Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Waxing lyrical about philosophy

It is indeed fortunate that tomorrow is a public holiday. A break is always nice.

Yesterday, one of my colleagues went to watch Life Sdn Bhd 3 at the Actors Studio, Bangsar. It was the opening night yesterday, and I had actually planned earlier this month to go watch it. Anyway, it ain't gonna happen. The colleague pretty much enjoyed it, and she also felt inspired. After all, that was her first play she attended. I think I’ll most probably give this a skip, as I have plans on Saturday and I prefer to rest at home on Sunday.

For the past week or so, I have been pretty busy reading. It’s all due to Sam’s influence that I am reading philosophy and writings of famous people in the past. He has read a lot on this subject and on religion as well, and according to him, that’s how he settled for Christianity. He has tried to convince me likewise. However, I beg to differ. As Thomas Paine said, “I have always strenuously supported the right of every man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine.”

I have been reading Mark Twain’s satire “Letters from The Earth”, Bertrand Russell’s “Why I am not a Christian”, Robert Ingersoll’s “Why I am an agnostic” and Thomas Paine’s “The Age of Reason”. I may be biased in my choice of reading material, as all these writers are either agnostic or deist. However, the way I see it is that this is my way of exploring spirituality and to come to a conclusion on my own. I am open to pro-Christianity writings, and one of colleagues has suggested Thomas Aquinas.

As all these writers were from the West, they obviously had not much exposure to other religions besides Christianity. To them, the religion has so many inconsistencies and inaccuracies, it is indeed a wonder that Christianity manage to survive till this day. I attribute that as a result of organised religion.

One of Thomas Paine’s contention against the Christian religion is the argument that, after Satan liberated himself from the pit (he was confined there after being defeated by God), he seemed to have taken on powers as much as God himself. This is because the Devil is said to be everywhere (omnipresent) and tempting everyone to indulge in sin. People do blame everything that goes wrong on the work of the Devil, don't they? The question is, how could he have done that as he is only an angel and angels should have less power than God. From an angel, he became the God of Darkness and Evil. Also, notice the similarity between this and the Greek mythology of Zeus and his many children, who were lesser gods.

In addition, If God had really wanted to tell us about his Word and wanted to spread the good news to the whole world, surely he would have chosen someone who could speak hundreds of languages, whereas Jesus spoke only Hebrew? God is unchanging and eternal, so why should His words be open to interpretation? Even in it’s original Hebrew language, there are differences in opinion on what some of the words meant. For an example, please refer here. Everyone knows that in translation, very seldom can the original meaning be transferred to the translation and meanings are often lost. As there is no universal language, which everyone understands, how can Christ claim that he brings the word of God to all?

Furthermore, how can a loving God condemned a person to eternal punishment, just because he or she does not believe in Christ? If that is the case, one billion of Chinese will be going to Hell. How reasonable is that?

The concept of redemption, whereby man may be delivered from sin and its consequences by the sacrifice allegedly made by Jesus Christ, has made it possible for the church to sell redemption letters in the Middle Ages to so-called sinners and they made a huge profit out of it. That concept just feels wrong and counter-intuitive. Someone else takes the responsibility for another’s actions. We are supposed to believe that God came in human form to earth, make a big drama to show that he loves us and then die in an equally spectacular way. If Christ died for our sins, shouldn't we back in God's graces now or that man has returned to his original sinless state?

Another point is that if Jesus is Son of God, why weren’t the scriptures written in his time, when he was still alive? All the gospels were written after he died. Perhaps the writers felt that it was more credible then. Also, all the miracles that supposedly happened were witness by a few people only. For example, when he arose from the dead and ascended to heaven, there were less than ten persons who saw it. Anything is a miracle, if we do not the principles behind it. The formation of a rainbow would be considered a miracle too, if we do not know about light refraction.

Sin. That is the one word that Christianity always talks about. Because of the original sin (eating the apple), we as descendants of Adam have to suffer pain and evil in this world. Apparently, God believes in sin being passed down and remembers it all the time as He holds generations of humankind accountable. Nope, there’s no such thing as forgiving. So, if someone did wrong to another person, let’s say the husband ran off with another woman, we shall punish their children, and their children’s children. Makes so much sense, doesn’t it?

I strongly recommend that whoever that is searching for answers to read those writings. I have included the links on the right. Whether you are searching for something to believe in or contemplating leaving a religion or perhaps you have some free time, the thinking and ideas of those men are indeed worth reading. It goes to show that most of our questions on existence have been, and still are, being discussed and dissected.

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