May 252010

“Standing before a room full of fellow African-Americans, Jamila Bey took a deep breath and announced she’s come out of the closet.

Bey and other black atheists, agnostics and secularists are struggling to openly affirm their secular viewpoints in a community that’s historically heralded as one of America’s most religious.”

Chika Oduah and Lauren E. Bohn, Religion News Service

Pie chart of religions of African Americans
Image via Wikipedia

I think this break with traditional religious frameworks is both natural and healthy. For far too long, people have been asked to swallow the entirety of the religious teachings for whatever faith they choose. Religions all preach a special knowledge of the truth, and most present their way as the exclusive path to a desirable eternal life.

When people of good heart question the doctrine of their church, synagogue or mosque, they are typically dismissed as unknowing or immature. To cite inconsistencies in scripture is seen as heretical. To question God is blasphemy. Religious leaders profess to have the answers of eternity, but any thinking person knows that they’ve taken those answers from the works of men.

That said, I also think that atheism is a reactionary overcompensation for the dogmatism of our religious history. Atheists often express an intellectual superiority over those who believe in a god. Of course, their superiority is an illusion. They know no more of the reality beyond what science can explain than their Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu or Buddhist counterparts.

The real truth is that we humans only get to know so much. In the final analysis, we cannot even be 100 percent certain that a physical world actually exists, yet there are people who claim to know whether or not there is a god — or life after death.

Whatever position a person takes regarding the existence of god, they need to do so with full understanding that unless they choose agnosticism, they are taking a leap of faith. As Einstein stated, “What separates me from most so-called atheists is a feeling of utter humility toward the unattainable secrets of the harmony of the cosmos.” Such humility is the only appropriate posture with which to approach the question of god.

In the end, there are few things as personal as an individual’s belief in god. There should be no fear in exploring the possibilities. There should be no ridicule for believing something different. Questions should be honestly solicited and eagerly asked — and
“I don’t know, nobody does” should be a perfectly acceptable answer.

I look forward to a time when people of all faiths can band together and share their thoughts and beliefs without fear of reprisal. I look forward to a time when we focus on the common threads that weave their way through all religions. I look forward to a shared faith of what holds us together rather than what tears us apart.

Is there a god? I don’t honestly know.

Is there life after death? I can’t answer that for certain either.

I can say that I choose to believe in God and a hereafter. I take that leap of faith knowingly, sincerely, and with great humility.

And this I know without doubt: we are here, and whatever the truth is, we’re all in this together — our system of faith should start with that.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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