One of the students did not believe in the existence of a God and the other did not know what God was and wanted to know if religion was a necessity to live a life. My response is hereunder in the 90 minutes workshop on Pluralism.
March 8, 2018, Washington DC – A group of students from East Tennessee State University called in and wanted to learn about Pluralism and visited our office.
One of the students did not believe in the existence of a God and the other did not know what God was and wanted to know if religion was a necessity to live a life.
To which, I responded, “You don’t need a religion to live your life, your daily routine, and your activity remains the same with or without God. Breakfast, work, lunch, home, family, children, joys, hopes, desire to own things, disappointments….plus or minus a prayer ritual”
The student was raised without God programming. Each one of us is programmed by our parents, friends, teachers, and others to believe in God and we do, but those who are programmed differently believe what they have come to believe. Please remember both are beliefs!
In the early 80’s if you were an Atheist, people would look at you as if something is wrong with you. Thank God we have come a long way, and now the acceptance of the otherness of others is increasing on a daily basis. I believe 10% of the US population calls themselves Atheists or humanists, that is a drastic increase. Indeed the fastest growing religion in America is un-affiliated members. People don’t want to hear about hellfire anymore. The traditional sins are not sins anymore to the believers – like man and woman living together without marriage and the same-sex marriage, add to that women-led prayers in all religions. The definition of sin will change in the next few decades. In short, Sin would be anything that violates the rights and freedoms of others.
Way back in 1996, I had interviewed a former Soviet Union immigrant on my Radio show. She was not programmed with God, but when the Soviet Union broke apart, they opened the doors to Religious Salesmen (as she called them) and they set up their shops in a large convention center. She was hilarious, and said, these men were selling a product that did not exist for her. Each one of them was desperately convincing her to buy their version of God, a few of them even threatened her that she will go to hell and she asked them if they have been there. God was for sale for a variety of prizes. Finally, the Baha’i salesmen convinced her. I will have to write the full story on that.
Some of us make a conscious choice to extricate ourselves from the variety of God ideas and choose one that suits us. The unstated purpose of religion is to create societies where each of its members lives freely and with dignity. No one is invincible all the times, everyone becomes vulnerable one time or the other.
The discussion with the students was quite interactive. I started with evolution, big-bang and creation theories to origins of religions, the first species who was able to withstand the furies of nature was the man and was called Adam, the first man. The creation gave two products – life and matter. The matter is programmed to be in balance whereas life forms have to find their own balance. We talked about uploading DNA in humans to be free, an inalienable right of humans. We talked about the formation of societies and the role of religions.
They wanted to learn about Islam – a religion that I chose, not because it was superior, but because it suited me. No religion is superior to the other; religion is about humility that builds bridges and not arrogance that creates conflict. To claim your faith is superior in any form or shape is arrogance and, in my opinion, you did not understand your own religion.
Keeping rituals aside, what are the values of Islam that contribute towards the well being of the society at large – went in detail with each value and its significance to the society – Justice, Forgiveness, Equality, truthfulness, trust, individual responsibility and respecting the otherness of others.
Misguided people are those who do not get their religion right, we need to work with them instead of blaming them or their religion.
It was 90 minutes workshop and it is too much to write.
Mike Ghouse is solely responsible for the articles written by him or the workshops and speeches, and he offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.
The Center for Pluralism is committed to building a cohesive America where no American feels excluded. If we can learn to respect the otherness of other and accept the God-given uniqueness of each one of us then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. Our vision is to see each one of us live securely in the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. We bring Americans Together in social, religious, cultural, political, civic and other settings. The more we know each other, the fewer the misperceptions would be. At CFP we have programs in place to achieve this mission and offer pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.