Questionnaire on religion

One of my YouTube subscribers, Chris Curley, is doing a college paper on religion. He asked me to participate by answering a questionnaire. The questions were excellent, and I really enjoyed putting my answers together. I thought I would share them with you.

Remember, of course, that I am simply one person sharing his perspective. I think it would be interesting if others commented on this post, giving their own answers to these questions …

1. Were you ever part of an organized religion? If so, were you brought up in it? What effect do you think that experience visits upon your current belief system?

I was brought up in a Protestant Christian culture, but did not have an overly religious upbringing. I entered religion willingly at age seventeen, when I became a born-again Christian. However, on reflection, “willingly” is not the most appropriate term when your willingness has been coerced into place by threats of damnation. I recall the saying, “You can’t make someone do something against their will, but most people don’t have much of a will to go against.” That was very much true of me.

My experience of religion, which lasted almost twenty years, was difficult in so many ways, as I battled through so much intellectual confusion and emotional battery. Now that I have emerged from it, all of that negativity has turned to positivity, as I now have 20-20 vision regarding all of the manipulation tactics that religion uses, and I’m in the position to help others avoid the suffering that I went through. In that sense, I have no regrets.

2. Are you currently part of an organized religion of any kind? If so which?

No. Religions divide humanity into exclusive clubs of “the saved” and “the damned”. I see them as methods of control, where a person is made to feel they need something that someone else offers in order to be complete. And of course, there are always conditions (controls) to accepting what’s being offered (forced).

3. Would you say that your beliefs draw from or originate from a particular religion or amalgamation of religions? Which have impacted your beliefs the most?

My current beliefs are based, first and foremost, on the tearing down of the entire belief structure that I was brought up with. All truth-seeking must begin with no assumptions about life. From ages one to seven, we are all like sponges, soaking up information from around us with no critical thinking. To a five-year-old, Jesus has no more genuine credibility than Santa Claus. As adults, unless we question all the things that have been been inserted into our minds, then how can we say we’re on the right path? Therefore, my beliefs are based on the purging of religion. Start by removing the indoctrination of your life’s experience, then move on to logically figuring out what you think is true. If that process means you end up believing the very same things you did beforehand, that’s all well and good. The important thing is that you put yourself through it.

4. What are your views on other, or perhaps, major religions? Are they institutionalized evil, essentially good, or is your stance more neutral or harsh?

There are those who say “You can’t judge a religion by the behaviour of its followers,” but I would say that that it’s the behaviour of the followers of a religion that exposes the very nature of the religion. In considering Christianity, Judaism and Islam, we find racism, killing and genocide. In 1 Samuel 15, from the Old Testament, God commands his people to slaughter the men, women, children, infants and animals of Amalek. The killing of an infant on the grounds of race alone is racism, plain and simple. Fast forward to the 12th century AD and we have Christians and Muslims killing each other for possession of Jerusalem. Why did the Christians do it? Because the Pope told them to, and the Pope is the vicar of Christ. Consider also the Inquisition, the conquest of the Americas – all done with the Church’s blessing.

Religion requires a person to sacrifice his free-thinking mind to the values of an outside source, be it a holy book or holy teacher. We are taught that it doesn’t matter what we think, because “God says …” And so we are controlled to do the bidding of another. But is that other really God, or merely greedy, powerful men with agendas of their own?

Yes, I think that religions are institutionalised evil. While they can be used to control people’s actions for the better, they are also used for the opposite effect, when desired. And the real evil here is the evil of control. Nothing bodes worse for religion that a world full of free-thinking individuals who know how to spot when they’re being manipulated.

5. Because these questions are geared towards those of alternative religions, I am very curious about what you believe about the purpose of religion. Is it a way of going to heaven when you die, or of achieving peace or understanding while we are physically alive? These are just rough examples, please explain as much as you would like.

The purpose of religion, in the minds of those who run the religion, is the maintenance of power and control over the masses. Every cult leader knows this. Why would it be any different on a massive scale? And the outworking of this is evidenced in the world every day.

The purpose of religion, in the minds of its followers (and I include ministers in this category), is the searching for an answer to the mystery of life. Why are we here? Where are we going? These are great questions, ones we should all attempt to answer, but the problem is that so many people gravitate to whatever answers are handed to them on a platter, due to whatever locale they happen to be born in. And so, Christian cultures churn out Christians; Muslim cultures churn out Muslims, etc.

People can and do follow religions out of noble motives, and because they’ve found a few gems of wisdom among all the confusion, they allow themselves to be duped by the whole structure. And once you start letting other people do your thinking for you, it’s game over. If I said to a Christian, “You’ve sold your soul to the devil,” they would be horrified. But I think the truth is uncomfortably close to that: “You’ve sold your mind, and thus handed over your life, to whatever human devils invented your religion.”

6. Do you believe in a heaven or hell? What happens when we die? Also, do we have souls (or spirits) of any kind?

I don’t believe in heaven and hell. These are religious concepts handed to us for the purpose of reward and control. They also take our focus off what’s really important, the NOW, causing us to focus all our attention on the future. But the future, being the future, never comes. Even in the mundane things of life, you can spend your whole life focused on preparation for things in the future, and when those future things arrive in the present, you’re too busy focusing all your attention on yet another future. I believe that the concept of heaven and hell is yet another attempt to divert us from the only thing that is truly real – the present.

What will happen when we die? Ultimately no one knows, because no one has come back to tell us. I think Near-Death Experiences might be an interesting study in this regard, but whether this will yield useful results is debatable at present. However, we can philosophise about what comes after death.

