My Take on "My Religion Can Beat Up Your Religion"

this is a sticky post. It will stay up here till August 8th, 2005 if things work like in my favor. Scroll way further down for day-to-day entries

Common Sense has posted a very nice and long article titled “My Religion Can Beat Up Your Religion” that has been making me itchy to do something about it. I am a moslem, and I won’t be neutral on this. I’ll let you know what a moslem should think about this kind of topic.

I’ll be quoting almost all of the article as I give my own take on the topic.


Religion, in its purest form, is an individual quest for the answers to life’s most elusive questions: How did we get here? What happens when we die? What is the purpose of life? Is there a higher being or greater power than ourselves? To what do we owe our existence? What do we owe each other? Man is a thinking creature, and it is in his nature to seek answers to all that he can know. But for those things that he cannot find conclusive proof, man ascribes the answer to a force bigger than himself, often called God.

This is a nice perspective. I’m sure many theologists started with similar premises. But as a moslem, I found so many times that the premise – man seeks answers through God – lacks something important: the presence of prophets. They were the bringers of those answers. Whether in the end the the answers stay in pure forms or got twisted with time, it is a matter of fact that God has given answers.

Something will be lost if men seek answers but not based by those given by God-chosen Prophets. Mostly because men will be totally unguided.


Over the course of humanity, different groups of people have found different answers to these questions, and through their interpretation of their world, have created their own version of God. The result is a smorgasbord of religious thought and theory, passed down through the millennia, ingrained in the culture and societies of our world. And as the cultures of the world began to engage each other, either through trade or through war or through serendipitous encounters, the constructs of religion were put to the test.

So many times, versions of “god” were created to function as basis to justify many things authorities in those different cultures have done or about to do. When the functions meet their contradictions, either through conception of newer, more logical concepts of “god” or through meeting with other culture’s conceptions of “god”, things started to go heated up.

More often because the believer in the conceptions of “God” were stubborn and unable to accept that the new conceptions are better, cause they may lose their status, and perhaps fear that they may be subjected to second-class if they accept the new conceptions. Many times, that what has happened.

And because the gods are assigned with such power and reverence, it is considered unwise to go against the common practices. Still, over time, religious concepts have changed as man himself has changed, and what was once the prevailing religion of the day is now relegated to mythology status or, even lower, superstition.

Sometimes the relegation happened because the believers willinly escaped the overpowered and illogical authorities in the said religions, or the the cultures that supported the religions have collapsed, on its own weight or because of interventions of other cultures.
Sometimes the old religions got assimilated to newer religions. Thus a kind of branching or infidelitiy occurs. Many times these assimilation persists because the preachers of the new religion needs the numbers of followers the old religion already has. Indonesians Islam has been the victim of this kind of assimilation.

It is undeniable that religion has played a major role in the development of our cultures, and that it still does today.

True, but further growth in cults of consumerism and capitalism has somehow diminish the role of religions.

On one hand, religion offers peace and purpose. On the other, it invites only misery and disdain. How this dichotomy is even possible would be a mystery were it not for one thing: the ideals of religion are simple; it is man who screws it all up.

I have answers for the dichotomy: overpowered rigid and illogical religion authorities, believers who block themselves from alternatives, and religion profiteers. Two will be likely to be perished along with the religion, but the third one my become thorn on the side for any religions who has contemporary powers.

The simple fact that there are so many variations of religious thought should lead a rational mind to conclude that either all of them are completely wrong, or all of them are at least partially right.

Or one may be fully right but the others are just clinging to their belief stubbornly.

Indeed, a quick review of varying religions’ basic tenets offers a surprisingly common premise, that the purpose of life is to attain happiness and appreciation of the world and all that it has to offer, and that to live a purposeful life one should treat others well and strive to do more good than harm. If, in fact, all religious teaching focused on these basic ideas, there would be much less strife in the world today. If the end result is the same, at least in terms of the way people relate to each other, does it really matter the manner in which these ends are met? The reality should be that the method of belief is secondary to the desired goal, which is peace with oneself, one’s world, and one’s neighbors. Whether you get there by praying to a single god, through offerings to multiple, minor deities, through meditation and introspection, or by secular means should be irrelevant, provided that you cause no harm to others in the practice of your chosen religion.

