Friday, September 16, 2005

Today I was thinking about religion and its effects on the world after reading the article "Some see a vengeful God amid deadly hurricane." It is a question that I often times ponder and so I will share with you my thoughts. How would the world be different if there were no religions? How would it be the same?

In my opinion, and I am sure you feel the same, the world would be a completley different without religion. The reason why this question bothers me so much is because I myself have never truly experienced religion, and my world is not drastically different. So perhaps, if there was no religion to begin with, we would be in the same spot we are in now.

One thing that would be different is the article that I read. It states that "God judged New Orleans for the sin of shedding innocent blood through abortion," according to Mr. Lefemine. This, is by far my biggest problem with religion. It seems that there is always some religious person pointing to people's sins for the cause of natural disasters. If God was mad at people killing innocent people, then why would he kill a bunch of innocent people using a hurricane? I cannot be 100 percent positive but I am assuming that he would not. I would say that if it were certain that there was no such thing as God, people would stop using religion as an excuse for natural disasters. If one were to do some research, they would find out that New Orleans being flooded was innevitable. New Orleans is below sea level and sooner or later a hurricane was gonna come along and destroy the city.

Another thing that would be drastically different is art. In the poem "The Privilege of Living" the author thanks God for life. What would replace God if one knew that He did not exist? Would it be nature or something else? I know that I would not write a poem thanking God for life. I am not sure what words I would use, perhaps my parents or the universe.

In my opinion, life would not be much different, looking at the big picture, without religion. I have lived my life without it and am fine. If the world did not know about religion, they would probably replace it with other things like myths. There would be something in place of religion that would help guide people to the right path in my opinion.

Some Sites

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Some religions that we have been studying in Dr. Klein's class are: Judaism and Islam. Today I am going to discuss, and leave up to the public, this question. If these two religions think they are the right ones, how can one choose?

I myself do not practice any religion of any kind. I do not necessarily consider myself an atheist, but I suppose I am not entirely sure. For me, my choice to not practice came at a young age. I went to bible school, but at such a young age I did not understand much. Throughout my educational lifetime, I have learned about severl religions and am learning more everyday. So how can I decide whether I want to stay how I am or to research and practice a certain religion. The reason for my choosing Islam and Judaism is because those are the two that I believe I would look most in to.

The reason why I believe Judaism is an interesting religion is because many people do not believe in the religion at all. "More than half of all Jews in Israel today call themseves "secular" and don't believe in G-d or any of the religious beliefs of Judaism." Another interesting thing to note is that only 50 percent of American Jews belong to a synagogue. Why would this be interesting to me? Because I am not the type of person who is going to get up every Sunday and go to church nor am I the type of person who would memorize the Hebrew Scriptures. I am the type of person however who may follow some religious rituals and some holidays. I am very interested in Judaism because to me it seems to be very open and to care more about humans opinions. For example, instead of saying a good person will die and go to heaven while a bad will go to hell Jews believe that yes the dead will be resurrected but as the article "What is Judaism?" discusses there is no mandated, official, definitive belief on death or other subjects like the univers and life. Instead, it leaves these things up to its followers. To me, this is a very important factor in choosing a religion because when one can make his/her own decision on an issue without being persacuted, it means the religion is very tolerant.

Judaism 101 is a very descriptive article which gives information on what Jews believe. To me, the beliefs of Jews are extremley close to my own. Two things Jews believe in are communal-orientation and that "when jews suffer or are persecuted, we all feel their pain." To me, the most important thing in my life is my family. This is the one reason I believe I have survived without practicing a religion. The thing that I struggle with is that by not being a Jew, it is hard for me to feel bad when Jews suffer or are persecuted. I feel pain when anyone suffers or is persecuted and I am sure most Jews do as well, however the key is that they feel more pain for Jews. To me, this is one thing that I wish I could experience but I am not sure how.

A second religion that has aways caught my attention is Islam. I first began to discover Islam and Muslims through a novel titled Malcolm X. If you have not read this novel by Alex Haley, I suggest you do. It is an autobiography of Malcolm X and how he became a Muslim later in his life. The book does not deal entirely with Islam as a religion but I did get a feeling as to what it is like to be a Muslim and it made me become more interested in the religion.

"Islam is the complete submission and obedience to Allah (G0d)". One thing that I find interesting about the Islamic religion is that they use Allah instead of God because God can be pluralized and Allah cannot. Another part of Islam that I like is how there is a historical relationship that exists between Islam and both Judaism and Christianity and the Qur'an attempts to show this relationship. The Qu'ran shows in Surah 19 how Jesus was in fact born from a virgin named Mary. However, the difference between Surah 19 and the New Testament is that the Qu'ran shows Jesus as a great prophet and the New Testament shows him as the unique Son of God. The Qu'ran also describes a number of other prophets and their sturggles with God like John the Baptist, Moses, Zakariya, etc. To me this would be important in deciding a religion because the Qu'ran covers what the other religious texts discuss, not just its own. To me this is more proof that the Qu'ran is a fact because it gives more of a historical account and allows one to see into the past. Also, the Qu'ran is believed to be in its original form. That what we read in the Qu'ran is exactly what Allah told Mohammed. Over a period of 22 years Mohammed memorized, then wrote down what Allah told him. If we assume this to be true, it is a better case for the Islamic religion because the Qu'ran is original, no one else could have added or taken out information and thus the Qu'ran is the voice of Allah.

The last class (September 15th) was, in my opinion the most moving one we have had thus far. In class we had a religious forum with people ranging from an Atheist to a Muslim. I believe it was the atheist, Paul Moore who stated that people have to "seek a path that satisfies you." Thus, I arrive at the answer to my question, for now. At this stage of my life, the thing that satisfies me is to not have any religious affiliation at all and that is my choice. My advice to whoever reads this is the same as Paul Moore said, do whatever satisfies your needs and wants.

Some sites