I found a site today called tauquil that has a post titled ‘Is Religion the Root of all Evil’. This is a mini-series showing some work by Richard Dawkins (a British scientist specializing in evolution) who goes out and interviews religious fundamentalists. I think it is unfortunate that he asks the question ‘Is Religion at the root of all evil’ when the real question is ‘Is Religious Fundamentalism at the root of all evil’. I would say “no” to the former and “yes” to the latter.
I am not myself a person of great faith but neither am I an atheist. I believe in the spirit (my own, yours, the zeitgeist of the culture, the powers that be) but not in any formal way. I recently watched a great documentary about Tibet called ‘Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion’ which is about how China has invaded and destroyed Tibet with impunity. Shameful, shameful, shameful on the part of the US who worked very hard to keep Tibet free before Nixon and Kissinger brought the cold war to an end and Coca-Cola and KFC to China which necessitated playing nice with China by not defending Tibet. But I digress. What I got out of that movie in addition to my outrage about Tibet is the sense that I am inherently a Buddhist – sort of. I believe in starting every day anew; I believe that harboring resentment, shame and remorse are useless and I believe somewhat in fate. The “sort of” part comes because I also believe that luck favors the prepared and that you tie up the camels and then trust in God.
I sometimes envy people of greater faith. It would be nice to be able to attribte more to God and less to what John Gardner referred to as the ‘hit and miss of the cosmic pumpkin’ but I’m afraid I err on the random noise side. It would be nice to have a stronger belief in what happens after you die other than that you are gone (again, I’m a little short in the Buddhist arena, there). If something bad happens it would be nice to believe that it is for a reason. I don’t believe that. I don’t believe that people die in car accidents so that their surviving family members can grow stronger in faith, or have a reason to work for MADD or something like that. I think people die in car accidents because there are bad drivers out there and bad road conditions and things just happen sometimes. I don’t see how a good and merciful God can bestow the blessing of new life on a young couple and then have the mother die of cancer or the father die in a war. To me believing it is all about God is just the desperate act of trying to make the insane seem somehow rational and the incomprehensible acceptable. But be that as it may the faithful derive comfort from their beliefs and to them I say, good for you, there is nothing evil about it as long as you don’t think I’m a bad person for not sharing your faith.
Anyhow, enough about me. I thought that the debate profiled in that post was interesting and the blog is just full of fun stuff (check out the archives) so I give it those of you who don’t already have it as my Monday “let’s have a great week” kick-off. And on that note I think I’ll go back to rambling locally instead of globally.
As an extremely liberal person who was raised by atheist wolves in the wilderness, I frequently restrain from posting about religion (and politics) on my web log – I admire that you do. I feel compelled to comment on this entry for the sheer fact that religion, Tibet and evil are my three favorite topics . . . my comment should probably end here, but no – I will go on, although I’m quite certain it will make no sense.I am not anti-religious by any stretch of the imagination – but, I am quite disturbed with the abrasive “in-your-face” style and inability to appreciate difference as seen in most popular religions – and I personally believe that if you trace this back to it’s origin; you can find the stem of evil. That said, the Tibetan traditional beliefs are of my favorites among religions, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, in my opinion outshines all modern religious leaders.
Susan you are a woman after my own heart. Want to go to Italy next year to run a marathon? Stefano says “come on over!”
“…tie up the camels and then trust in God.”That echoes a lot of world religion ideas. I once heard a rabbi explain it as “surrendering yourself to the universe.” The Bhagavad-Gita calls it “renouncing the fruit of your actions,” or devoting the fruit to God.I really enjoyed looking over your blog, and have written a quick review of it on my blog, even tho I’ve decided to rent out to another bidder from BE. Thanks for bidding!Peace,Tor