “don’t worry we will take care of it for you”.

When it comes down to it isn’t ISIS just a group of Muslims who radically differ with the majority of that religion on how Islam is to be practiced. If I understand it right ISIS wants their version of the faith to be everything in its believers’ lives. They want every aspect of life, including government, to be controlled by their religious dogma much like it is in Iran. Wouldn’t you think that this is something that others in that religious group should be taking personal responsibility for? Why should the U.S. send our young people and spend so much of our tax dollars to do it for them? Isn’t that allowing Muslims to shirk their responsibility of controlling those within their own group?

Even the Middle East in general seems to always be one religious group battling another. Look at Iraq, or at least what there is left of it after our invasion. It seems every bomb that goes off and every killing that occurs is one religious belief fighting another.  It is Sunnis against Shiites against Kurds.  I kind of suspect that if Israel were not in the middle of all this stuff and the target of much of the anger in that part of the world, we would not be so interested in spending American human and monetary capital on the other side of the world.

I don’t know the answer to all this stuff that we keep getting ourselves into but I do know that insisting that others take personal responsibility for their circumstances is a big part of the solution.