I was taught from youth, indoctrinated really, to believe that religion is the reason for morals. That without religion, societies would be without morals and egregiously decadent. For much of my life, it did not even occur to me to question this taught in youth belief. I went through life simply assuming that it must be true by inherent default, and that this is why religion and being religious is needed. I saw life this way even when I began to question the honesty, reasoning, and truthfulness of religion and religion’s version of human history. I saw life this way, because I’ve always known “religion is the reason for morals” as true, and knew of no other way to look at it – no other alternative or option. That is, until I started studying academic history and archaeology and psychology, and so forth. That is, until I started to travel around the world and experience human communities outside the worldview of the one I was raised in.
Before my awakening to the indoctrinated state of my mind, I knew that within my own community and within my own country that, even with the emphasis on religious upbringing and involvement and insistence that religious values and morals be upheld, still yet within my very own society are examples too numerous to count of people and groups doing the most egregious of acts. Often, most – if not all – of them were raised in a religious-emphasized indoctrinating culture. So, how is it, I began to question, that so many still end up or choose to do “immorally”, despite religion’s ready presence? Even now, with my now beginning to question life’s perspectives, I still was yet too ready to just easily and readily accept the common religious explanations for this without much further thought. But then, something eye-opening and wonderful happened. I began to travel!
Taking up the life of a traveler exposes you to a variety of different cultures, governments, religions, philosophies, and so forth – many of which are very different from the one we individually grow up in. In my travels, I discovered that the most moral countries I’ve ever had the pleasure of being in or exposed to happen to be the least religious. I began to ask myself, how possibly could this be so? If religion is the source of morals, how is it countries that reject religion could be more democratic, ethical as a populace, have lower crime rates, have more general compassion for the welfare of others, and be more eco-conscious friendly? And, in my travels, this being contrasted starkly with being in countries where religion dominates and controls everything. There are more punishments for perceived crimes, a greater disparity between women and men, as well between one race/ethnicity/religion and another, a constant threat of violence and warfare in the streets, a general lack of empathy among the populace, and an utter lack of regard for the environment – the future of our humanity, if taken care of.
With my travels came the slow but sure breakdown of the religious indoctrination of youth deep within me, the slow but assured realization and discovery that I had only a “taught” version of truth – a very specific way in which to look at the world. Most importantly, I discovered that the way I had been raised to view the world is not the only way in which to view this world. There are other ways, outside of religion’s input and influence, by which to view the world much more factually and accurately and much more historically accurately. I had begun to discover a world based in embracing reasoning, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, and ethics without theology and a theology’s added god-concept. I learned in my travels and studies that forming some kind of non-theistic ethics is the natural inherent state that we humans think in, and historically such embraced thoughts work their way into religious thought and belief soon or, as is more often the case, a very long time after.
I became very aware that morals do not come from religion. Rather, religion simply reflects the non-theistic ethical/moral values the religion was developed in. In time, due to secular free-thinking influence upon it, religions slowly transform and evolve – always very resistant-ly so – to more moral states and stances that generally contradict the fundamental texts the religion is born upon. It is the justification of enlightenment and the after claim that religion thought of it first that is used to keep the religiously indoctrinated into believe that a religion’s way is best and religion is the reason for morals. In everyday reality, though, non-theistic non-religious secularist thoughts on human ethics is the real reason for the changes in societies. We, as human beings, are inherently good without god, and are inherently prone to forming societies based upon beneficial laws and beliefs rooted in an ever evolving understanding of what is ethical. And this is so, whether a society embraces religion or not. In fact, it is easily demonstrable that societies that not religious – that do not reject nor endorse religion, are the most quickest countries to develop a higher standard of ethical/moral living and place national emphasis on this.
In the religion I was raised in, adherence to this religion’s morals, beliefs, and religious laws is necessary, all to ensure that I have a chance at entering the world to come. I no longer believe that this world actually exists. Rather, it is a clever and well designed imaginary religious fabrication taught to us to ensure that we remain on the religious path throughout our lives. For, if one is taught this and believes this early enough in life – can imagine this world-to-come for themselves, then this world takes on a believable life or reality of its own in our heads. It our fabrication, our belief now, and for most holds a bit of reality within us throughout our lives. But, through un-indoctrinating from a religious view of reality, I have come to learn to observe reality just as it obviously is. Without any human imaginative fabrications added to it. I no longer believe in an afterlife, for I no longer have a reason to believe in it. For me, personally, it is no longer necessary to embrace the social presence of this human imagined concept and, instead, devote my time to finding what joy and amazement that I can amidst the uncertainties and tragedies that equally accompany “living life”.
