I was raised in a family where religion played no great part. By and large the family could be described as church of England but only one I can think of goes to church or owns a bible they could lay their hand on in less than about 2 hours notice.
Of course in the school system we were taught almost exclusively the religion of the nation with a smattering of exposure to other religions.
Now as an INTP (I've been one for quite a while...even as a kid!), I'm not good with people telling me what to think so religion always had an uphill battle with me. I'm also no good with authority figures who assume authority for no decent reason.
Since that point I used to make it my mission in life to oppose religion for no other reason than it was accepted blindly by too many. This lead to my wondrous nom de guarre at school of "Antichrist" from my ,at the time partially christian, friend. Going forwards my rankling upset a fair few religious types and I didn't care or slow down. Having then met a few honestly faith filled souls and having injured them with my anger I tempered my ire. Slowly I learned that religious doesn't mean dumb or lacking in reasoning but rather a simple belief. Of course I still despise organised religion as in it's role as the central power in the faith but I'll tolerate it for such individuals to whom it forms guidance for their own personal experience.
Why do I so dislike organised religion?
It plays politics without thought to the damage that such narrow mindedness can bring.
They extol a line of thinking which is not subject to critical thinking or any such attempt gets diverted or sidelined as so aptly displayed by some of the faithful in this thread.
They try to capture the young like tobacco companies, figuring that if they hook them young then they can put the hook in real deep.
They actively avoid any kind of honesty (Catholic churches policy of moving priests accused of abuse...I'm looking at you).
They promote looking down on others as an offshoot of their preaching if not as the direct message.
They hoard money and yet claim to care for the poor.
They make up rules about things which aren't in their texts but they "interpret" them to allow their new ideas (personally I "interpret" anyone who prays on a bible to be committing idolatry, the same as those who bow before a cross, depictions of the crucifixion, the pope etc etc.
They lack conviction. If the pope were a real shepherd of god then he'd not need bullet proof glass. In fact he might shirk it to show his faith but instead his ass is more important than the message...shame Jesus kind of owned them on that score.
They claim to be humble and yet have ranks and robes and adornments a plenty.
They excuse any and all failings with a wave of the "well I'm not perfect" hand of a gambler.
They extol virtues that they don't abide by (the number of christians who don't love thy neighbour or forgive is an insult to their own faith and a rotten set of principles)
They claim non-violence but ignore violence committed by those they count in their congregation. The least they could do is excommunicate them and ban them from the places of worship.
Basically to my mind any member of the clergy of any religion should be trying to be beyond reproach. If they fail they should be ejected from the ranks who hold power and back into the "flock".
Don't get me wrong, I'm slightly jealous of those with faith as they have something simple and powerful that I neither feel nor understand. That does not however mean I'll sit by whilst an elitist organisation with poor morals and worst reasoning tries to dominate the landscape. I'd rather see every centre of worship razed to the ground and all the faithful left with simple gatherings.
The other thing which bugs me is people who think that having a religion makes them a nice person. Not true. The most kind and caring individuals I know neither have faith nor good manners but they are there for you when you need them. I do not chastise a dog for having less reasoning than me or no religion and in return I have the most solid of companions.
Wait for the righteous fervour of "but we're not animals" to build....
You'd like to think that. We're made in God's image and so forth...so how come there are girls? I mean you can't even grow the epic beard nevermind the booming voice...I hope (a female Brian Blessed would be terrifying!!!).
I read some of the stories of Socrates and that man had incredible reasoning...right up until he went all God's army and started to make assumptions because he was facing death. Perhaps that's the root of religion...a way to calm the nerves when facing the bleak beyond? Anyone who's seen "The Man Who Invented Lying" will know what I mean.
I watched Dogma (film by Kevin Smith) and a lot of the thinking in there made more sense than any religious text I've ever read. Okay so it's a comedy but it's written by a Catholic pointing out the ridiculous nature of the bible and it's treatment of women and the editing process applied to the texts. Wasn't there a big thing at one point that Jesus was more likely to be black (no I don't care if there's a new PC word for it, take offence if you hang your ego on words used by others)?
Dave Allen (another catholic comic) made a perfect observation when he described being taken to a convent run school when he was a boy. The nun asked if he was going to be a good boy, he looked behind the nun and saw the crucifixion. He thought "Shit...and they like this guy!!" and so answered yes.
A question to anyone who's read this far and is of a particularly dogmatic mindset, what do you think of those who believe in something other than your one true faith? Do you look down on them? Pity them? What if they are right and you just misheard...maybe didn't catch all the information in your revelation? What happens if that's the part of you that is imperfect?
Anyhow, I believe an idea is far superior to a religion. It can be discussed, changed and ridiculed without any wars being started. It can be updated without causing people to panic. It can be told to others as a suggestion of sense instead of applied like some hard sell.
That reminds me, some guy in Vegas trying to sell me time shares assured me he was a good christian. I wonder what he'd feel if he knew that went against him instead of for him? It's kind of like someone telling you they are popular. If they were they wouldn't need to say it.
I'm reminded of another christian having said that...She claimed that she was faultless. She never needed to apologise for anything because Jesus had died for her sins and she wasn't to blame because of that. She wasn't responsible. Sure it's a stupid take on it but it's an easy mistake for the sheep to make.
I have another friend who wants to study to become a proper accredited Buddhist something or other and they speak about as much sense as the other religions.
"Because you do"
Where the hell do these people get off thinking that they are so superior to all other people that they can espouse some special knowledge that no one else can check or obtain but everyone must follow? If I walked up to you and tried to get you to follow me as a messiah you'd quite rightly tell me to go forth and multiply. These idiots did it before you even got here and just because the next few people you talk to say it's so you follow the same thinking!! Madness.
Of all the religions I've ever looked at Sikh seems the most "holy". At least they try to ensure, as a church and a private faith, that they achieve something worthwhile. Help make the world a little more just.
At it's most basic level, I can read a packet of biscuits and tell you that I've seen the word of god in these terms. I'm lying, of course, but there's no external way for you to establish the voracity of my claim and yet you will judge me, the church will judge me and the whole damn faith will judge me. No word of "let those without sin cast the first stone", nothing about "well we had a burning bush...this seems more sane than one of those talking to people", no mention of "well at least he's not claiming to be on his second or later incarnation...I'll take it". The faith accepts what it chooses to just like everyone else.
Now to the point of morals.
Religion may have codified morals but it doesn't own them. Dogs have morals. Fish have damn morals and no book tells them what to think. We don't kill each other at random because we are social creatures and such behaviour undermines cooperation. If you look at any religions set of rules you could basically sum them up by telling people to put the team first. You don't steal because it will piss your fellow tribesman off (not sure about coveting his cattle...think that's just under "unsuccessful reproduction experiments" and looked down upon). If you kill one of your tribe then it's one person less. It's weaker and by extension your position on this rock is similarly weaker. It's simple instinct codified and formalised.
On the point about the meaning of life...
Let me ask you this, who in the hell told you for indisputable fact, that there is a point? Why are we here? Why do you continue to ask such stupid questions get on with killing first born or something useful.
I'll end this multi rant expulsion of a part of my ire at religious organisations...I could go on for ages but I have a life which is not enriched by any god, faith or book of secrets...cept maybe the TV guide.