- Published on Tuesday, 06 April 2010 07:11
- Written by John Draper
- Hits: 2623
Have you ever noticed that some believers will pick and choose which things they want to believe? If the bible says that hell exists - they decide it's metaphorical. If the resurrection is unbelievable, then Jesus was a prophet or teacher and not god. They have a whole collection of these choices so in the end they have a custom religion. They believe what they feel comfortable with. So what's wrong with that? Well for one thing, it's likely that there's no one else who believes the exact same combination of things. That by itself is not wrong as such but it does make a mockery of all religions so far invented. It says that you can believe what you want and that there is no absolute truth - or perhaps that there is only one human being who knows what it is. It's therefore unlikely that this custom religion is right. So why believe something that's not right? Because it's comfortable?
It seems to me that there is value in knowing what's right, what's true. I reject all gods because they don't make sense - there's no rational reason for them or any one of them. There are a lot of people - although not the majority - who agree with me. If I know there is no god, and life ends when I die, then life can proceed with my attention on other things. I can focus on enjoying life without worry. I can feel good about not hurting anyone else (Applying the golden rule). So knowing this is useful but worrying about what might happen when I die is not productive - unless of course there is an afterlife. But since I know there is none - then I don't worry!
But a custom religion is a bit more useful than a packaged religion. The advantage is that you can reject the more obviously crazy things although you have no authority like a pope or minister or theologian who can answer awkward questions. A custom religion does indicate that you are a thinker and that you have control of your beliefs which are a big part of one's life. So people with a custom religion have taken a step towards a rational reality.
(Hey, maybe I can make a buck selling custom religions? Click on the ad at right. Just kidding.)
So why stop there? If there is a residual fear that they may be wrong, then they are making Pascal's Wager - it's better to assume that god exists in case he does. You are making a "just in case" bet. The thought is that you have nothing to lose if you stick with god. All you lose is your integrity, your self-respect and your ability to have true free-will to decide for yourself.
Another reason to stay in a religion is the cultural inertia - you'd have to change your life, tell everyone that you've seen the light - heaven forbid! If you spend your life immersed in a religion, it would really mess everything up to change your mind on it. You would have to stop going to Church and lose all those friends! (Maybe not, but the fear is there). What would you tell your children - that you had been lying up till now?
It's too uncomfortable to change - it's much easier to cling to the custom religion. But it is being dishonest with oneself.