I’ve been wanting to write about this topic for a while, as I’ve been coming to terms with what I do/don’t believe over the past two years. What really sparked it for me today was seeing this video about a couple who beat their daughter to death. For God.
They were influenced by the book To Train Up A Child, which I was initially distressed by, but swiftly forgot about, like so many things in my life. I watched a video of the thickly bearded preacher/author describing (among other things) how you should spank your child firmly if they do not go to bed promptly, or so much as toss around too much in the bed instead of sleeping.
What I didn’t know was that the book advocates beating with objects like switches or plastic plumbing pipes - taking extremely literally the biblical advice of “Spare the rod, spoil the child”.
There’s a whole page of deaths suspected to be related to this heinous book, but it doesn’t seem to be a problem. The authors and their supporters claim that these cases are exceptions, and the people who torture and kill their children aren’t following the book’s teachings. Everything about this sickens me, especially that more than one of the dead children was adopted. At the trial for this newest case, the sister of the murdered girl asked her parents, “Why did you adopt her? To kill her?”.
Here’s where it gets tricky for me.
I understand this book was written by people, not God. I also believe that the bible was written by men, and not God. So when people do all manner of horrible things to themselves, each other, and children they have adopted - all this is human error, not God’s will. I get that.
What I have a problem with is separating “religion” from “God”. If there is a God (and I’m referring to the Christian one, as that’s what I’ve had the most experience with), why would he create so many people only to condemn them to eternal -eternal- hellfire for a multitude of things? The biggest determiners of post-life destination strike me as petty:
being born in a region where Christianity isn’t prevalent and failing to convert
believing in God but not Jesus (as deity)
So. It doesn’t matter how you live your life, how much you help people, how much you don’t bludgeon children to death or don’t protest soldier’s funerals or don’t hate two men because they love each other. Just believe the right thing.
This is also why I’ve never been a fan of Pascal’s Wager - you know, that you may as well believe in God, because you don’t lose anything if you’re wrong. I feel like if there is a God, even if he’s not as petty as the Old Testament would have you believe, that wouldn’t fly.
So you can say all the negative things I’ve mentioned were perpetrated by Fudamentalists, and I agree. There are plenty of good things that religious groups do - but these things (again, I feel) have more to do with the people doing them, not the religion. Not God except for that they feel/believe/have faith that the right things to do are right because God says so.
Maybe it’s like the feeling I get looking at videos of the cosmos, or learning things about patterns in nature, or …I don’t know, it seems like I’m pitting science against religion, and that’s not it exactly.
Some people look at outer space and feel God.
I look at outer space and see outer space. And feel connected to the universe. And I’m okay with that.