Dagdha's Blog

Religion

Posted in Uncategorized by dagdha on September 22, 2008

I shall preface my entry by stating that I have experienced the dichotomous poles of religion, and it is not my wish to incite any type of theological polemic. I merely wish to express my points of view vis-a-vis religion and its subsequent fallibility as a mortal institution. After all, what day is more appropriate than the Christian Sabbath for such a prosaic undertaking?

I was raised for seventeen years as a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), or more commonly referred to as Mormonism. For years I went to church, repeatedly read all of the doctrinal literature, firmly believed that I was a follower of God’s true church, and even abstained from swearing, drugs (caffeine included), and compromising situations with members of the opposite sex. I never aspired to be or do very much in this mortal realm, for I was confident that my reward would be a higher salvation in the afterlife. Suffice it to say, I cannot look back on my earlier days without a sense of contempt for my own ignorance and naivety. I was a poster child for the clichĂ© adage “ignorance is bliss.”

Towards the latter portion of my post-pubescent high school years, I began venturing into personally unknown realms of human experience by watching movies with restricted ratings and eventually starting my first serious relationship. From there I began my nihilistic journey away from any kind of religious dogma, assisted by copious amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol and unholy acts of fornication. The year that followed was like a poorly plagiarized version of James Joyce’s preliminary masterpiece A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Like the story’s primary protagonist, things did not stabilize or get better until I moved away from all the influences of my previous indoctrination.

Upon moving to Irvine and commencing my new life as a liberal university student, I began to explore my own personal beliefs in a healthier, more unbiased environment. The next half decade provided me with many opportunities to study various religions from different vantage points, and ultimately I have concluded that I am a Deist, although perhaps only because I cannot rid myself entirely of two decades worth of indoctrination and brainwashing.

I do not believe that religion is inherently bad. On the contrary, I firmly believe that for most people it does more good than harm by providing them with a sense of comfort and moral ground that they could not find elsewhere. Personally, however, I think organized religion is an inherently fallible institution run by imperfect men as an excuse for the inexplicable, which is universally the same of every religion ranging from the polytheistic pagan Greeks to the monotheistic Roman Catholics and Western Protestants.

In my experience, most devoutly religious people I know are fundamentally more prejudice than their lackadaisical or atheist counterparts – a crucial contradiction considering that the underlying principle behind any major modern religion is love and compassion.* In many ways, I feel that the ancient pagan religions of the West were more morally correct than today’s Abrahamic denominations (I am of course speaking about the traditional practice of pagan religious worship and not the embellished Christian tales of human sacrifice and demonic witchcraft).

The Greeks and Romans, as a more predominant example, were organized around polytheistic religions that produced a shame-based culture in which a person was driven to be morally good for the sake of their reputation within society and ultimately with the gods. Honor was the motivating mechanism to do good. On quite the contrary, modern monotheistic religions have produced a ubiquitous guilt-based culture, where people are motivated by fear to abstain from morally ‘wrong’ behavior – fear of hellfire and brimstone. Like Lenin’s useful idiots, many religious zealots wholly dedicate their time and resources for a promised, intangible reward whose only alternative is an eternity of excruciating suffering.

All pretentiousness and philosophical biases aside though, the tragedies of history and barbarism of the modern world seem to negate the idea that there is a god who unconditionally loves all mankind. After all, man is capable of as much atrocity as he is imagination.

This current point of view may be spurred on by my recent return to living at home and the subsequent bombardment of religious admonition I receive. Nevertheless, these are my current feelings and beliefs.

*(I would argue that truth is the second fundamental pillar of modern religion, yet every religion has its own secrets it hides from outsiders).

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