“God has no religion.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
There are few subjects of debate which stir up emotions as heavily as the one about religion and its corresponding systems of belief. However, I feel that these discussions are pointless and only serve to satisfy the self-indulgence of believers and non-believers alike who think they’ve got it all figured out. The truth is that more often than not the people who engage in these discussions are bad listeners and show little interest in trying to understand the other point of view. In this post I will show that we’re much more similar than superficial appearances may suggest, and that it’s really easy to get along even when you see things differently.
- Look for meaning
You can ask someone whether they believe in God or not, but this is a useless question when you have different ideas about what God means to you. Even atheists have an idea about what God means to them, because how else would they be able to deny its existence? When someone asks me if I believe in God I asnwer neither yes nor no, but instead I tell them what God means to me. When we get to that point there is no more use in discussing the existence, because the meaning does exist whether you agree or not. Miscommunication is what most discussions regarding God turn into.
I think people shouldn’t engage into discussions unless they’re interested to hear the other side of the story. There is simply no use in debating when people only shout back and forth, while lacking even the slightest amount of decency to let the other finish. It’s the difference between thinking you know everything and being open to learn something new. It’s the difference between dogma and open-mindedness. In that sense many atheists are just as dogmatic as the believers that they try to convince, but they fail to see how similar they really are. After all, it takes two to have a never-ending discussion.
The point is that when we look for meaning we may hear something that actually sounds familiar to us, but is only wrapped in a paper that we haven’t seen before. The mistake is getting caught up with the paper wrapping, instead of looking at the substance inside. If a believer would tell an atheist that God means love to him, would the atheist then deny the existence of love? In the same way the discussion whether prophets like Jesus existed is not important, because love, compassion and tolerance undoubtedly do exist. It is a symbol that can be used to connect to those precious qualities.
- Double standards
It’s pure irony that a lot of people have double standards. There are atheists who religiously believe in their political leaders, financial and scientific authorities, which is just as irrational as the beliefs that they oppose. In the same way there are christians and muslims who do not exercize as much as a shred of the love and compassion towards strangers like it is written in the Holy books. Just to point out that talk is cheap. Those who actually walk their path often don’t put much value into having those kind of discussions. It’s a thing of the mind and doesn’t have much to do with reality.
Of course there is a reason for the impopularity of religions, which has much to do with the religious institutions that accompany them. The idea of double standards applies even more when we shift our gaze to institutions like the Vatican. Basically, they’re mobsters in robes. The Vatican has been guilty of quite a bit of controversy including sexual abuse of children and investments in the weapons industry. The way in which they manage their public relations is also despiccable, as hypocrite and unjust statements only serve to spoil their reputation even more.
Islam also has a bad reputation in the Western world, but this is mostly because of the news which continuesly links Islam with terrorism. Of course this is nothing short of propaganda designed to indoctrinate the minds of people. Of course there are people who use Islam to recruit soldiers who are willing to fight to their death for questionable causes. The bottom line is that religion is used to move the masses for political reasons, which has been done since the Crusades. In short these religions have been hijacked by people with bad intentions and by doing so have casted a shadow on something that is supposed to bring good to the world.
- Experience holds truth
For many people religion gives them a tool to have a spiritual experience. When it comes to talking about religion, I think that is the point where a conversation should be headed. In the end it is the experience of a person which holds the true value of whatever they choose to follow or believe. When others don’t show interest in this it’s basically disrespecting their way of life, while criticizing something they don’t understand. However, it’s not words that change people, but experiences. A profound experience holds an infinitely larger amount of meaning and power than any book full of words can.
It makes me wonder why people get caught up in those arguments in the first place. Some are probably so self-absorbed and insecure that they’re looking for ways to confirm to themselves how smart they are. Others may actually be subconsciously looking for a spiritual experience and are hoping to get some kind of meaningful response through their provocations. The truth is that you don’t need religion or any kind of system of belief to have a spiritual experience. In fact, I would go as far as to say that love by itself is a spiritual experience. I think anyone can relate to that, because we’ve all experienced love in our lives one way or another.
With all that in mind, I think it would be good if people were to respect each other’s experiences, because they all hold truth. It’s impossible to communicate with someone else if you deny that person’s truth. It’s also important to realize that seemingly different truths do not exclude each other. Quantum physics shows us that particles can be waves at the same time, which is the foundation of our physical existence. If that is true, then that really leaves no space for absolutism. Rather, it’s about harmony in diversity. Respect, share and enjoy!