I have been alive for more than a half of a century. Not terribly old by some standards, but ancient by others, including my daughterâ€™s. I claim no intelligence above the median, and concede none below that benchmark. I am just a human being like six billion others on this planet. I have spent that lifetime, though, observing my fellow man in ways many others seem not to. I question motives, intents, and actions of almost everyone because they are, at the same time, both perplexing and interesting. Questioning doesnâ€™t equate to belief that peopleâ€™s action are more or less than what they appear to be, only as to why they are that way. I question my own actions too; often curious as to why I do the things that I do. Unfortunately, I find more questions than I do answers.
It seems to me that having control, or power, over other peopleâ€™s lives is a driving force in a majority of humans. I never notice this in animals. Oh sure, one could argue that a lion hunting itâ€™s prey is controlling the preyâ€™s life, but that is merely a search for sustenance, and I donâ€™t see the lion trying to manipulate the prey into being eaten. The control that I am concerned about is when one person seeks to have another follow his direction, and then take advantage of them, to further his cause. I am now about to make a lot of enemies. Religions, to me, are a prime example of this.
I grew up practicing the Catholic religion. I knew nothing else. I was led to believe, with good intent, that this way of life would be of great benefit to me. It wasnâ€™t until much later, after I heard intelligent people with opposing views that I began to question why Catholicism, and now all religion, is what it is. It is, I feel, a way to control and take advantage of the masses. I donâ€™t think that it started out that way, but evolved over time to what it is today. I think my biggest problem with it is: why people, who know nothing more about religion than what they are told by others, follow it blindly. Parents raise their children according to their own religious beliefs, starting generally at a very young age because they were raised that way by their parents. By the time that a childâ€™s brain has matured enough to reason intelligently based on factual data it is often too late. His â€œbeliefsâ€ have become â€œthe factsâ€. If he instead challenges popular belief, he becomes an outcast.
Donâ€™t get me wrong though, I am not bashing religion, only questioning it. Do I believe in God? Well, I believe in the possibility of God. I also think that if there is one, there could be more, (think of walking along and finding a hundred dollar bill on the ground, first thing you do is look for more). Same thing with God, if one exists, why couldnâ€™t there be more? He/She/It could also be completely different than anything we can dream up. If the concept that â€œGod always was and always will beâ€ applies, why couldnâ€™t it just apply to the universe as we know it? Problems arise when people fail to see all of the possibilities, including the chance that they may be wrong.
There are several hundred million Catholics in the world today. They are taught that it is better to die than to denounce their religion (Think Joan of Arc). They must be Catholics for life to get into heaven! That is all well and good until you realize that they are a mere fraction of the total of the religious belief of the world. There are a billion Chinese that believe differently, another billion Hindu and Buddhist. Islam is fast becoming the largest religion in the world. Jewish, Baptist, Methodist, Episcopalian, who can lay claim to being â€œrightâ€?
It never ceases to amaze me that otherwise intelligent people will defend something they have no evidence of to the death. If I were to tell you that my cousin could bring people back to life, could turn water into wine, and himself die and be resurrected, I would be looked at with many a wary eye. Say that it happened two thousand years ago, and all of a sudden people will say it must be true. It is written in The Bible! The book that, at best, was written by people in lands we are now at war with because of differences in beliefs. The stories have since been translated and rewritten so many times that the original stories, for that is what they are, stories, have most certainly been corrupted.
Now, back to that control and taking advantage thing I was talking about earlier. I am going to use Joel Osteen as an example. I have no particular grudge against him, donâ€™t even know the guy, but he is well known and a perfect example of the point Iâ€™m trying to make. Rest assured there are MANY others like him who use religion as a way to enrich themselves. He preys on believerâ€™s naivetÃ©, making them think that if they come to his church, and donate money, that their lives will be better. God will â€œblessâ€ them. Well, his life certainly will be better. His congregation of 40,000 meet each Sunday to listen to him say some words. The same words people could say to themselves at home. His weekly take in donations is ONE MILLION DOLLARS! One million dollars per week is a lot of money. Where does that money go? Well, it takes a heap of cash to produce a television show and pay all of those people. A lot goes to pay on the thirty year lease of the former Summit and its upkeep. Joel takes a quarter million dollar salary yearly. Iâ€™m not sure how much is left over after all the other bills, but this seems like an extremely inefficient way to help others. I have no knowledge of anything he spends helping others by the way. What if instead the congregation donated the one million per week for two years to build a shelter against hurricanes? A hundred and four million dollars would build a much better one than they makeshift places people stayed last year. And the 40,000 man hours each week spent sitting in a pew by that congregation adds up to 4,160,000 man hours over two years. Those hours could be better spent helping to build that shelter. In the end, all of those hours would actually help people with no middle man taking a huge cut. Wouldnâ€™t that please this God that they believe in more than just showing up at a church? And remember, this is just a single church Iâ€™m talking about, how much better would the world be if people just put that much effort into helping people directly. They could still do it â€œIn Godâ€™s nameâ€.
This is just one of many things that confuse me. However, if this makes somebody think about helping others directlyâ€¦
WORLD - CULTURE
Copyright © 2010 Geddy
Things That I Just Don't Understand
Copyright © 2010 Geddy
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