When we live, we live in joy and suffering – both extremes being part and parcel to the experience of living itself, of being alive. When we die, we simply die – and all that we individually were for a moment simply fades away, atoms and energy re-dispersing throughout the fabric of the universe. From non-existence we came, were formed into a breathing body-mind, and into non-existence we return. And this natural order of things is totally alright. Understanding this, we can realize that it is a good life! We are but just a momentary expression, a grand expression of life, in this universe comprised with life – and even the universe has a beginning and an end. To be no more itself, once its time has finally come. Why should it somehow be any different for us, just because we can fantasize and hope for this?
The ability to believe in a god is a uniquely human capability. For it is we humans that have created our imagined gods and goddesses – every last one of them, our sacred words and religious rites, and even the various words themselves for this not directly see-able or know-able thing we call “God”. We first learn about god from other human beings, and then created our own personal model of this imagined god from what they teach and what we conceive within our own imaginations. This doesn’t make god real, it only makes our expressions about the reality of a god real. And, as I’ve come to be aware of, we don’t need and never have needed, really, a god to be good and decent and productive and compassionate and attentive human beings. We only need to be observant of our collective-ness and our very human condition. This alone is enough to stir the need for ethics and reason within the human mind, powerful motivators that translate to behaviors and actions that we idealize as “morally good”.
I, like generally every human on this planet, am mystified by our very existence as a species. We are intricately unique and complex. All of us together, the life forms living and reproducing on this planet. As humans, we have a special ability to be self-aware of our individual animal reality upon this planet. An awareness of this reality that has stirred creative abilities within us, such as abstract thinking, language, music, art, and so forth. This, plus the discovery that we survive better learning to live together against our natural self-oriented survival of the fittest tendency, has led to our cultures, civil ethics, and religious mores and beliefs. We are amazing, even at our cellular level! As we discover ourselves more and more, it is no wonder how we can come to the imagined conclusion that some god or goddess exists that created this world and us. For, we know as the creation, or more accurately the evolution, that we ourselves could not ever create on such an intricate level as this, and probably never will be able to. We can learn to limited-ly control and manipulate, within the limits imposed by this reality itself, but this is about it.
So, we are left mystified, and left to our imaginations to fill in what we do not know, but ponder on. If it is thought of in any of our languages, it is of human origins. Once we’ve accepted this, it is easier to embrace the reality we experience – whether we find it fair or unfair – and accept the natural order of things and our place in it. Where we are working from a reality based awareness of the world, and doing good in this world simply because the opportunity is there before us to do this. We don’t need a reason or justification more. As to the propensity towards believing in and worshiping gods, the gods we create, I respect the need but encourage the avoidance of the archaic religious trappings that are so stubbornly connected to this. I don’t believe anymore in a human made god, but do recognize the miraculous-ness of our intricate existence. I acknowledge that this is beyond my limited conceptual understanding, so I can only be in awe of it, for while I have breath and mind in which to do this. I don’t believe anything more needs to be added to this awe of ever growing awareness, and seek to better myself for while I am alive as a result of this. But, if I were to believe in and worship a human imagined god of some sort, I would have to say from looking at reality that this god presence is feminine somehow in its nature.
How do I come to this conclusion, you might be asking? It’s pretty obvious, really. Men do not create life. Rather, we contribute to and participate in life. We are in our nature pre-destined towards service to life and death. Even our religions so often reflect this, even though man is put on top and in charge and woman relegated as a lessor. But, the reality, though, is pretty clear and obvious! It is women that receive into themselves and, then, birth from this more new life. There are only a few species exceptions to this obvious reality about life, but for most, including the human species, this is the obvious reality. I’m saying that, if I were to believe in a god, I wouldn’t think this god is a woman. Rather, I would think that god, if a supreme creator of all life exists, is a feminine presence. A life-giver, which we perceive by what we are most familiar with – a woman. A male lives and, even, exists for a woman’s creative life-giving need and benefit. This is the inherent nature of our human animal species.
If we look at the universe, we can see that it was birthed from a great cosmic womb. In time the universe will grow old and perish, but just not as quickly as we species who are not so fortunate to share in the magnanimous lifespan of the universe. The fundamental purpose for our being birthed into this universe is to continue this expression of life re-birthed. How we express our existence, as living beings, is simply how we choose to express it. This expression is unique to the evolutionary development of each species that thrives and survives for a time upon this planet, and within this universe. If I were to ascribe a god to this marvel of intricate life incarnate, I would have to say this god is a she and call her “Goddess”. It only makes sense, by my observation of this world. But, like with all human conceptualized and imagined gods, I would have to worship her knowing that in me is the source of her creation. And we don’t need a religion for this.