One of the things that I want to talk about is how people are often too busy being frustrated with religion, and denouncing its beliefs to really enjoy it. That’s right, as agnostics and atheists I think that we should enjoy religion. Part of being human is the religious experience, and to completely eliminate it from your life is a mistake all too often made.
I remember several years ago I was watching the movie Kundun. For anyone who may not know, it was a story about Buddhism, and the life and exile of the Dalai Lama. At one point in the movie Kundun (the Dalai Lama) met with the Chinese dictator. The line that I remember most from the movie was when the dictator told him, “Religion is poison.” At the time I was a devout christian, so I remember my jaw dropping open, and not being able to think anything else except, ‘What an evil man!’
But oh how he was right!
Religion is indeed poison, and this is something that I believe atheists and agnostics see. However, I don’t think of it as the crippling sort or defect in any way. Religion, to me, is at the very heart of what it means to be human. When I read about the different types of religious beliefs that are out there, I am always amazed at the richness and diversity.
One of the African religions that we briefly talked about in my religious studies class teaches that the unborn have a voice and spirit that enters the womb, and uses the voice to communicate with the mother. The way that children are named in that religion is when the mother undergoes a ritual during her pregnancy, and becomes possessed by the spirit of her baby, that begins talking to the shaman through her. The belief is that the unborn child announces its own name. Now I know that some are going to think that’s completely ridiculous, and I admit that I don’t believe it at all myself, but wow! This belief is very real to those who practice it, and even though I couldn’t rationally convince myself of its validity, I can’t help but appreciate and be fascinated by it.
Just as much as religion is poison, it is also an art form–like beautifully woven poetry. Take your scientific glasses off once in a while to appreciate what humanity has written.