Whatever religion it is you hold yourself to, there is one thing that is universal pin that combines them all: If you don’t behave, things won’t work out the best.
In Christianity, there is hell (for the misbehaver) not to mention purgatory. In Buddhism, there is ‘Bad Karma.’ Islam also teaches of a hell, Jahannam I believe it’s called. The Hindu’s have Naraka. I mean, I could go on and on but you get the point. Religion, all of them, teach that if you mess up in this life, you’ll pay for it in the next.
Although I have many issues with organised religion, this is one of the ones that really gets my goat. The idea of a hell, as a place that genuinely exists, is so far beyond the ridiculous that it really shouldn’t have to be believed at all. Yet it is. By billions. Isn’t it terrible to think that people live their entire existence not with an expression of love, joy and happiness but out of fear. Fear of damnation to a place that does not exist.
For me, there are two points in particular I want to make on this. This idea of punishment by a jealous, angry, bitter and petty God! Well this God bears no resemblance to the loving and forgiving one religions speak about in the same breath. Secondly, who is it that decides what counts as ‘wrong behaviour’ that needs to be punished?
One at a time. The angry and jealous God. Let’s look at him first. Or better yet, let’s look at who this God resembles for he does not exist at all. This ‘God’ with all the negative attributes, he is nothing more than a reflection of a human being. Jealousy, bitterness, anger, resentment. These are all human qualities. Let us take the point for a moment that God is all powerful, all loving, all merciful, all caring (something all religions agree on). Well these are wonderful attributes for a God to have. Wonderful indeed. That God, now that’s a God I could come to like. The other one, the angry, demanding one, he was made up by man (just like the devil was) to keep us under control. For why would a God who created us, not allow us to live our lives as we see fit? Why does he need our obedience? Why does he need that control over us? If it’s that upsetting to him, then why didn’t he create us to do his bidding instead of giving us free will? He didn’t. This vengeful, jealous God is a myth created by man (men in charge of things) to keep us all in control. Because jealousy, resentment, anger, bitterness. These are not Godly qualities.
With regards the second point. ‘Wrong behaviour.’ In the general sense of Christianity we have the Ten Commandments that Moses brought down from the mountain. Then within Christianity, the Catholics have their own extra little twist. Original sin, Venial sin and Mortal sin. Too much to go over here in this piece, but google it. It’s worth a google if you haven’t heard of them before. The main point here is, that no one can inherently agree on what is ‘wrong behaviour.’ The greatest one that we can come close to, is that murder is ‘wrong.’ I’ll agree with that. Yet, under the right circumstances, it’s seen as ‘right.’To kill another who is attempting to kill you is not called murder but self defence. Many countries still have the death sentence. America, a highly Christian country, allows the murder of its citizens as a form of punishment (a very human response quite like their God). In many Middle Eastern countries, the death penalty is administered for crimes a lot less ‘wrong’ than their American counterparts.
The thing with right and wrong is that it is completely subjective. Even the ‘rules’ that Moses brought us down, should they be interpreted literally, suggest that these nations who use the death penalty (murder) shall go to hell. I wonder if that’s the entire nation or just its leaders.
The way I see it, God doesn’t care. That’s not to say we’re not loved. Just that what we get up to here in our lives is not all that important. It’s the experiences we have within this life that matters. He doesn’t care because the outcome is inevitable. We all end up back at the source eventually. Sure, it would be nice if everyone was cordial and peaceful towards each other, but the only ones who care about that is society itself. God’s not bothered. He knows who we really are and in the end it’s all going to be just fine. I set my stall out accordingly. In the end, it’s all going to be just fine. No other outcome is possible.