Is Religious Faith A Good or Bad Thing?
Is Religious Faith A Good or Bad Thing?
by Sean Ash in response to Sammuel Mack-Poole
“Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.”
In this response to a very wise and intelligent friend, I will not attempt to debunk or refute his historical or present claims regarding some of the most horrific and tragic things that have been carried out in the name of religion. As a humanitarian, I share the same sadness and sympathy with all bloodshed and atrocities that have been committed throughout history. Although, I will argue that religion is not the only idea or belief people have killed in the name for. We must not forget those who have also slaughtered in the name of communism, capitalism, anarchy or for any other idea or belief they hold close to their hearts.
If a communist despot should kill millions of people in the name of communism, does that make communism inherently a bad thing? I would argue that it is what you make of it. A hammer might be used to hurt others or it can be used as a tool to build things. Religion is no different to the hammer. It is a tool, that if used correctly, can help to restore the broken and create far greater things than all that is bad.
Unfortunately, for a long time, religion has been used as a tool to destroy rather than build. It has been lead astray and capitalized on for selfish means. Placed in the wrong hands, it has been setting negative examples as leaderships have selectively used the scriptures and teachings to enhance their own ends.
I can understand why there is disillusion and so much hatred towards religious institutions. The same way that people hold such regard towards many politicians and political parties when they have not been acting in the best of ways. The public may feel like they have been betrayed, and so many decide that it is best to vote never again.
“They’re all the same” is something that is most commonly jeered by people today. The Atheist, in this analogical sense, becomes the anarchist disillusioned with the state. Although, the fundamental and key difference here between a Atheist and the Anarchist is the former will reject the existence of God but it is the latter who rejects the state, but does not necessarily deny its existence. As someone with faith, I believe in the state and that is why I want to be part of it.
One might argue what the hell does God and a State have in common? I would ask you to show me what a state looks like. I suppose it brings us back to philosophy; is that a forest over there or is it merely many trees? You see, there are abstracts that we are willing to concede and accept, but only the ones that commonly suit so that we can mutually identify and understand what we mean when we are pointing at something.
We could argue the same with the word ‘government’ or ‘power’. Do we deny either of these things exist? And yet we can see neither for what it is but only through consequences do we decide whether it is a good or bad government or if the force being used is good or bad. The very same way that you are blind to the wind yet feel it hit your face on a cold day, there are many of us who open our hearts and feel God. It is very real.
Religion has come under fire because throughout history people have been using it wrong. They have given it a bad name. When people point at it now, they mainly say that it is wrong, but that is because they are only ever shown the wrong. Like when the six O’clock news comes on in the evening; the good deeds are never recognized, as all that we are shown is that a woman was raped today, or that a man has been murdered.
For example sake, both the raped and the murdered were done so by a “black male”. This of course then sets off tensions and all a sudden every black male is now guilty of a crime they have never committed! It is like every good Muslim to have their faith ridiculed because a minority of individuals uses the hammer to destroy. To say religion is good or bad is to stereotype it and I argue that all stereotyping is incorrect and irrational.
The News does not set out to deliver the good news because, in all truth, who would listen to it? We are selective beings who cherry pick and choose according to our taste buds. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this but maybe the word ‘absolutely’ is where the problem rests. I will come onto that.
When one truly studies the tool, they come to understand the true nature behind religious teachings are very much philosophical rather than the FALSE notion of it being controlling and brainwashing. The biblical words are not to be taken literal but as lessons to be learned from. Like you would understand the lesson behind the story of Pinocchio, or the boy who cried wolf. It doesn’t mean that our noses are going to actually grow if we fib or that sheep are about to be feasted on because we have been lying, but it gets us questioning certain actions and if they can lead us onto positive or negative outcomes.
I always like to refer to the teachings of the Ten Commandments as well as the teachings of Jesus. These are good teachings that can be used to create good things. Those who want to cherry pick the bad parts will ultimately do bad things. However, its teachings are ultimately to show you both the good and the bad so you can make your own minds up.
And this brings me onto the crux of my argument. There are many things in life that exist, and when taken in good proportion, they can be very healthy for you. Yet when the exact same things are taken excessively, they have the complete opposite effect. Religious faith is neither good nor bad but it is what we choose to make of it. It is the hammer that you get to either build or destroy with. You have been given free will, and so it is for you to decide. I openly accept the right for all to be self-determined, and if a gay man was being persecuted, I believe that Jesus would stand by his side rather than join in throwing stones. The bible teaches us to stand against oppression, even though other parts promote it. It is not one-sided. It is not absolute. Religious faith is neither good nor bad. It is what we make it.
As you rightly said yourself, “the debate will be focused on the ball and not the man” and so we must not allow the man to be the definition of the ball.
To read Samuel Mack-Poole’s Original Article Please Click Here