Monday, June 27, 2022

Articles of Faith

Things as I see them.

There is no God.

There is no Heaven, no Hell, no Devil. There are no angels or demons or ghosts. There are no miracles.

There is no afterlife, no reincarnation. Whatever the "soul" can be said to be, it dissipates when the body dies.

There was no Original Sin, no Fall, and thus nothing to redeem. There was no Incarnation. Whatever the truth about his sayings and doings, Jesus was an ordinary human being. His mother was not "conceived without sin" any more or less than everyone else, nor was he the product of "virgin birth." He did not "die for our sins," he was not resurrected, nor will he return.

The universe is not concerned with our existence. In fact, even to say that it is "indifferent" is to engage in indefensible metaphysics. The universe is not capable of having an attitude towards our existence or its own. It simply exists. Why and how there is something instead of nothing is a question that neither theologian nor scientist is capable of illuminating.

Morality and ontology have nothing to do with each other. A godless universe is no more or less moral than a universe with a god in it. I once heard an Episcopalian priest, in the aftermath of one human-produced atrocity or another, say that if he thought for one moment that what had happened was God's punishment for our sins, he would put aside his priestly garments and walk out of the church forever. And so, in his place, would I.

The only true "sin" is cruelty, and the most fundamental virtue is compassion. There are more virtues than sins, because all sins ultimately come down to the same thing.

Religious institutions and religious leaders are susceptible of the same virtues and failings as everyone else. Many do good work, but many are corrupt and hypocritical. Much of the cruelty in the world is the outcome of religious belief, but much is not.

If religion gets you through the night, keeps you off the sauce, and maybe makes you a slightly kinder person, then more power to you, but if it serves as a cover for hatred and oppression, you'll get no respect from me.

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