Note: Sorry for the length, but I would appreciate it greatly if you at least skimmed or read the last paragraph.
I know this is probably not the best time to be asking this question as it is 4:00 am my time, but I was doing my AP world history homework and came across this quote:
“It would be overly simplistic, however, to consider these doctrines [of samsara and karma] merely efforts of a hereditary elite to justify its position and maintain its hegemony over other classes of society. The sages who gave voice to these doctrines were conscientiously attempting to deal with genuine spiritual and intellectual problems. To them the material world seemed supremely superficial – a realm of constant change and illusion offering no clear sign as to the nature of ultimate reality. It seemed logical to suppose that a more real and substantial world stood behind the one that they inhabited. Greek philosophers, Christian theologians, and many others have arrived at similar positions during the course of the centuries. It should come as no great surprise, then, that the authors of the Upanishads sought ultimate truth and certain knowledge in an ideal world that transcends our own. Their formation of concepts such as samsara and karma represented efforts to characterize the relationship between the world of physical incarnation and the realm of ultimate truth and reality.”
This quote is talking about the religious views of the Upanishads in the late Vedic age (circa 1000 B.C.E.). The doctrine of Samsara says that after death, individual souls go temporarily to the World of the Fathers and then return to earth in a new incarnation. Karma accounted for the specific incarnations that souls experienced. Basically, if you do good things, you will return in the next life in a “purer and more honorable existence”, such as a higher place in the social class.
Now even though these ideas are not popular here in the west, one cannot deny that indeed most religions teach followers that there is a higher purpose to life on earth/an afterlife. We see this in the Ancient Egyptians as well. Mummification and the building of pyramids were both to help the pharaoh-gods have a peaceful afterlife.
The truth is, every single human looks for answers to intellectual and philosophical questions. In the past, religion was created to provide answers, but as time goes on, more and more people are turning to atheism. Science is providing us with the answers now, but this time, we have evidence. How is your religion any different from that of the Upanishads or Ancient Egyptians?
~Fourteen year old atheist
@Designed: Thank you for your very intelligent response. Because I am only fourteen, I have yet to read all of the holy books, but I am planning on doing so. I admire you for actually searching instead of just accepting what you were told like so many others, even though your conclusion is so far different than my own.
@Leonard: I agree with you on the point of Dr. Ross. I don’t believe any holy book is any more true than the next, however, I do wish to study them all (at least the major ones) and take a few religion/philosophy courses when I’m a bit older. My world history book really shows me the major effect of religion in society from near the beginning of human kind and how it evolved from one belief to another. I find it interesting in the similarities, but also the differences that can be explained by the geographical location of each society.
@Numbnuts222: Unless a better answer comes along later, I think you’ll be it. That is one of the most unique and insightful ways of thinking of religion that I’ve heard in a while. I will definitely look into Shamanism; thanks for the tip.
@Sunsandnrain: The year 2009 A.D. means nothing to me as that is not how I base my beliefs. I actually define the year as 2009 C.E. and before 1, B.C.E. which means common era and before common era. Yes, this is still based on the approximate time Jesus was alive, however, that is only for sake of connivence. This system was created in non Christian countries, and is widely accepted by scholars.
Then comes your false assumption that humans magically appeared by the big bang, which proves you know very little if anything about the theory. Ditto on evolution. (The two theories are completely different).
By your reasoning, there would be no atheists, or all the “supposedly” intelligent people in the world are either idiots or lying to themselves. Neither is true. I exist. I don’t believe in god.
Then why is the Big Bang not plausible to you? Using your logic: If I told you how it was started, then I would obviously be lying because I have no idea. So of course it’s true. (cont.)
(cont.) The fact is, saying something is true and proving it are two completely different things. All you’ve given me is a false argument as to why the Big Bang and Evolution are not true. Please, if you are going to try to disprove these theories, be familiar with them.
Then you use circular logic. Don’t know what that is? You already have google open. Use it.
@Paul h: Why would I ever do that without evidence? People find what they look for, but that is not a good thing. If I am looking for a FSM, I will ultimately trick myself into believing there is one. I, on the other hand, actually try going at different perspectives with an open mind.
As of now, I think that the initial energy that expanded due to the Big Bang has always existed, and eventually transformed into matter. One cannot create nor destroy matter or energy, therefore it has always existed. Why do we need to add another step to this process called god? She just raises more questions that cannot even begin to be answered.
Look up natural selection. It is far from random.
Man does not know that. Humans are animals. Do you think chimps believe in a higher power? How about dolphins? These are intelligent species, and they don’t feel the need to worship an invisible man in the sky. (Or chimp or whatever). Man has used religion to explain the unexplainable and it has been (cont.
(cont.) exploited by priests and priestesses over the years to control the masses and to receive money and power. Monotheistic religions did not even exist before the Jews. The Torah was put together between about 800 and 400 B.C.E. and the belief that Yahweh was the one true god came about by the eighth century B.C.E.
My question is: why do so many religious people pick and choose what they believe about science? You now know why an eclipse occurs, but when confronted with anything that contradicts your religion, it is automatically false. Why, then, is the reason for eclipses correct in your mind? Shouldn’t scientists be lying to you about this too?
