Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Shouldn't you try before you buy?

I'm talking about trying out religions. Of course 'try before you buy' applies to everything, but wouldn't one of the most important things to be sure about be...oh, eternity maybe? As much as it would suck to fork out thousands of dollars for a car and soon find out it's a lemon, that's a pretty small price to pay as opposed to the investment of your whole life in which your return is either a blissful eternity or burning in hell. And for those who think we're all going to heaven and hell is a bunch of nonsense, try reading the Bible sometime.

In case you don't know already, I am an atheist. I don't think there is a God at all. I could be wrong, but so could you if you believe, so we're all just doing what we makes the most sense to us. I can understand why people are driven to a belief in God, even though I personally don't believe. But following a particular religion does not make much sense to me at all.

Quite simply, they can't all be right. You don't have to think too hard to figure that out. So which one is it? Well, surely most people upon reaching a certain age will endeavour to go over all of them and figure this out, right? Well, no. Apart from a minuscule number of people who convert to different religions later in life (and often to appease the person they wish to marry who is of the other religion) how can anyone settle on the religion they were born into? There are so many different ones, and only one can be right, so why are so many people so sure that they were conveniently born into the right one?

It's no different than being born in a small town with no character and the only places to eat are at chain fast food restaurants, the only place to shop is Wal-Mart and the town tourist attraction is the water tower. After never leaving this place and never paying attention to what's going on in other places one is convinced that this town, without question, is the best place on earth to live. Of course that is crazy. But if one were happy living there, it shouldn't matter, though they'd just be missing out. But in the case of religion, it does matter because if you've been barking up the wrong tree, never questioned the tree and never looked at other trees, then how could one presume they were going to heaven? It simply makes no sense.

We all know what religion led some extreme Muslims to do in recent history and looking at them, their devotion seems nuts and the fact that thought they had to commit such atrocities for God seems preposterous. But how many people considered, what if they are right? What if we are living in complete sin and they are on the right path and we should team up with them read the Qur'an and worship Allah? If they are going to heaven, then we are not. But few considered that and they were written off as evil and nuts. Well guess what? They think everyone else is nuts.

Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Mormon and Satanic worship.

Some will argue that they have looked at other religions and keep coming back to the one they started with. I never believe they truly looked. If someone sets out to prove a particular point of view, they can do it. No matter how objective people think they are being, their discovery will still be shaped by their pre-existing ideas and the ultimate 'truth' they hope to find. True objectivity is very rare and difficult to achieve.

People are set in beliefs about so many things that are familiar and comfortable. As an Australian moving to America, I feel compelled to insist that of all the things that are different, the Australian things, the familiar things, are better. I have struggled with this, insisting that it's Celsius is better than Fahrenheit, it's better to write the date like dd/mm/yyyy and that metric shits all over the imperial measurements. But after being forced to convert, I realised not everything I thought was better, is better. Some things are, some things aren't and some are equally valid.

I like Celsius and Fahrenheit. I'm more use to Celsius, but I can see the benefit of the broader scale to measure on. That same principal makes me enjoy kilometres over miles as the numbers drop off much faster on long road trips, even if there are more to begin with. When going through a pile of papers sorted by date, it's very nice to have all the months appear first. Both date formats have their merits for when you know what month you are in, it's the day you need first. But again, metric shits all over the old scale. You can't tell me that measurements that go in increments of 10 isn't way better than a shoddy old system with a bunch of random numbers that make up certain lengths, weights and distances and gets broken down into fractions. It does pain me to admit, however, that after insisting that my daily cereal, Weetabix in the US (derived from the UK version) was inferior to Australian Weet-Bix, my last visit home was alarming as I realised the Weetabix are MUCH better. I was totally sticking to the old ways because it was what I was use to. Something as simple as Weet-Bix has been a real wake up call! I'm not going to shift on Vegemite. It's a source of national pride, though I must admit that since the Weet-Bix incident of '06, I am a little scared to even try Marmite. Could I possibly be objective?

The UK vs Australia in the cereal war of 2006.

Again, it's just too damn simple and straightforward to me. The fact that the power of all these religions sits solely with where a person was born, says little for their power at all. They should have the power to pull people from all different walks of life, the 'right' one for sure, but none of them do. Each religion is 100% convinced that they are doing the right thing by their God. If I were a believer, I daresay I would be double, triple and quadruple checking that I was on the right team! You make the wrong choice and it's all over, red rover! Weighing them against each other, they all have strong cases, should you choose to accept them and when that becomes a muddle, one must ask if, even if they believe in a God, why religion is necessary at all for him to exist.

All comments are welcome, but if you set about trying to prove why yours is the right one, then you have missed the point of this blog which is really about objectivity, so please try and stick to the topic.

Minister turns atheist
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