Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Gamble of Religion

I find it ironic that religion admonishes people to not gamble. And yet- religion IS a gamble.

In fact, it is the biggest gamble a person can make. Because you are gambling with your soul- for all eternity. The stakes don't get any riskier than that!

Like horse racing, you're putting all your money on one horse to win. Not only are you betting there is a God and Devil, a Heaven and a Hell, but you are betting on dedicating your entire earthly existence on only ...ONE of the millions religions available- to be the only right one. And then- you are betting that you are living that specific religion well enough to qualify.

Is it even possible to not only follow ANY religion to the letter, but also have a perfect and unwavering ‘faith’ of it? Many ‘faithful’ people state that you’ll know the truthfulness of the religion because if a consuming feeling that it’s true. It’s also been described as a ‘burning in your chest’.
Consider though... those willing to kill dozens or even hundred in the name of their god and their ‘faith’… they damn well better believe it’s true to blow themselves to pieces just so they can kill and destroy the lives of people they never met and have no justifiable fight with!

Face it. Feelings are transient.

Feelings change based upon the phase of a person’s life. The circumstances of their quality of life. Current events. Losses and tragedies. Successes and status changes. Feelings are determined by chemical releases in the brain. And anyone who’s ever known anyone with a social/ mental disorder, dementia, low or high blood sugar, under the influence of substances or experiencing hormonal imbalances (can anyone say PMS?) knows that a person’s behavior and decisions can change at the drop of a hat from feelings.

Hell, a misunderstanding, unfounded suspicions or getting bad information can throw a person into a rage and do things they’ll regret for the rest of their lives. Feelings cause people to throw away opportunities, elope, make a baby they not prepared to parent, take irrational risks, burn the proverbial bridges or up and move to other countries where they don’t know a soul or speak the language. Feelings sometimes even cause death: suicide, murder, homicide.

Feelings are not to be relied upon.

Making major decisions, involving rituals and practices for everything from giving birth, to marriages, to daily habits and lifestyle choices, all the way to the death process- that most religions require- are a risky thing to commit to based upon a feeling.

Adopting a religion in fact changes you subtly in ways you aren’t even aware of. Preferences, politics and prejudices are just some of the ways religion changes you profoundly. And those are just the ‘P’ words!

How would anyone ever know that the religion they’re choosing to practice is because it’s ‘true’, or just ‘extremely convenient’ or possibly just satisfies some of their other needs such as: a social network, replacement for an extended family, offers employment or education, offers financial or housing assistance or any number of other goodies churches offer their fold?

No religion to date can factually, scientifically ‘prove’ that their god exists or that their set of practices and rules are endorsed by that god.

‘Proof’ found in writings old or new, or the words of a human deceased or living, counts for nothing. Unearthing old artifacts are exciting and can be impressively old or well documented, but that doesn’t mean their claim of divinity is true.

While nowadays an adult has an absurdly long list of religious options (Anyone care to adopt a new religion a week for a year or two? You probably could!) but the religion a person learns as a youth is nothing more than an accident of birth.

Especially in generations of the past several centuries, almost assuredly whatever religion was practiced by the family they were born into- would be the religion they would swear loyalty to till their death. And THAT was determined by whatever country their family lived in. Add that countries seized by a warring nation were often forced to practice the religion of the victors and countries were overthrown and changed hands regularly- the odds of having the ‘correct’ religion at the time of death are ridiculously low.

Instead of religions counseling their patrons to not gamble- they should advise them to not make any OTHER bets. Because if you don't follow the rules of the ultimate gamble you're already playing, then really, all bets are off.

I wonder if in like horse racing you can increase the odds in your favor by cutting your losses and dividing your bets on two horses or two religions. After all, you may have a whole lot less to bet on each horse, but at the end of the day, a small return on a small win, is much better than a total loss. Right?

[Adapted from a MySpace post on Wednesday, May 30, 2007]

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