Absolutely True. Can’t argue more.

Of the existing major religions in the world today, you could probably divide them into two major sub-groups: the one’s that believe in an actual God, and the one’s that ascribe supernatural traits to the natural world itself.

Monotheisms and Polytheisms. Somehow nowadays, Polytheisms seems so outdated or got relegated as second class status present only at traditional rituals.
Do you know that there is an anecdote saying that Japaneses are “born Shinto, marry as christians, and die as buddhist?”

Those that believe in a single God are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In fact, the “God” of all three is the same God, and all three groups trace their ancestry to a single man, Abraham, and his sons. Judaism is the oldest of the three, going back some 4,000 years. Christianity could be describes as Judaism 2.0 and Islam as Judaism 3.0 (or Christianity 2.0), both chronologically and ideologically.

It interesting that it is viewed as that way. Why don’t Judaism 1.0 followers upgrade to Judaism 2.0 and later be upgraded to Judaism 3.0?
I have my own theory: the past versions of Judaism 1.0 and Judaism 2.0 has been hacked and cracked so many times by their authorities to ensure that their followers can’t upgrade easily and without fatal costs. This have been making their followers reluctant to upgrade. In case of Judaism 1.0 and Judaisme 2.0, the real unhacked versions have ordered them to upgrade as soon as new version comes along, if you can find any pure versions.
I prefer to call what he calls as Judaism 3.0 as Islam Final.

For some of society, no religion is necessary at all.

It can’t be. Some basic form of religion must occur in a society to do a basic funtion: unification of society members.

…eventually, it becomes important for us to learn a little bit about other people’s religions and ideas, if only to reaffirm our own teachings for ourselves. To learn another’s point of view does not have to jeopardize your own beliefs, nor does it need to lead to prejudice or hate. What difference does it make what I believe, so long as I am not harming you or anyone else? How is my choice of religion any more offensive than the color of my hair or the kind of car I drive? Why should someone’s religion cause them to be my enemy when I’ve never even met them?

What about go clear your mind off your current religions, like I have done before, and finding some logics in your own religions and compare it with logics in other religions? I’m happy in with mine cause I found it more logical than other religions.

Of all the things that can divide mankind, religion should be the last. …To use it in any other way is to negate any good it has and to spit on the very gods it worships.

But religion is the strongest tool for manipulation and can be easily wielded and brings out the most results. And yes, to use it that way means spit on the very God it worships.

I often feel that organized religion tends to indulge the worst facets of humanity while only professing to strive for the best. But whether I follow a specific brand of religion, or none at all, is irrelevant to the bigger topic at hand. What’s more important is to understand why religion has become such a divisive force in our world and what we can do to change that.

Let me rephrase: Overpowered Illogical Authorative Powers. They mean nothing without their powers, and they will try whatever they must to keep their powers at hand, even at the expense at the followers.
And that religion profiteers also need to be whipped. I have been thinking that those hypocrites are the maggots of civilizations.

I hope you stay tuned, because this conversation isn’t over yet.

You’re a great thinker, Man! I’ll look forward for another topic I can give my thoughts on.


