Monday, July 6, 2009

God, Religions & Faith

SOME of my readers don't necessarily agree with my views, and although most of them don't comment in this blog, they do write to me occasionally via emails. Some of those emails in the past have led to interesting debates, whereas others were just plain criticisms with no room for discussions.

Amongst others, I've been severely criticised because of my views on religions in general. At other times, I have also been criticised because of my other opinions which were closely related to religious issues such as this and this. Every now and then, some new readers would stumble upon these articles, and then decide to write to me about them.

I have, through my replies to some of my readers, explained my position as far as God, religions and faith are concerned, but perhaps in the hope of sparing myself from repeating my explanation to some of my readers over and over again via emails, I thought maybe I might as well do it openly here now.

Firstly, the all important topic—God. I can't help but feel that my readers are unaware of my belief as far as God is concerned. Some of you have written to me, trying very hard to convince me of the existence of God. To be quite honest, I'm unsure of God's existence up to now. And therefore, I don't believe in religions—all of them. However, I'm inclined to believe in a creator. If that creator is God, then I suppose I do believe in God. My belief in a creator is not based on actual proof of his existence—I have never seen God with my own eyes, but I'm just guessing His existence based on indirect "evidence".

I see life, this world, everything in this universe as something which cannot happen by accident. Don't get me wrong, I am a believer of evolution. I'm convinced that it's absolutely possible that when some atoms react with each other at the right temperature, pressure and other conducive conditions, it is possible to create, say, a molecule. It is then possible for those molecules to react with one another to form other compounds, say amino acids. Futher reactions probably can lead to the formation of proteins and so on and so forth. It may take thousands and thousands of years, or even millions of years to form an amino acid. That is OK, I can accept it. All this can happen by accident. But then life is a bit different. I somehow can't believe that life happened by accident. Looking at the complexity of life—even that of a bacteria—I'm guessing that it must have happened by design—not out of a series of accidents. That's why I can believe in a creator. However, I have no material proof of it. I only believe it out of faith that it must be so!

Secondly, as far as religions are concerned, I must admit that I don't believe any of them. The Gods of the religions are essentially conceited beings who crave to be worshipped. At least that's how I see it. The Gods of the religions tell their subjects that they will be welcomed into heaven, but only if they followed the rules. And the most important rule of all is to accept God; to love him unconditionally, to fear him and worship him. If this all-important rule is not adhered to, then the kingdom of heaven will be out of the question, no matter how kind-hearted you are throughout your lifetime!

The Gods of the religions are also conceited in another sense. He has a strange habit of testing the loyalty of his subjects, which in itself is strange, because it has been said that God knows everything. If He knows everything, why then is there a need for him to test? There is no need, for example, for him to put the tree of knowledge in the garden of eden to test the weak humans. With his powers alone, he would have known the outcome of that test without actually carrying it out. Why the test? Why all the drama with the serpent who seduced Eve? Why all the complications? This kind of behavior seems too vulgar and does not ring true to the quality of an almighty and loving being.

No—if there is a God, I don't believe that he is the one who's found in any of the religions, though I'm not ruling out the possibility that I am wrong! This is of course just my own opinion and I accept that most of my readers disagree with me.

Thirdly, my views on religions—am I saying they're useless? No, I'm not saying that at all. I think religions are useful to many people. I have seen how religions have helped some people in the moments of trials and tribulations. Religions are also a good source of guidance to some people who're "lost". In some cases, people have told me that they gained strengths from religions. So all these must be sufficient to support the argument that religions are important to many, many people.

In fact, I myself learned a thing or two from religions. But I take only those which I think I can accept. Of the rest, I put big question marks on them. It's not so much that I'm challenging the truth; rather I'd prefer to trust myself instead of surrendering totally to faith.

Finally, the most important question that some people never failed to ask me: IF I am compelled to choose a religion, which one would I choose? And my answer has always been the same—without any doubt, I would choose Christianity. Don't get me wrong though, I don't believe many, many things found in the Bible—I hope the Christians won't hate me for this! And I have found many good teachings in other religions too. But I would still choose Christianity because many of the teachings in the Bible are similar to those of my life principles.


Anonymous said...

My Dad is an Atheist and has many of the same views as you do. I can understand both sides.

Anonymous said...

So what are these "principles" which have resulted in your inclination towards Christianity? Are these "principles" not also found in other religions?

Cornelius said...

Really, Sarah? Aren't you ever tempted to influence your dad about religion?

Cornelius said...

Anonymous friend,

There are several major issues, but perhaps it's not such a good idea to discuss them all here. Let me give just one example.

Christianity teaches no violence - unconditionally. When the prophet was about to be captured, his follower tried to defend him with a sword. But Jesus would not have any of it. No violence, period. He remained true to that teaching till the end. He was accordingly captured, tortured, and finally died on the cross. But he did not fight back. No violence from the beginning till the end.

Islam has a slightly different approach - it has Jihad. When provoked, we are allowed to react with force - even to kill the aggressor. And the concept of Jihad is subject to many different interpretations. So some people may consider blowing himself up together with his enemies as obeying the principles of Jihad.

I'm not here to agree or disagree with either one of these teachings. I am sure both sides have strong justifications to support their respective teachings. It is just that my own principle is similar to one of them. So it's easier for me to embrace the teachings if I have to.

Anonymous said...

Cornelius, no, I am not tempted. I can see both sides and also understand why he is the way he is. His personal life experiences with religion and religious schools/institutions left him bitter about religion, and a non conformist as far as christianity is concerned. I myself am a Muslim convert. I say live and let live. He is a grown man able to decide his own path, just as I have decided mine.

Coming from where I come from, seeing both sides of things, also makes me pretty liberal in my approach to life. It is all about perspective, I guess. :)

Cornelius said...

You are a rare one, Sarah. This is proof yet again that sometimes those who converted to Islam are much better than those who are born Muslims.

I think if most Muslims have your attitude, the Arab world would be more united and can become a very strong force in this world. But of course they are not.