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The Gauntlet

Fanatics and non-believers

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A cartoon Isaac Newton sits under an apple tree and a falling object promptly conks him on the head. Of course, the sky isn't falling, but there is temporary mayhem until the cartoon characters regain their rationality and discover gravity. In the end, the world learns a valuable lesson on the laws of physics, but in reality, the reaction is more complicated.

A real life Newton sits under a tree and is conked by the same falling object. Mayhem arises, but rationality does not prevail. Instead, frightened masses flock to churches, pray that God will save their souls from the impending doom and evangelise to save their fellow men from the inevitable depths of Hell.

"Wait!" says Newton. "It's only gravity. The sky isn't falling, it was just an apple."

But no one listens as religion replaces rationale.

Religion, for many, is a key factor in the continuity of society. Millions depend on it to keep on living day to day--people who would be hopeless otherwise, in a world that seldomly offers anything concrete or dependable. People fail, buildings fall, and there is suffering and injustice all around. Some are so fragile that only the permanence of God can sustain their sanity in a world gone mad. Whether or not God exists for everyone does not detract from his constant presence in the lives of believers.

The identity of God among different religions is equally unimportant. What matters is that God has always been around in one form or another; something for people to depend on in times of strife and despair. However, maybe God is not really helping the human situation at all.

God is an easy way to answer any difficult question. Why do things happen? Who will fix the world's problems? Why are we here? But God is not a valid solution to these problems--if anything, he is the anti-solution. While the answers to these questions may be difficult to accept or to act on, sitting back and letting God look after situations will solve nothing.

While religion has spawned perfectly useful organizations actively working alongside the non-religious to tackle various social issues, there are countless spiritually-minded individuals and organizations that have proven religion to be a hoax. Overzealous fanatics act violentlyin the name of religion and religion has divided entire races and families.

Though God is interpreted in a thousand different ways, everyone is sure that their God is the real McCoy.

Religion is a topic too controversial for anyone to really know exactly if, who and what God is. But scandalous religious icons, like priests, as well as religiously motivated terrorist movements are in the news daily. Some argue these headline-makers are not representative of the true purpose of religion, but instead they are exactly that. Religion these days seems too corrupt to serve any purpose other than comforting the hopeless. One thing is certain: if there truly is a God, now would be a great time for him to show up.

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Comments

perhaps people should have the same approach to 'God', as they do to Santa. He is a myth designed to give children fulfillment and a certain element of inner goodness and comfort. eg. if you are not good, santa will not come.
where in 'Gods' circumstance, if we are not good, we will 'go to hell'.etc
where is the factual proof that we should demand??
But at the end of the day, if people feel they need this extra comfort if their lives, let them believe it if it makes the world a better place. But lets make sure it doesn't make the world a worse place than it is!!!

Curtis:

How can you talk about the subjectivity of religion and then say that someone elses opinions, since they differ from yours, are wrong?

You claim some of Esther's assumptions are "false," however these are not points that are undebatable like you suggest. Yes, some people do think God will protect them. Yes, some people do cling to God as a coping mechanism. And yes, some people DO look for objective proofs to prove/disprove God's exhistance, however absurd that may sound. I think the article was in fact hinting that, while people think these things, it doesn't mean they're right--it even suggests they are wrong ("But God is not a valid solution to these problems--if anything, He is the anti-solution").

Again, you say the article was spawned through ignorance because you think it said religious people are irrational. If you read the article, you'll notice it never made blind sweeping statements on religious people as a whole, but pointed out the beliefs of some individuals and that those beliefs may be detremental.

I guess the real point here is that religion is SUBJECTIVE. This was Esther's opinion, and now we've heard yours. However, acknowledging that religion is subjective (which you did) and then suggesting an opinion is wrong and unprofessional because it is uneducated (read: because it is not the same as your opinion) is true ignorance.

-James

This article is a perfect example of discrimmination towards people's beliefs. I could just as easily write an article discrimminant towards people's absence of beliefs.

It's assumptions are false. It assumes that religious people are weak and cling to "God" as a way of coping since they are unable to do so without such a belief. It assumes they are unable to think and rationalize for themselves. It assumes priests/religious people/religion is corrupt because of negative images the media is famous for giving (yet all of the positive efforts and works seem to go unnoticed). It also assumes that religious people expect God to protect them from all forms of harm..... yet each religion has martyrs, so obviously religious people must be aware that bad things happen to good people and God doesn't always intervene in expected ways. And to top it all off, the exsistence of God is something that can neither be proven nor disproven by objective means. The "proofs" that non-believers have are as subjective as the "proofs" that belivers have.