tags: , ,
3 comments
  1. Let me first thank you for the great conversation, as well as the comment letting me know about your response to my essay. It is always a pleasure to engage in thoughtful dialog with people who have a different point of view, yet find common ground in spite of it.Your take on my essay is particularly interesting to me in light of your religion. Having been surrounded by Christianity most of my life, it is always enlightening to hear FROM other religious voices, not just ABOUT other religious voices through biased interpretations. Following are my responses to your rebuttal:You say that prophets offer the true word of god if only we remove the layers of obfuscation that have been built through years of cynical and power hungry theecrats. My question to this would be: How can you be sure that these men really spoke to or were inspired by god? We have but their say so, backed up by many years of repetitive assertion. Yet if I were to claim to be a prophet today, I would likely be branded as heretical. How can anyone be so sure that the prophets were infallible?The idea of religion being an evolving force of mankind, rather than an empirical one suggests that the religions that currently predominate our cultures will one day be replaced themselves by yet another more logical concept of god and religion. If one takes this view, then the logical conclusion is that no one religion today has reached it’s most logical point. Therefore, what is all the fighting about?Assimilation in religion is just as you say, with the fact being that many holy days are situated in months that have traditionally held celebrations throughout civilized humanity. All religions borrow from previous religions, both to endear the population and to continue long-established traditions.Yes- consumerism and capitalism have become religion-like in their own right. It is a sad state of affairs though, as these remove all ideal of concern for each other or our world.One may be fully right, but will that ever be proven? If not conclusive, one can’t truly claim certainty without doubt. However, I would not hesitate to claim false, any “religion” based in cruelty, degradation, and remorseless behavior. To kill or maim or hate unqualifyingly is nothing short of barbaric. Fortunately, most prominent religions are NOT based on these ideals, even though they are hijacked by zealots whose real goal is power through fear and subjugation.Polytheism is alive and well in religions such as Hinduism and native American spirituality, not to mention the more culturally absorbed practices common in Shinto, Buddhism, and Daoism, to name a few. But is reverence for the elements of nature and respect for what they provide any different, in the big picture, than reverence for a single god who provides the earth for our needs?I didn’t really mean to imply that any religion was comparable to an “upgrade” but can see how the implication is assumed. In keeping with that analogy, I don’t agree that 3.0 is the final version or virus free. Version 2.0 never wanted to be upgraded, since it is programmed to believe it is the final, definitive version. Version 1.0 still doesn’t recognize the validity of either 2.0 or 3.0 and is waiting for a digitally signed upgrade to itself. But in reality, the very concept of upgrade implies fault when the real issue is difference. The monotheistic religions view mans relationship with god from different angles- (1) obediance to god is the meaning of life and way to salvation; (2) a loving and forgiving nature is what brings one to god; or (3) surrender to the will of god and all will be as it should be. [Simplified concepts at best, but somewhat illustrative.]Social unification does not have to be based on religious similarity. It could be based on common intellectual interests, shared spots activities, or political ideology. Religion is just one of many possible unifiers, but top of the list for divisive institutions.Is religion logical because of the theology or because of the cultural traditions? It may be impossible to ever know as the two have become so inextricably intertwined through time. Often, it is the rituals and propietary doctrines of organized religion that either lend or debase credibility of logic. I am honored that you spent so much time considering my essay and pleased that you responded with civility and honest personal guidance. I too look forward to other such conversations.

