Atheism vs Religion
by Maya Kasabov
I do not have desire to write thesis, so many has been written on this, in a way sensitive subject, and certainly still many will be. Neither do I wish to dispute opinion on God's existence or non-existence at this point. On a contrary, I would like to invite you to flow with me on tide of continuous disclosures of someone who lived in both worlds regardless that one in reality and the other in spirit.
I was born in Catholic family under communist regime. When I was 4 years old, my father decided to pursue actually we moved around a lot, as is it always the matter with military families.
Under communist (atheistic) regime it was unspoken and unwritten, yet still "cemented" rule silently denying religious faith. There wasn't any religion spoken about and/or practice in life in general at those times. So we never went to church and religion was never addressed in our home, my father being atheist, although he never mentioned his believes, so it might even have been something contrary he harbored deep inside and didn't wish to put his family in danger. Living had to be maintained and mouth had to be shut.
Regardless of all that I secretly practiced my children's prayers as my grandmother, devoted Catholic, taught me.
As I recollect my memories, it is with heavy heart, because people who made lasting impression on my own decision later in life are all gone and those I acquired my wisdom from became dust some centuries ago. But their words are still alive and always shall be, as I intend to present it later in this article.
I've had wonderful advantage though that every school summer holidays I spent at my grandmother's.
We had very warm and loving relationship and she was superior storyteller. Her tales about times long past fascinated me, especially very exciting stories about often mysterious life of nuns from abbeys where they served their whole life taking care of sick and crippled and in a name of Jesus Christ were helping also to all needy and lost souls. My grandmother taught me and developed in me very responsible and compassionate approach to life. She did it in a subtle way that I've never realized it as lessons to be remembered for whole life.
So for two months of the year I was under such an influence and rest just to put it simple, an atheist.
I was always a thinker and since early childhood I paid attention to this so mysterious matter, religion. I recollect my first question on this subject when I was still a child and it was addressed to my mother.
"Mama, why people always say...Oh God, My God, God help me and such, when they are in trouble?" I think she was caught of guard somewhat and responded impatiently: "So what do you want them to say? "name of president" help me?" That got me thinking even more. Yes, this would certainly be ridiculous, wouldn't it be? And from that moment God became the dominant one for me as far as my feelings and serious opinion I was capable to create as a child. All others became a bit "smaller" in my eyes, including president, who became just an ordinary human as all the others around me were.
Then later on another, very traumatic event in my life instilled in me firm belief that I was right, if in nothing else, than in my gut feeling. My eight years old brother was gravely hurt in a car accident. He was in a hospital for over 5 months and eventually he was lost to us. During that most difficult time, my father was only one allowed hospital visits and was broken man. And where do you think he went for solace? He, an atheist, went to church, every free moment he could find. He prayed there. No, he couldn't save his son's life, but he was helped to save his sanity, he was helped to gather strength to go on...
This is power of religion. And this could be seen all over the world, in daily life of people who never cared for religion or even repudiate it, that in a time of sickness, hardship, older age, whenever, simply in overwhelming life difficulties people turn to God. Because there is something we shall never fully understand and it doesn't matter, really, but that absolutely special feeling not to be found anywhere else and in anything else is all of the sudden there and it helps. As it is said, there are things "between heaven and earth" we don't understand, but do we need to understand everything? There is a lot what could be logically explained, but how your soul "works," never...
As I grew up I was always deeply immersed in books of all kinds. I loved and always will, philosophy
and its teachers, philosophers. I am highly educated person and studied tons of theories, scientific claims, you name all.. on this subject and this is my conclusion and my belief... I am going to "pepper" the following statements heavily with aphorisms, which make sense and have a great depth and value and were written by those who posses highly developed intellect. Together with my education and rich, unusual life experiences and by living under all three regimes (communists, socialists and capitalists) I have developed also good judgment and I am able to draw sensible conclusion on any topic. Most of all I never ever cite headlines of anything of such kind, those being biased and almost always way of the truth.
"This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness." Dalai Lama
It is amazing how very many of those I admire and value as worthy to cite I have found, those who agree with me and/or I with them. I do not imitate their opinions I have just found confirmation of mine, formed long, long ago.So, I certainly do not believe that there is a God sitting somewhere in heaven on a cloud, watching our activity here on this Earth and makes judgments. As above words of wisdom confirm, there is no need to be fanatical in any belief, no need to sit in church day and night thinking that we please God by doing that. However when we adhere to "God's rules as they are set, for us to follow, no matter what religion (meaning obviously peaceful religions) we naturally become simply "better" human beings. I strongly believe that religion is and should bepart of our lives, because it is where we can draw all the good for our existence as humans. I repeat that because I consider that imperative. You can learn read and write, and drive, become specialists in any and all existing professions, masters of whatever...but first and foremost you ARE humans and have human needs and you need "food" for your soul the same way as for your body.
I've paid specific attention to so many people from various nations I have met on my life's journey and my conclusion without doubt is that people who believe in religion, practicing it or not are better in their character, in their behavior, in their help to another humans, animals and nature. They are more compassionate and understanding and also happier. Reason is simple. "Religion feeds the soul itself."
