One of the many things that gets on my nerves these days, especially this time of year, is when people confuse the word "believe" with the word "know".
It annoys the hell out of me when somebody tells my kid that they "know" that when they die, they will go to heaven (for whatever reason). This is wrong on so many levels.
1. You don't KNOW that, you believe it. Hell, I'd like to believe it to. Who wouldn't want to spend eternity in paradise? Problem is, there are a lot of molestors, mutilators, and killers who "know" they are going there too and my paradise doesn't include those people. Jesus, God, Allah, Yoda, or whoever may forgive them, but I don't. And I don't have to. And you can't make me.
2. By stating that you are going to heaven because you fulfill some religious obligation, it implies that those of us who don't subscribe to your doctrine will be excluded from the privilege. What kind of god is that egotistical that we have to accept only that one diety as our savior? Really? Seriously? People BUY that? So if I join your club, I'll be saved, but if I don't play by your rules, I can't go to your heavenly clubhouse? Ok, I stopped playing with that kid down the block when I was eight years old. Not going back.
3. How dare you pity me and pray for me to find my way. Don't waste your time. My life is good, I follow the main principles of goodness as bet I can, as defined by most world religions. I strive to be a better person every day and appreciate what I have, making good choices and accepting the consequences when my choices are not so good or not so well planned out. Whether or not I attend your church, it does not define my worth as a person.
4. You say you know, but you don't know. HOw do you know? Because you read it in the bible? You honestly think those stories are factual? You don't see how closely some of those parables mirror Aesops fables, or other lesson-teaching stories of ancient times? Who wrote that tomb? DOZENS of people contributed to that, after Jesus' death. Only after he was gone did people consider him THE son of God. Before that, he was a son of god, like any other man. That's how he referred to himself. He did not put himself above others and claim to be a diety.
5. People don't come back to life after they're dead. They just don't. Especially not 2000 years ago before shock paddle and Epi drips and all of those other cool things they have on ER-type shows these days. You believe that, really? c'mon!
6. People don't have babies without having sex. It's just not the way it works. All mammals are that way. People are mammals. They copulate. Anybody who says they are a virgin when they give birth is either (1) lying or (2) saying that they are unmarried, not unbroken.
Ok, I'm ranting. I have my own beliefs too. I like my beliefs. But I admit that I don't "KNOW" what, if anything, happens when we die, whether or not there is one supreme diety, or if any of us will get to heaven, nirvana, etc. Saying that you know shows a lot of ego and just makes me plain cranky. And now that I've gotten that off my chest, I can go think about something else for while.
I read a quote on Julia Sweeney's blog that most people don't Believe as much as they Believe in the power of Believing. She attributed that gem to a man by the name of Daniel Dennett. I must read more about him. Her post, along with some interactions I've had the past year that have lingered in my subconscious, really got me thinking.
PS I love Julia's blog. I wish I was as articulate with well-considered things to say as she is.