Monday, May 30, 2011

THE JOYFUL ALTERNATIVE TO (CONVENTIONAL) RELIGION

Conventional religion teaches: That there is a God--who loves us---sends prophets--inspires authoritative books or men--sometimes inspires us directly---establishes churches--has incarnated (became flesh)---expects obedience/adoration--will send us to hell if we don't believe.

Here's how I see the situation and what I recommend: We all wake up in the middle of a mystery---not really knowing any ultimate answers about ORIGIN or DESTINY. ( How the universe began and what is our place in it.)

Adults feed us their "take" on these two questions and most of us "buy into" their story. (or occasionally some other prevalent story.) And we then live our lives more or less within that version of reality.

I SAY IT IS A DISHONORABLE WASTE OF LIFE TO LIVE IT IN SERVICE TO ANY LOCAL MYTH. ( as inappropriate as grown-up birds still feeding on the regurgitation of their parents.) Here's my idea of a joyful alternative:

1. EDUCATE YOURSELF ON THE ORIGIN OF RELIGION. You can get the gist of it in minutes by googling the origin of religion. It becomes clear how it evolved from magic, superstition, animism, totems, traditional tales and finally into full blown metaphysical theories.

2. WAKE UP TO THE FACT THAT WE LIVE IN A MYSTERY. (Re:origin and destiny)

3. EMBRACE THE MYSTERY. Consider that it may have been designed that way--mysterious--as an intentional, possibly pleasurable, adventurous, growth producing, loving--gift to us. Get comfortable with not knowing any ultimate answers---develop an heroic tolerance for ambiguity.

4. USE EINSTEIN'S TECHNIQUE---THOUGHT EXPERIMENTS---to explore some possibilities. (he imagined himself riding a light beam and discovered a new "take" on physics.)

5. IMAGINE NEW POSSIBILITIES regarding our origin and destiny:

a. What if----God disappeared itself INTO THE UNIVERSE---condensing itself into matter--becoming galaxies, stars, planets, people---just for the grand adventure of slowly evolving matter back into spirit. Creation/evolution. (Hinduism? Pantheism?) Imagine your place in that scheme. (e.g., help push evolution forward)

b. Imagine that God bypasses Prophets and Holy books to personally guide each of us in our journey. (a subtle small voice within us) (Wayne's take on the matter?)

c. Imagine that there are not one but two primary forces at work in the world---at war with each other---each vying for your soul. (Zoroastrianism---my friend Gr?)

d. Imagine that there is no God---no human destiny. How would you spend your time?

e. Imagine that there is a God but he doesn't intervene in the world--no messages--no miracles--just watches the drama unfold. (Deism?)

EXPERIMENT WITH YOURSELF. Imagine a theory that appeals to you and try it on for size. Live for a time "as if" that theory were true. Does it feel right? Does it work for you? Does it need a bit of tweaking? Tweak it. If it doesn't feel "right" try another. Try living as if there were no God---How does that feel.

SHARE YOUR RESULTS: Share your experiences with your friends--with the world. Someone might have useful suggestions.

CONCLUSION: Believing is a cowardly cop out from the challenge of engaging mystery. The Joyful alternative to (conventional religion) is to create your own religion/philosophy. Join the rest of us freethinking/experimenters as we do for religion what wikipedia has done for data. We all join in the process of improving (or abandoning perhaps) metaphysics.
We have all been victimized by bad metaphysical/religious theories. Preachers, Prophets and Priest have lied to us with pretensions of certainty and "revealed" ethics. I say we can take these matters of ultimate concern into our own hands; that obedience to "Gods Will" is not as interesting a life as creative responsiveness to this dazzling mystery.

10 comments:

Wayne (Wirs) said...

Bravo Randy! I am a HUGE supporter of self-experimentation. Find it out for yourself! My second favorite saying: "The difference between a smart man and a wise man is the wise man has a lot of scars (from experimenting)."