"Doubt is part of all religion. All the religious thinkers were doubters." Isaac Bashevis Singer
Yes, it is the truth and its just fine that we analyze and discuss. Actually if we wouldn't then there would be something very wrong with us. We can doubt, after all we were given our brains to think, but if we stray into being intolerant, because we have convinced ourselves about how very progressive and enlightened we are by believing in so called scientific theories that God doesn't exist and all believers are just simple-minded and living in "dark ages" , we rob ourselves of something that makes life in matters of faith, interaction with other human beings so much more alive, warm and joyful. We must allow for understanding, tolerance and mutual respect, no matter what opinion.
"I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn't, than live my life as if there isn't and die to find out there is." Galileo Galilei
Yes, I agree with that realizing the hidden message in this saying. I rather would adopt and live with all that great wisdom religion is capable of teaching us and what could become part of my own characteristic as a person, allows me to feel happy in my own faith, allowing me to search my soul and turn it to something divine in my time of need. Something I believe is divine, higher that me, ordinary human.
"Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair." Gilbert K. Chesterton
Yes,, religion IS needed in people's lives. Where is it missing, there is very serious void. I know, I lived under communists. People can become closer to each other when religion is present, they can gather in churches, worship together, can understand that one unique language even without words. They can connect their souls and understand each other so much better just with a feelings. Because it doesn't matter from which "walk of live" they are coming, they understand universal language of religion and that way themselves.
"Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays." Soren Kierkegaard
Yes, the prayer. How wonderfully it could help in our time of need. It helps to augment our hopes, it can provide calmness, cleanse the soul, assure us that those we pray for be also helped somehow, possibly just because we were able to express our love and sincere desire to help best we can, even when we can't in real life. We learn compassion, and we learn understanding and tolerance. Where else would one learn all that?
That is why atheists are such an intolerant and overly critical people.
The following saying expresses that clearly.
"There seems to be a terrible misunderstanding on the part of a great many people to the effect that when you cease to believe you may cease to behave." Louis Kronenberger
It is not my intention to analyze abuse of religion in history and any of historical events, although I can do that easily. Certainly lot of bad had been done in a name of it. But people are people and they come in all sorts. But I would stray from exact ultimate goal I follow here.
So only one touch to history here and that is an American one. I am naturalized American citizen but I've made point to study American history. I could not live in a country that accepted me and I made my new home here and not knowing.
It was a joy to read wisdom of founding fathers, exceptional thinkers, with knowledge and foresight and vision for the future of this country. They were really exceptional people, highly educated, clever and the great leaders. They believed in God and values that go with it and were stressing that very fact in all their writing and actions. Until this country followed in those footsteps, it was growing into great prosperity, and became envy of the whole world. Morality was valued highly and practiced in daily life. When people started to stray from this road they followed, look where we are today. No need for me to name all the negatives, we all live it. Lack of basic civility between political parties, people, increase of criminality, lack of morals...
"Morality is of the highest importance - but for us, not for God." Albert Einstein
Listen to the wisdom of one intelligent man. What can I add to these words?
"There is no logical answer to the question ' Why be moral?' Religions provide practical answers to this question."
"Till religions keep high level of morality in the followers, they are serving their purpose."
"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use." Albert Camus
Me neither, Mr. Camus.
"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." C. S. Lewis
Yes, thanks to religion you could see more. And I do not mean that what everybody could see with their own eyes, but what we are capable to see with our souls. We can feel more, are capable to admire more and appreciate more deeply, spend more time searching our feelings that are deeper and richer and could find so much more than just plainly absorb or even overlook. We see creation of highest caliber, beauty of divine...
"The Christian resolution to find the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad." Friedrich Nietzsche
What people change their their own world they live in also changes, it is indisputable. So it is up to them to either accept good values or deny them. Consequences shall manifest themselves very soon.
"We are punished by our sins, not for them." Elbert Hubbard
Yes, we are, and it doesn't have to be that we must be fanatically religious and trust in God's punishment, but just not living as we should, that meaning as a decent human beings, we'll simply find this unexpected "reward" for our misbehavior. We owe to each other respect, allow for dignity, avoid lies, theft, abuse and so on...But where do we heard that particular teaching? I'm asking you? From our politicians? They are the ones corrupted, hungry only for power and many actually fear religion, because there is tremendous strength in it, which binds people together. So lets be bound together, let's not allow division, let's not allow these following words to ring true:
"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." Mohandas Gandhi
"It is wonderful how much time good people spend fighting the devil. If they would only expend the same amount of energy loving their fellow men, the devil would die in his own tracks of ennui. Helen Keller
Just another word of confirmation what I said all along. Live by better rules, religion rules and whole world would become better place for all of us. So much could be solved without any special additional effort...
Well...night set in without me even noticing it, but I feel I could write till morning sun would welcome me into another great day, because I welcome and value every single one. Because I live my life in a such a way I do not have to be ashamed. And when thinking of it, I just realized that I do live it by God's rules. And I do not practice any specific religion, however I do honor all. I simply do follow (unconsciously) rules that makes us, humans, decent, respectful, helpful, compassionate, using our minds to think and using our souls to feel,.
And that I call real religion. Real? What kind is that? As I just said: REAL...
About the Author
Originally from Central Europe, now living I Colorado, US. Came as a political refugee, over 2 decades ago. Lived under all 3 regimes, communists, socialists and capitalists, travel extensively and speak 6 languages. After 2 decades working as financial adviser (last 12 years independently), now Entrepreneur and also writes as a blogger. More about me is available on my site.