Loving god. Have you read your own bible? He loves you so much, he gave you free will, but will send you to burn forever in hell if you don’t believe in and worship him. But don’t worry! He already knows that he sends you to hell, but does nothing about it. Oh, wait. He created me. He knows what choices I’m going to make, so why (cont.)
(cont.) didn’t he make me a believer so that I won’t have to burn in hell? Your god is NOT a loving god.
Circular logic again. Then, you are taking bible verses and interpreting them a certain way to make it sound like prophecies are coming true and that it has scientific discoveries written in it.
Picking and choosing science…blah blah blah…ignoring outlandish claims in your own holy book…blah blah blah
Just because none of these other religions are true, it does not mean yours is correct. Can you at least see that much? You can’t prove something true by disproving something else. It doesn’t work like that. Look up false dilemma.
You have NO idea how many religions came before yours and died out. Gods are based on society and what they value. A good example are the Ancient Egyptians. The cult of Osiris was based off of the myth of Osiris and how his evil brother Seth murdered him. Seth scattered pieces of his corpse throughout Egypt, but Osiris’ wife, Isis, (cont.)
(cont.) retrieved all of the pieces and gave him a proper burial. The gods were impressed by her devotion to her husband, so they gave Osiris eternal life as a god. He was the god of the underworld that weighed the dead’s heart against a feather. If it was heavier than the feather, it was weighed down with evil and the individual would not be granted immorality. However, if it was lighter, they received eternal life. This was a way of controlling the Egyptian commoners so that they behaved in a moral manner. Osiris was associated with the Nile that flooded, retreated, and flooded again the following year, and their crops which grew, died and sprouted again because of his resurrection. The Nile and their crops were very important to the Egyptians because their society was based on agriculture.
That was one of many examples of society influencing what type of god they worshiped. What can be said about the Abrahamic god, then?
I can’t believe you are as old as my son! I’ve heard boys mature slower than girls. 😉
To answer you, one has to research for themselves. I used to be a huge skeptic, thinking that all religions couldn’t be correct, so the chances of the most common one surrounding me being correct must be low. Then I started studying religions, etc. One thing that really struck a chord with me was the testomony by Astrophysicist Dr. Hugh Ross. Here is a little:
…I quickly discovered that all the major world religions are based on holy books, supposedly from God. However, I was a skeptic. Like the astronomers of my time, I upheld the “Big Bang” creation theory. I felt God must be impersonal and unconcerned for trivial human beings. Therefore, these holy books must be frauds, products of man’s imagination. Energized by youthful pride, I decided to prove it. My yardstick would be the facts of history and science.
The way I saw it, God created the natural world where we see consistency and no contradiction. If this same God was communicating to us in written form, then it must be likewise: consistent and free of contradiction.
I went after each holy book, one by one. I searched for statements about nature and history, then tested them to see if they were accurate. First I tackled the 3,000-year-old Hindu Vedas. They claimed civilizations living on the back side of the moon and cities on the sun. After finding a couple dozen such absurdities, I confidently concluded the Vedas were a human product.
I moved on to the Buddhist writings, then to Islam’s Koran and on through all the religions of the world. In each case, after several hours of study, I collected enough scientific and historical misstatements to convince me that each was of human origin.
I had a gut feeling the Bible would be the most difficult, so I saved it for last. After reading just two chapters, I saw that the Bible was different from the esoteric poetry of the other books. The Bible was direct and specific. It gave names, dates and places. My struggle with the other books was to find things to test. But every page of the Bible gave several things to be tested. The Koran had a dozen predictions; the Bible had 3,500! My notebook with historical and scientific statements that I tested and found accurate grew fat. But after two years, my notebook reserved for established errors lay empty.
I’ll admit I found lots of unsolved problems, things I still can’t understand today. But that didn’t bother me, because that’s exactly what we see in nature!
The Bible alone correctly predicted the birth and deeds of people by name-King Sirus, King Josiah, and the Messiah-sometimes hundreds of years before they were born. More than 200 predictions detail the return of the Jews to Israel, which I verified with articles in the London Times and the Jerusalem Post.
If we consider just 13 of the Bible’s predictions, what’s the probability that all 13 were coincidence? The answer is less than one chance in 10 to the 138th power. My friend, that number is so large that it means the Bible is more accurate than our most trusted laws of physics! This shocked me and sent me to my knees.
I must commend you on your insight for one so relatively young.
I cannot really speak out on the subject, since I am an atheist and have been since I was a little older than you are now.
Having read DesignedÂ´s comment, I can do nothing but sneer at dr.RossÂ´ suggestion that the Bible is somehow more veracious than other `holyÂ´ books.
If you want to know about religions, donÂ´t limit yourself to their Â´holyÂ´ books… also read ABOUT them.
My interpretation of religion is that it doesn’t provide you with answers, except in a general and vague way that you could quite easily glean from such things as horoscopes.
