What's All This Then?

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

I started this blog in 2003 and it was in that year that I commented on the horror that took place nine years ago today. I made an odd reference or two on this date in some of the years that followed - but mostly to comment that nothing much had changed in the views that I expressed in 2003. Read the comments. I’m not going to repeat them here other than to re-acknowledge the role that religion surely played in that horrific event and to add a few words on what I think about religion in general and how it affects the conduct of most of the earth’s human population.

Unlike members of the non human animal kingdom, humans are both blessed and cursed with their unique status of having self awareness and knowledge of their mortality. From our earliest history as creatures somewhat resembling what we are today, humans have been unable to accept the reality of mortality. We simply don’t want to accept death as the end of all existence so we find a way to convince ourselves that it doesn’t really happen. We create a God. And then we tell ourselves that while we may appear to die - that’s only an illusion. It’s only our bodies that die. The real us - our souls - live on in some other plane of existence. Paradise. Heaven. It has many names, but its origins of course are religious belief. We are all creations of a deity. And therein lies a pack of troubles that have plagued mankind for centuries and continue unabated to this day.

You have to wonder if there was not the belief among Muslims that death was little more than a passageway to everlasting life in what they think of as paradise - whether the 9/11 terrorists would have been willing to give their lives for some cause in the hope or belief that it would benefit their fellow Muslims who they would leave behind to live their full assigned years on earth. I doubt it. You hear stories of men in battle giving their lives to save comrades - but those are instinctive acts - not carefully thought out and certainly not based in religious belief. Whether we want to think of the 9/11 terrorists as "hijacking" Islam or not, there’s no question that their religious beliefs were a large component of their motivation - and here we are nine years later , embroiled in controversy because of religious beliefs - theirs and others.

The spectacle of this publicity seeking idiot in Florida creating what could be an international crisis boggles the mind. If you needed an example of the downside of religion that is perhaps more understandable than the religion based mass killings of history, this nutty pastor’s antics are it. Think about it. Who is this nitwit who besmirches the name of a Monty Python icon? Is he someone who has distinguished himself in some way and so perhaps should be listened to? Of course not. So why are we listening to him? Because like many like nitwits, he has donned the mantle of religion and seized upon an ongoing controversy over the building of an Islamic center near Ground Zero to make his ridiculous pronouncements and thus has been able to set off an argument that has raged around the world and may not be over yet. Some of those other "like nitwits" have also threatened to hold a Koran burning and may yet set off murderous protests around the world. And not just in Muslim countries. There have already been protests in London by members of that city’s large Muslim population.

I have made mention here before that I have somewhat of a problem with Islam - not the religion - I am equally disdainful of all religions - but Islam as a way of life that imposes itself on its surroundings wherever they happen to be in non Muslim majority countries. It hasn’t happened that much as yet in the United States - at least not enough to be noticeable and annoying - but it’s highly noticeable in places like London - and as you can see from this story - in Paris as well as other European cities. I don’t think it’s bigoted or intolerant to be aware of this as a phenomenon and to say that it is something to monitor carefully. We have seen how home grown terrorists have emerged from their Islamic surroundings in England and it is not that much of a stretch to imagine it happening elsewhere including the United States.

But others have a problem with Islam the religion - just as many followers of Islam have a problem with competing religions. Believers in a deity are convinced that their belief is the true belief. That wouldn’t be a problem if those beliefs were just kept at a personal level and didn’t rise to the level of affecting the actions of humans in general - as in conducting "holy wars" or holocausts or suicide bombings to destroy infidels. Perhaps religion and belief in a God is necessary for mankind to hold on to some measure of sanity - though I doubt that any extraterrestrial visitors from an advanced civilization would look upon us as being sane - but it is more than counterbalanced by the horrors we inflict upon each other in the name of our concepts of that God and of our preferred religions.

There may come a day where the acquisition of scientific knowledge and what we might learn from those elusive extraterrestrial visitors will finally convince us to accept the finality of out mortality and that there is no need for belief in a God and no need to involve ourselves in the mumbo jumbo of religious beliefs and practices - but it will be a day too far off in the future to be even imagined. Meantime, we will have to live in a world where acts of madness in the name of religious belief - fatal and otherwise - will continue to occur and the news media of the world will continue to be consumed with the crazed antics of people like the idiot in Florida. The most we can hope for is that he will be condemned to oblivion before the ten year anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy is upon us.