Of course my all time favorite saying is, "The less there is of you, the more there is of Her." (My take on Her/God's whispers (5b above)). :)

Grace said...

a. God, the universe, and us. We are all energy. We are interconnected.
b. God does guide us as a subtle, small voice within us -- if we ask -- otherwise He would be interfering with free will. If we hear Him/Her someone will no doubt call us insane. Organized religions discourage talking directly to God since there’s no money in it.
c. There are two forces at work. The one in need of worship, obedience, punishment and sacrifice – that’s the dark one. Both the light Angels and the dark Angels have the ability to make suggestions. We’re happier when we listen to our light Angles. I’m not sure that Zoroastrianism thinks that way. (I had to look it up)
d. I thought there was no God for many years but He kept interrupting.
e. God doesn’t intervene much – free will and all that. He created mortal bodies; so He expects us to die. We’re the ones who feel God has failed us if someone we love dies.
Hugs,
Gr?

john patrick said...

Nicely said, Randy. Thank you.

I realized awhile back that to "believe" something means that one does not know. For instance, we don't say we believe we have a body. Or that we are human. We say matter-of-factly, that we know such and such.

To believe, is to not know.

The other idea I want to introduce is myth-swapping. While it may be beneficial to give up a religion that sacrifices virgins to a volcano (especially if you are a virgin) it does not lead one closer to the truth to believe that nailing someone to a cross is a more evolved/spiritual path to follow...

Myth-swapping may be beneficial to some, as a lizard may now live as a frog. But perhaps, they were intended to have wings.

Brit said...

Great Post Randy.

Some years ago I learned the difference between religion and spirituality.

To me, Spirituality is the understanding that we are all a small part of something bigger, be that a collective social network, or a even an immense continuum of spiritual entities, or both.

Religion is just a way some people have devised to celebrate their beliefs and impress them upon other people they say they care about.

Kudos for chiming on one of the taboo topics.

Sondra said...

I have never been able to embrace Religion or the idea of A GOD..there is a connection between us and the planet, the universe because it is all in sync-we are to it as it is to us--
Now I think the Earth is preparing itself for anohter species to rise to the top...human existance on the planet is not guarenteed--We best enjoy what we have whilst we have it-
SOME people tho enjoy thinking that there is a God Watching over them, and it actually adds to their life, so to me if the choice is comforting then so be it, if its NOT then no way--I feel sorry for the ones who have surrendered their lives to religion of any kind--from Mormon to Muslim to Mennonite to Buddhist--anything that takes OVER your Soul is NOT a good thing..alcohol, drugs, sex, the love of one man or one woman--

Jim said...

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SONDRA: "...SOME people tho enjoy thinking that there is a God Watching over them, and it actually adds to their life, so to me if the choice is comforting then so be it..."
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Voltaire provides the best summary of WHY it is dangerous for folks to believe "whatever" as if there is no negative consequence for cultivating nonsense:

"As long as people believe in absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities."
-Voltaire (Fran├žois-Marie Arouet)

Worse yet, their personal stupidity/ignorance gets compounded as they indoctrinate children (their own and those of others) and then admonish those too young to question much of anything that if they even question what they've been "taught" inside their own little skulls, they are laying out the welcome mat for mighty and fearful Satan to enter in and consume their little lives.
===========
"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
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sail4free
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matt said...

"Therefore whatever you desire for men to do to you, you shall also do to them; for this is the law and the prophets." -Matthew 7:12

That's it. Simple idea but hard to execute.

Jack said...

The only element of any religion that I find useful is the Buddhist notion of mindfulness, to be fully present in the here and now. Metaphysical questions are a waste of time and energy because the answers are unknowable. In fact, any thought regarding the past or future is a waste of time and energy because the past is already gone and the future is not yet here, or even guaranteed for that matter.

Anonymous said...

Randy, these are the best two representations of your years-in-the-making philosophy you've ever written. I've sent a link to your blog to Steve -- odd, I just handed him Sam Harris's book today (you sent it to me a while back)!
No criticism except this reminder: nouns ending in ST still need an S at the end to make them plural; i.e., priest, priests; Baptist, Baptists. (Still your editor! LOL)

Anonymous said...

Closer to Truth is a pretty heady show I get on a local pbs station KCSM late night. Also a good web site for religious research.
Castello