What it does do is give you a lens with which to view the world. If you suffer the loss of family or loved ones (which we all do at some stage), it gives you a set of rituals to mourn. If you want to get married, again a set of rituals are there to satisfy everyone. The same with initiating a child into society, you have baptism, confirmation and sunnah, if you are Muslim, or bar mitzvah, if you are Jewish. You also get codes of conduct on which to hang your morals.
In essence its a community thing, and that’s why it differs from location to location, but also why its similar, human communities have more in common than not. The details may differ, but we all have to face birth, life and death.
With the rise of secular culture, the need for religious morality is gone, we have more than adequate ethics in laws derived from a humanistic perspective. But I think we still need to evolve new rituals to deal with rites of passage and death, for instance.
If you are interested in the origins of religion, I suggest you look into shamanism. You would recognise many of the later religious practices in these early roots.
The Bible promises that anyone who truly searches for God will find Him..
In your search of the various religions of the world, you first need to ascertain that there is a Creator. Atheism is not based in reality. The realities of science show that there is no purely naturalistic explanation for how the universe could have formed from nothing, that matter and energy could not have existed forever, that time itself had a beginning or how life can be formed from non-living materials through purely random processes or how the informational system of DNA, which is found in every living thing and is a non-material entity, could have arrived from material objects through pure random processes….random chance is the opposite of an informational system such as DNA. An informational system (like DNA) is a non-material entity …it has no mass in and of itself….and could not have formed from material objects.
Since man inherently knows that there is a Creator of all things…a Creator he wishes to commune with and understand….the various religions have sprung up in attempts to do this or to merely subjugate the masses for the wishes of the powerful. Many religions have kernels of philosophical truths to them but ultimately fail in other regards. And many attribute natural phenomena to false interpretations of gods….people in some countries today STILL believe that a mighty dragon swallows the moon during an eclipse.
Christianity is the only major religion which is not based on human works to attain salvation…it is based on grace…the free gift of salvation and redemption from a loving God who created us and the universe we live in out of love for us and wishes to redeem us back to Him even though we have corrupted ourselves from our original perfect creation.
The Bible also offers many scientific truths which were revealed by God….the first sentence in the Bible affirms that time, space and matter all had a beginning which has been confirmed by science.
“In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth”.
The Bible also states 11 times that God “stretched, stretches or is stretching out the Heavens” in reference to the expansion of the universe. The Koran states this too but it is copied from Old Testament texts. The Koran states that the sun sets in a muddy pool and that human sperm is formed in the belly which is contradicted by known science. The Koran also states that Allah is the “greatest of deceivers”…that is one of the names given to him whereas the Bible states that God cannot lie and that Satan is the father of all lies…..how can you trust the Koran if it is the only true revelead word of Allah? Allah and Jehovah of the Bible are definitely not the same God.
Does the earth hang on nothing as quoted in the Bible or does it rest on the back of a turtle or elephant as the Hindu texts reveal?
Does Mt Olympus have a palace at the top for the Greek gods?
Is there a large tree in the center of the universe which sprang forth life on earth as the Norse mythology states?
What is the ancient Egyptian belief in the origin of the universe or life as compared to scientific knowledge?
How many accurate prophecies do other religions predict?
Since God is eternal and not restricted by time which He created, He see’s all of time at once and can accurately predict future events to man through His Word. The Bible has hundreds of accurate prophecies which came true hundreds of years after they were predicted…over 300 in Jesus life alone. Any 10 of which would be statistically impossible for one man to fulfill in one lifetime by chance.
The truth is that man’s quest to commune with and understand his Creator has been corrupted over time by various cultures for various reasons yet there is still one true revealed Word from God on earth and that is contained in the Bible.
Romans 1:18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen.
It’s fine to approach religions with an open mind but at some point, you have to use your intellect and decide if a religion or belief system is based on man’s flawed and false belief systems or derived from and inspired to be written by an actual Creator who wished to communicate His desires to us.
If you believe that the original energy which the universe came from always existed ,then you have stepped outside of the known laws of physics and entered your own belief system which is not based in the realities of science…..energy cannot have existed forever or else the universe would have already experienced a heat death…all available energy would have been used up or decayed. Stars would have burned out, etc…Something must be eternal…either a Creator or the universe and from what we know in science, it can’t be the universe or any supposed “multiverse” origin which is bound by the same rules of physics. If the laws of physics don’t apply to a multiverse, you have again stepped outside of the laws of science and initiated your own rules to apply to an unobservable entity. Matter is basically solidified energy so any matter could not come from anywhere else either except from being converted from energy. According to the known laws of thermodynamics, matter and energy cannot be created from absolutely nothing through purely natural means…only interchanged. That would appear to suggest that their origin was one of a super-natural event.
And man is not merely an animal although we share a lot of common design features….no other creature on earth is capable of contemplating the universe or our own existence and belief systems…no other creature creates machines….no other creature creates written language to communicate idea’s, concepts, thoughts, etc…with others and throughout time…no other creature creates musical scores which can be read and played by various artists….no other creature creates artwork to recreate scenery or lifescenes or portraits of famous people….and on and on it goes. Man is not an animal…we have a much higher intellect which cannot be accounted for merely by the size of our brains….some other creatures have bigger brains than we yet none come close to our intellect.