  2. Thank you, Ken, thank you very much. The two of us are starting something here 😀 — You say that prophets offer the true word of god if only we remove the layers of obfuscation that have been built through years of cynical and power hungry theecrats. My question to this would be: How can you be sure that these men really spoke to or were inspired by god? We have but their say so, backed up by many years of repetitive assertion. Yet if I were to claim to be a prophet today, I would likely be branded as heretical. How can anyone be so sure that the prophets were infallible? –Let me teach you a little something about Islam. In Islam, we must believe in : God, The Angels, The Holy Books, The Prophets, The End of Time, and The Fate.As you see, The Holy Books come first. And the holy books can also be seen as Words of God. Prophets must have these Words of God in their possesion, or they must be deemed liars. The words of God must be comprehensive and cover all sides of life.In the old time, prophets must have some miracles to prove that they are indeed the messengers of God. Musa (Moses) has his sea parting miracle, Isa (or Jesus as the westerners call him) has the most powerful miracle: rising people from death. The latest prophet in the line of Abraham is Muhammad, from the Ismael’s line of descendants. His greatest miracle? The fact that he can overturn the somehow barbaric, divergent, and unruly arabic tribes into a single civilized prosperous nation that in the end brought end to both Persian’s and Rome’s powers in middle east, and the fact that the Quran (Koran) retains its original form after almost 15 centuries. The language form of Koran is so DIFFERENT from the language form owned by Muhammad.Now, if you are a prophet, what miracle can you show your prospective follower and what words of God can you give them (without entering trance first)?– The idea of religion being an evolving force of mankind, rather than an empirical one suggests that the religions that currently predominate our cultures will one day be replaced themselves by yet another more logical concept of god and religion. If one takes this view, then the logical conclusion is that no one religion today has reached it’s most logical point. Therefore, what is all the fighting about?–Idle Status Quo, Stubborn Man of Powers, Comforts of old ways. You name it. — Assimilation in religion is just as you say, with the fact being that many holy days are situated in months that have traditionally held celebrations throughout civilized humanity. All religions borrow from previous religions, both to endear the population and to continue long-established traditions. –Or to make way for the new teachings. Some of the followers of the old teachings will embrace the new teachings fully and discard the old teachings.Yes- consumerism and capitalism have become religion-like in their own right. It is a sad state of affairs though, as these remove all ideal of concern for each other or our world.It’s the survival instinct in us that makes all sort of individualim based form of cultures thrive and become overwhelming. — One may be fully right, but will that ever be proven? If not conclusive, one can’t truly claim certainty without doubt. However, I would not hesitate to claim false, any “religion” based in cruelty, degradation, and remorseless behavior. To kill or maim or hate unqualifyingly is nothing short of barbaric. Fortunately, most prominent religions are NOT based on these ideals, even though they are hijacked by zealots whose real goal is power through fear and subjugation.–Can’t agree more. Illogical Zealots are the parasites of any religions. I hate those Imams and Clerics who says every westerners blood is elligible to be spilt..they are being illogical which is far cry from what the essence of Islam is all about. — Polytheism is alive and well in religions such as Hinduism and native American spirituality, not to mention the more culturally absorbed practices common in Shinto, Buddhism, and Daoism, to name a few. But is reverence for the elements of nature and respect for what they provide any different, in the big picture, than reverence for a single god who provides the earth for our needs?–Let just say that One God eliminates the potency of questions like: what if the Grass God hates the Earth God? Will they do battle? Or what if The Sun God hates the Forest God..will he burn the forest?One God also makes us somehow more comfortable. We will more confidence and feel much more protected and cared cause we know what we worship has all the powers needed to make us safe and sound. — I didn’t really mean to imply that any religion was comparable to an “upgrade” but can see how the implication is assumed. In keeping with that analogy, I don’t agree that 3.0 is the final version or virus free. Version 2.0 never wanted to be upgraded, since it is programmed to believe it is the final, definitive version. Version 1.0 still doesn’t recognize the validity of either 2.0 or 3.0 and is waiting for a digitally signed upgrade to itself. But in reality, the very concept of upgrade implies fault when the real issue is difference. The monotheistic religions view mans relationship with god from different angles- (1) obediance to god is the meaning of life and way to salvation; (2) a loving and forgiving nature is what brings one to god; or (3) surrender to the will of god and all will be as it should be. [Simplified concepts at best, but somewhat illustrative.]–Well, it can be said like that. I cannot force you into thinking like my view on the versions of, let’s just say, Abrahamisms. It can be justified if ver.1.0 still waits for an upgrade, while ver.2.0 and ver.3.0 has been around for awhile. But upgrade from whom? As I said above, you need to have tremendous power and ability at your side to be able to function as prophet and bring upgrade to your belief.– Social unification does not have to be based on religious similarity. It could be based on common intellectual interests, shared spots activities, or political ideology. Religion is just one of many possible unifiers, but top of the list for divisive institutions.–True.– Is religion logical because of the theology or because of the cultural traditions? It may be impossible to ever know as the two have become so inextricably intertwined through time. Often, it is the rituals and propietary doctrines of organized religion that either lend or debase credibility of logic. –Theology. You can distinguish theology from tradition by looking directly at the holy book of the religion. See if the contents support each other or not. If not, there must be some logical faults in the religion. Traditions vary from place to place, but the holy book must not, cause it’s suppose to be the Words of God. If it vary from place to place too..well..Religion needs an organization. More of this later 😀 — I am honored that you spent so much time considering my essay and pleased that you responded with civility and honest personal guidance. I too look forward to other such conversations. –Well, we both have been honoring each other with this exchange of dialogue.

  3. You are a great writer, keep it up and check mine out if you like.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: