Since my first post in November of 2005 I have read a number of books, several magazine articles, any number of blog posts and comments, most having to do with god and religion. I still have difficulty making sense of it all. Just as it seems that born again christians constantly repeat a small number of stock phrases drummed into their heads at their respective churches, I find that I too, have become somewhat repetitive in what often amounts to diatribes against religious belief and believers, dominionists, religious radicals of all stripes and their often heinous acts of violence. I guess there are only so many ways one can say the same things.
While I could laugh at many of the good, often witty quotes, ultimately I put the book down with a twinge of sadness, even of dread. A great deal of the turmoil, destruction and death now being perpetrated on our planet is based upon which god one believes in.
The recent failed bombings in London provided yet another wake up call about the ever present danger of terrorist attacks. One can only take heart in the fact that these guys were inept. They couldn't get out of their own way. I conjured a scene of one of the brainiac doctors attempting to detonate one of the two Mercedes bombs by dialing the implanted cell phone detonator, only to have the recorded message break in "We're sorry, the number you have reached is not in service.' Bilal, I thought you activated all of the phones. No, Khalid, I assumed you had them turned on, Allah be praised." My wife's initial response was that it was a terrible waste of good cars.
The fact that at least some of these terrorist wannabes are medical doctors is troubling. First, they cannot be considered as true to their professional calling if they were actively and willingly attempting to "first, do harm." Mistakenly perhaps, I think of medical doctors as men and women of science. That, for those fellows in London and Glasgow science lost the battle with faith, is disturbing.
The three major monotheistic religions of the world, Judaism, Christianity and Islam are arriving at a pass which many hope will culminate in an ultimate battle to determine who is truly king of the hill. What most people of these respective faiths don't appear to acknowledge is that there is, in the end, very little difference between these religions. They were all three born out of the same part of the world of the same traditions. Each of their sacred texts are an inter-mix of much the same material. All of it is a conglomeration of myth and legend told and retold, written, rewritten, translated and re-translated ad nauseam over more than 2 millennia, and yet each is now believed to be the one and only, inerrant true word of god. And many of them are more than willing to see millions of people die over this ludicrous load of crap! Many hope to take an active role in the massacre.
There was a great cartoon in an issue of the New Yorker magazine a few months back which depicted the scene of a battle worn king his sword raised high in victory, sitting astride his rearing horse as it stands atop a huge pile of the battlefield dead, the legend below reading: "Let the healing begin!"
It's just that kind of absurdity which haunts me as I see how all of this emnity throughout the world may well play itself out. What will the winners of such a conflagration do upon achieveing their victory? Will they be looking to the sky for their saviour, their prophet? Might it not be like the idiots through the years who have convinced people that the world is going to end at such and such a time? Will these victors be deafened by the silence of their god? Will they desparately look for signs, wildly reading some kind of spiritual meaning into every damn thing that passes? How will they explain away the failure to realize the rapture? How will they rationalize their failure to touch the face of god? Will they mourn the dead?
Will there be any hope for a voice of reason to rise up out of the ashes? I fear not. The gross stupidity which brought them to Armageddon will live on, igniting new flames of religious fervor continuing to subjugate the weak and further divide the survivors to foment yet another, greater battle for the glory of their god.
I end this with a couple of quotes, the first from Huberman's book from Percy Bysshe Shelley:
"If he is infinitely good, what reason should we have to fear him? If he is infinitely wise, why should we have doubts concerning our future? If he knows all, why warn him of our needs and fatigue him with our prayers? If he is just, why fear that he will punish the creatures that he has filled with weaknesses? . . . If he is reasonable, how can he be angry at the blind, to whom he has given the liberty of being unreasonable? . . . If he is inconceivable, why occupy ourselves with him?. . . and if he has spoken, why is the world not convinced?"
The second is a quote of Albert Einstein's repeated in Walter Isaacson's biography, Einstein (pg.387):
"The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly: this is religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I am a devoutly religious man."