Last week I decided that the time was right for me to depart from the Lutheran church. The decision had come to me already many years ago but it took this long to be permanently executed. In this text I will tell you the reasons behind this relieving personal decision.
I consider myself to be an open-minded and considering person. It has rarely been difficult for me to accept the coexistence of religions, and I have encouraged people to get to know those with different religious backgrounds. Don’t take me wrong, I still believe that we should be tolerant to each other and try to live together harmoniously and peacefully. And I continue believing that religions are not all bad.
The first and foremost reason behind my departure was the lack of faith, which should be obvious to those who know me even little. Faith is something I value as an interpersonal and a private, self-realizing meditative quality. God might or might not exist – and that´s about all there is to say actually. I believe that people are entitled to religious freedom while having also an obligation not to demand religious autocracy; in other words all religious beliefs should be coequal. Well, as we all well know, this is not the case in today’s world.
Religions are now and in the past used as excuses to justify inhumane actions of violence, repression and tyranny. No religion is free from such a sick behavior which has caused millions of people to lose their lives in the course of human history. The Christians have forced people to wipe out their previous worldviews and replace them with truths taken from the Bible. For example in times of Columbus the Indian babies were killed after they had been baptized; this way they could enjoy the eternal life in heaven. In medieval Europe witches and heretics were hunt down by the holy inquisition, and ALWAYS the evidence against them was fabricated out of thin air. This meant that every living person was in danger to be named an opponent of God, and therefore be tested in order to find out whether this claim was to be true or not. Usually tests were successful and victims were found guilty – or dead.
Islam is no better, actually it can even be worse – depends on how deep into details we go. Things that we hear Muslims do to others and to themselves go many times beyond our comprehension and imagination. Or can you really claim to be understanding if some fanatic Muslims let young girls die in a burning house because they deserved to die due to broken ancient dress code. It does not matter how seriously people take themselves as Muslims if they continue to believe that everything there is in Quran must have come from Allah. Islam has to undergo a radical inner regeneration like all religions must. Otherwise these religions will eventually vanish trying to attain global dominion. We all have to accept that religions enable all forms of extremist activity. This fear has to be taken seriously by everyone, not just those who fear for their artificial American lifestyles. Religions breed negative side effects. Even those religions with millions of supporters cannot be covered with shields of inviolability. They need to be open for a serious debate.
The second reason to my getaway is actually reason - or the lack of it. It is funny how people section their lives into categories which are diversely managed. People trust in science and reason when they see fit, and use judgment selectively. If I would say that Jesus prepared my breakfast for today, I would be evaluated as a crazy person. Why? Due to lack of evidence. I would have to show some kind of proof to prove my point right. The same goes with claims that I make of reality. I cannot say that there is a rabbit hole in my garden leading to some magical world if it doesn’t exist. We cannot operate on false beliefs or otherwise all claims would be beyond critical evaluation. If I would state that the world is flat, nobody would believe me, but if the statement should point out that the world has been created by God, no matter what shape or size it is, I would gather more than enough supporters to make it official. When people enter the sacred area of religion they forget their reason and leave it hanging till time comes to use it once again.
Many elements (not all) in religions and especially texts considered holy are nothing but myths. And while there are those who consider these myths to be even partially true, we as a one and only humankind will face never ending problems. Myths have proved out to be irrational, disgusting and most importantly dangerous. Sometimes it feels like some people have gotten stuck in ancient history. I always say to my students how we need to understand people in their historical context. The Presocratic-philosophers for example had no knowledge of the world whatsoever, scientifically speaking. All they had was their reason and empirical affirmation of that time. Keeping this mind we are able to understand why these intellects thought that the world could be formed from substances like water or numbers. They had no evidence to believe otherwise!
I believe that Jesus lived and was a historical person with flesh and blood. I also believe that he gave an example of how we should treat each other as human beings; love and be loved. All extra added to this image of mine needs greater justifications which would have to resemble facts more than wishes. That’s why I cannot say that Jesus was more than a Jewish chap looking for a way to give people hope in times of despair. We need more people like Jesus to show compassion and empathy, but death is something we need to accept as a natural part of life. Death is evident and concerns us all, we and all our loved-ones have to die eventually. But that is the end of my journey – and yours. Between birth and death we all should treat others with respect and friendliness. If religions cannot adapt to this requirement, in my opinion they should be discarded as useless.
As long there are myths with non-existing divine origin and religious followers who refuse to use their reason and deny the utility of scientific method, wars and disharmony will remain a present state. Religions concealing false truths also obstruct us from building ethics that could have a real fundamental bearing for the future.