What are my "proofs" that lead me to believing in God? The exsistence of everything before me and the laws to construct every phenomina I percieve in all it's complexity tell me that the source responsible for exsistence is beyond anything percievable...... with this in mind, I struggle with how someone comes to the conclusion that there is no God.

I suppose as a religious person I could think that unreligious people cannot think for themselves in terms of assuming that there is no God because they can't see such an entity..... I could go on to say how nonreligious people are irrational but of course that would be thinking in the same sort of ignorance that has gone into this article.

If you consider yourself "proffesional" I suggest you educate yourself more throughly on such an issue before coming to such absurd conclusions.

I donít know, I think religion is a wonderful thing. There is no easier way of discerning the gullible from those capable of critical thought than their religious beliefs. Now if only we could legalize an applicable discriminationÖ

PS don't get irate with me until youíve come and seen me and had a lengthy debate on the subject, as the previous claim is far too easy to take out of context. This includes all religious studies students and chaplains.

Kyle,

Why would you say that and expect people to not attack you, think you mean well with your comments. Obviously such a comment serves to just agravate people for the sake of it. If you're going to make such statements, at least attempt to justify them. Or, be prepared for some relatiation. It's only common sense...

Kyle can you actually seriously mean that? You know me, you've talked to me, you've even read some of my critical essays... You also know that I'm a Christian. Do you actually think I'm not capable of critical thinking? Perhaps some Christians are weak, but not everyone. Most Gauntlet staff know me personally, I hope they don't see me as stupid and irrational... Or maybe perhaps the fact that I didn't announce I was Christian at the start freed me from discrimination. Now Kyle, I have a concern about your so-called "applicable discrimination". If you discriminated me from the start, perhaps we would never have become friends/colleagues. I don't mind a debate or discussion. The reason why I avoided them with you is the same reason why an atheist avoids a fanatical Christian. Give that a thought... (fanatical atheists, that is.) Perhaps I misinterpret you, I hope I didn't jump into quick judgements... TTYL...

peace
-FALICE

James,

I suggest you read the last paragraph again:

"Religion is a topic too controversial for anyone to really know exactly if, who and what God is. But scandalous religious icons, like priests, as well as religiously motivated terrorist movements are in the news daily. Some argue these headline-makers are not representative of the true purpose of religion, but instead they are exactly that. Religion these days seems too corrupt to serve any purpose other than comforting the hopeless. One thing is certain: if there truly is a God, now would be a great time for him to show up."

If this is an educated statement, then the author would know that nearly all of the priests are not scandals and they serve very genuine and devout lives.... clearly propaganda from the media has this misconception which is misleading.......

Also consider another quote from the article:

"there are countless spiritually-minded individuals and organizations that have proven religion to be a hoax"

Proven? This is my point about the subjectivity of these so-called "proofs." The author makes no attempt to address this.

My point made, I rest my case

Curtis,
"The exsistence of everything before me and the laws to construct every phenomina I percieve in all it's complexity tell me that the source responsible for exsistence is beyond anything percievable......"

Now you claim you cannot percieve God, but you can somehow infer him. I hold that inference and perception cannot be sharply divided like that. Epistemic reckoning in general (ie. inference) subsumes all perceptual process.

The question here is not whether or not we can see God, of course we can't. The question is one of the details of how the universe has gone about, as you put it, "telling" you that such an agency exists. How exactly do you determine that a being, with the qualities that God putatively has, is actually "out there".

When nobody seems able to cogently say just why they believe in their God, why are they surprised that some of us don't believe?

Well, religion certainly isn't perfect but it does help people. Yes, it motivates some to violence but it keeps even more from it. The bribe of Heaven and threat of Hell still keep many on the straight and narrow. Religion is not necesarily bad even if its more zealous followers do sometimes hinder the path of science and ration. I am personally nonreligious. I think religion is too structured to represent the universe, but that's my only real problem with it. When you complain about religion you must realize that no institution is perfect--not even that of God. The human mind cannot function unless it has answers. Without answers the synapses will fire off possibilites until there is something to give it rest. If the answer is nothing then the impact on the psyche can be catastrophic. The average person can not handle the idea there is ultimately no greater being to praise and care for them. The idea that no one notices the every day life of man is too much for the average person to handle. Human beings need to feel that their lives are of consequence and, as most of us will never do anything extraodinary, religion is the only comfortable answer.