Isn't it amazing what divides people? You mention religion or politics and suddenly all sense of civility is gone, and people are at each other's throats. Good people. People who would otherwise really like each other and would get along swimmingly suddenly are fighting (sometimes violently) with each other over something so trivial.
Take this whole 9/11 "mosque" issue. You know... If there were no religions around, there would be no Islam. Without Islam, those muslim fundamentalists that crashed planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon wouldn't be religious fundamentalists. They'd just be a bunch of crazy people who hate America, and everyone in the whole world would agree that those people are crazy, and that's all there would be to it.
Now, we have people blaming Islam for the actions of crazy people. We have an old tech at work. He's in his 60's. He fought in Vietnam. He likes to think he's as American as apple pie. He stated the other day that Muslims have no regard for human life and shouldn't be allowed to worship anywhere in this country. He said this despite the fact that we've had 3 Muslim employees who have worked for us within the last 2 years who were the nicest people you'll ever meet. Seriously, I can't think of nicer people than them, but our old "American" tech thinks all Muslims should be "round up and shot."
Religion divides more people than it unites, and it doesn't even make sense in doing so. For example, if you're a Christian, you believe in Jesus and the resurrection and all that stuff. Since you believe in that, do you believe Muslims are wrong? How about Jewish people? Are they wrong too? Is anyone who doesn't believe in your particular faith wrong?
I'm sure even if you believe they're wrong, any rational good-hearted Christian would say that it's OK. As long as they live a good and moral life, they'll still be accepted into the kingdom of Heaven. If that's the case, what's the point of any religion then? Why don't we just all agree that we should treat each other well and stop sectioning ourselves off into little groups who believe different things that ultimately don't matter?
As for prayer, I'm not saying the "power of prayer" has never helped anyone. Sugar pills have helped people too. Placebos actually work, that's why you have to compare drugs to placebo and not just to nothing at all. If people really believe something will help them, there's a good chance that it will.
Know what the crazy thing to think about is? A million years from now, humans, as we now know them, probably won't exist. The Earth will still be here. It will still be teeming with life, but the human race will be long gone. We'll have either evolved into another species or gone extinct from either a natural disaster or our own tendency towards violence. However, let's say by some incredibly long shot that humans actually do still exist a million years from now. I can assure you that your religion and all the other religions on this planet will no longer exist. The Earth will still be here though, and so will life in some form.
My point is that any religion or way of thought that somehow places a higher importance on human beings than any other animal or plant will be shown to be wrong when we no longer exist. Humans are no more important than a dog or a cat or a cockroach in the grand scheme of the universe. We're here now, but the span of human civilization will be nothing but a nanosecond compared to the entire span of the universe.
And that's the answer to what happens after we die... Life just keeps rolling along. It doesn't miss a beat. It just keeps going like we were never there. People don't like this explanation though. It makes them feel sad, lonely, and worthless. Therefore, they look for something that makes them feel like they matter. We don't matter... but that's OK. It really is. Life doesn't have to have a purpose. It can just exist, and that's perfectly fine.
- This post was originally an email to a friend regarding our differing views on religion. I thought it fit in nicely on the blog, so I copied it and made a few small alterations. Therefore, if it seems a little disjointed, it wasn't originally intended to be a blog post. I just like putting my ideas in my blog, especially if they are pretty well thought-out.