The natural side effect of being religious is to believe that you have some sort of insight into the supernatural that your neighbor does not. It makes people feel special and unique. But this belief is also what brings about conflict. If everyone thinks they’re right and refuses to back down, it creates a state never-ending conflict that only succeeds in hurting people. If the people of the world would step back from their faith for just a moment, they might see that they have lost sight of the path they are supposed to be following.
Religion used to be a way to unite people. To be religious meant that you were a part of something bigger than yourself, and that you believed in something that was beyond the empirical facts of everyday life. The religions of the world still incorporate those things, but while nearly every religion on Earth preaches tolerance and peace, we still fight wars. While religion preaches to help the poor and the sick, millions are dying from famines, AIDS, and other devastating epidemics. Why? Because we have lost sight of the original point of religion: to bring people together, peacefully. In today’s world, everyone is too wrapped up in the universal question: who is right? Which beliefs are true? Which are heresies? Which are just misguided? These aren’t the points we should be focusing on, because we won’t ever find the answers, and even if we did not everyone would accept them. Instead, we should focus on being tolerant of all people, regardless of their faith or lack thereof. Only then will religion begin to fulfill its true function once more.
I’m not an atheist, but I guess you could call me an agnostic. I do believe that there is an important force out there. I think that force lives in people, and is shown in the moral things we do or attempt to do every day. It doesn’t matter whether those good deeds are in the name of Christ, Yahweh, or Allah; they all go towards helping to make the world a better place. And the world is never a better place when we discriminate against someone or hate them for their differences. Therefore, when people claim that they are doing terrible things like assaulting a homosexual man in the name of God or blowing up a bus full of people in the name of Allah, it makes me sick. The human race is so addicted to religion that we will blindly murder our fellow man just to say we are good Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, etc. Our interpretation of God’s words is ours to live by, not ours to force upon others. The world is bad enough; let’s try making it better for a change. This I believe: tolerance is what we need, not fanaticism.
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