There has been a lot of controversy, as of last week, which I have already commented on. However before that event even took place, I had been thinking about this post and about writing it. It seems a lot more potent now. After having various discussions with the more politically aware members of my peer group, it has become clear to me that atheist one-upmanship has become more and more prevalent in civilised debate. It has also become clear that anyone who has any leniencies towards organised religion is ignorant, stupid, easily-led or all of the above. So that led me onto a different thought process. Are moderately religious people in the closet in fear of being ridiculed?
With the amount of “religious” fanatics in the news recently, using their religion as an excuse to peddle their own bloodthirsty motives, can we blame moderates for keeping their beliefs to themselves? When they wrongly use a higher power as justification for their idiocy, it undermines a perfectly reasonable person who tries to discuss how spirituality can go hand in hand with rationalism given half the chance. The atheist argument stems down to the ideal that a deity or God cannot be empirically proved, and therefore does not exist. Without getting too bogged down in this, it is safe to say that gravity existed before Sir Isaac Newton thought about dropping any apples. Nevertheless, it seems that even the most intellectual individuals are being discredited purely because they seem to dabble in prayer.
Einstein, born into a Jewish family, disagreed. His combination of spirituality and scientific rationality, he claims, made him into the visionary that he wanted to be, because his belief system gave him a sense of place. In the same way, not all belief stems from religion and not all religion stems from God. It is true that religion itself has become a dirty word. It has connotations of rigidity, restriction and regression – but people have misunderstood it. When you use a word that has to be as all encompassing as religion needs to be, it is never going to be perfect and it will be abused. As civilised human beings we need to look past that.
So those of you that don’t want to admit that you disguise a cross underneath that jumper or that you wear a kara underneath your sleeve, be brave. Just because you believe in a God, or even if you don’t, but believe in a tradition or way of life…it doesn’t mean that you are not allowed an opinion. Although mind you, ‘because God say so’ is not a valid line of argument. You are open to a culture that has been cultivated over hundreds, over thousands of years – don’t denounce it because you can be deemed ‘irrational.’ Rationality is fickle and facts change every day – just because something is empirical doesn’t mean it is necessarily going to be right forever.
Don’t keep your spirituality in the closet. Don’t neglect your prayers if you are in a crowd of people. Don’t be ashamed – be proud. But most of all, do things with understanding, so if someone asks, you can respond and enlighten them with discussion. Denunciation occurs when there is general ignorance, for the party that does and doesn’t believe. So come out of your closet, and don’t be afraid to shut the door – because even if people don’t understand what you believe, for the most part they will respect your conviction.