Wendy DeVelde 
Member since Aug 26, 2011

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Re: “Letters

To Annesse (Art & Atheism, Aug 25), 'Rev' Pediogo, and those like them who knock at my door (Feel free to hand out to those who knock at YOUR door):

Dear Pilgrim in search of meaning and wanting to share it,

I know you mean well, and I offer some thoughts since you have offered me yours…

Consider, for a moment, your feelings about religions other than your own…do they seem strange, alien, odd, in-credible, primitive, or superstitious? When you understand why you dismiss those other gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours. Consider the invisible product you sell.

You may say, “But my religious texts are ancient and have stood the test of time.” Of course they have. It is humanity’s longing for meaning in the face of death. And yes, great masses of people through the ages share this longing…and the need for be-longing. But an idea does not gain truth as it gains followers. Motivated followers construct what they want to believe in, mingle only with other followers, and respond to the outside world defensively, even in the form of war and killing.

Notice we must use words like “faith” and “belief” since we are unable to use the word “knowledge” in these matters. The word ‘belief’ has Anglo Saxon roots meaning “lief,” that is, “to wish” as in “I fervently wish and hope (that these things be true.) --which is human nature—to seek consolation from the anxiety of nature’s cycle of life and death and loss.

Yes, the unseen is an attractive mystery. But what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence. The invisible and the non-existent look very much alike. The absence of evidence can be evidence…of absence.

It seems that where knowledge ends, religion begins. Religion belonged to the infancy of humanity. Now that humanity has come of age, it may be left behind. Is it not better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however reassuring? Fear is the mother of all gods; nature does all things spontaneously by herself without their meddling.

Despite faith often being referred to as a “gift” that one either has or not, it can be the great excuse to avoid the need to think and evaluate. Religion has historically taught us to be satisfied with not understanding the world. Faith can mean not wanting to know what is true. Note that a man is usually accepted into a church for what he believes, but is turned out for what he knows.

The most heinous crimes have been committed under the cover of religion; gods always behave like the people who created them. Gods are fragile things which may be killed by a whiff of science or a dose of common sense –hence the need for special, coded, religious language. It has been said that religion does three things quite effectively; divides people, controls people, deludes people. Men never commit evil so fully and joyfully as when they do it for religious conviction. That is simply history, leading Thomas Jefferson to observe that, “Religions are all alike, founded upon fables and mythologies,” and John Adams to say, “This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it.”

So I sincerely share your search for meaning, if truly searching you are, and that part of all religious expression which is that search. But it is something built by our own experience, perception, and understanding from a life chosen and well lived.

The sailor does not pray for wind, he learns to sail… Goodbye. Have a good life.

(Name withheld)

Posted by Wendy DeVelde on 08/26/2011 at 12:00 PM

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