I have become aware of some very deep concepts that transform my understanding of life: I am not my mind; I am “awareness” experiencing my mind. Everyone experiences awareness, and all awareness is one. Beyond mind and beyond time itself, all that exists is infinite awareness, and what we call the movement of time is merely awareness experiencing separation from its totality. Everything is happening in a single moment of infinite awareness that we call “now.” (I realise this is a massive condensing of many ideas that require much thought.)

Possessing body/mind is like wearing a pair of glasses that have the wrong prescription, and so we go through life with limited vision. Death is merely the glasses breaking.

7. What do you think is the purpose of life?

That can be answered by simply observing what life is: experience. The purpose of life, then, is to experience. In this sense, no one loses out on the meaning of life, whether they grasp it or not, because they live it every day.

8. What would you say is the core idea or tenet of your belief system (for example, many Christians I know would say faith, or maybe even good will towards others)?

Everything is one.

9. In your view, is there good and evil?

Not in the religious sense. Generally speaking, the word evil, to me, is a term for behaviour that is negative, destructive, harmful, while good is positive, creative, helpful. Morality should not be a list of rights and wrongs defined for us by some supposed God-being outside of ourselves; that’s a sure-fire way to set man against man, to get him killing with joy for the glory of his God. A truly useful morality is one based on considering the consequences of our actions upon ourselves and others, because we are able to recognise the value of traits like kindness, compassion, empathy, and we see the kind of world we could create based on those values.

Since we are limited beings, we will inevitably have differences of opinion about exactly where to draw the lines of morality, but there is usually enough common ground to make civilisation possible. But civilisation has always been in a state of moral evolution (and sometimes devolution), and it always will be.

As for the supposedly objective morality imposed by religion, which has its origin in the perfection of an unchanging God, the problem is that we cannot find this objectivity anywhere in history. Religions have always changed over time, and their ethics have changed along with them. Today, we view slavery as evil, whereas the Bible defends it. Today, women can speak in church, whereas the Bible condemns that. Religions play the same game of moral evolution that non-religious people play, but are too hypocritical to admit it. It is too easy to focus only on the present religious climate and say, “Now we’ve got it right.”

The only ethics worth a damn are those that emerge from our humanity. Religion preaches a story that we are all born with original sin, and if left to our own devices we would pursue evil rather than good. This is an outright lie. When I emerged from religion and became aware of my individual responsibility – that I could not cry to some God for forgiveness when I did something destructive – then I took even greater care to pursue what is good than before.

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10 thoughts on “Questionnaire on religion

  1. Robert Miller says:

    “if left to our own devices we would pursue evil rather than good. This is an outright lie.”

    I beleive you are far from the truth here Darryl. Golding wrote about it in Lord of the Flies, and I think you see a breakdown of morals when it is perceived that the forces of law and order have disappeared as evidenced very recently in the aftermaths of the disasters in Haiti and Chile.

    I will also testify that it is difficult for a child to obey its parent. For instance I want my child to have both freedom, but he needs restraint too. He can think his freedom is limitless, but he needs restrained for safetys sake. Do you see this at all, are his freedoms being denied, infact how do you have a child live into freedom, despite parental restraint at a very general level?

  2. Darryl Sloan says:

    Hi, Robert.

    I fully admit, from personal experience, that on some level I’m at war with myself, in a sort of good versus evil battle, as I try to overcome things about myself that I don’t like. But the Biblical picture of man’s nature as essentially evil is not true. The strivings I have towards what is good are not due to some regeneration experience, or to some external influence on my life by a god-being. They are as much a part of me as the negative aspects of me that I want to transcend.

    I work with kids daily, as you know, and I see much that is good. Sometimes they delight in helping you; where does that inclination come from? As for the destructive stuff that we sometimes have to deal with, many times I’ve seen this turn around when children are simply reasoned with as people, not kept in line with threats of punishment. If “law and order” is the only thing holding us together as a species, then we really are in trouble. I know it’s not what’s holding me together. If society fell apart, I would not be raping and pillaging.

    When you point out various evils and crimes as proof of a sinful nature, you have to also bear in mind the massively mind-controlled state that most people live in, through religion, the education sytem, and the media. These fill people with materialism, lust for wealth, fear of survival, dog-eat-dog mentality, condemnation of all who differ, etc. People are not screwed up because of something that’s wrong inside them; they’re screwed up because they live in a screwed up society and they unquestioningly inherit its values.

  3. Naomi says:

    I found this very enjoyable to read, Darryl. My standpoint is identical. I’ve learned many things this past year. I can now believe full heartedly that I have made the right decisions and I’ve used my own brain to deduct what I percieve to be true.

    You’ll remember that I typed up a destressed blog post a while back expressing my emotional difficulties with religion. Since then, even in the short interval from then until now, the doubt has been fully wiped from my mind. There is no ambiguity in my beliefs now. There is no dogma. Everything is distinct.

    Thanks.

    All the best,
    Naomi.

  4. Darryl Sloan says:

    Your welcome, Naomi. Let me tell you, it’s a real joy watching your journey unfold and to see you investigate areas that I haven’t even looked into.

  5. sandy says:

    Hi
    well just to let you know that the Evil exist (Satan) exist and He was very happy when people do not believe that he exist so that he can come around deceiving us without us recognizing that that He is real. In revelation, the great dragon was cast out of heaven will is the devil (was formerly called Lucifer in Heaven) and now he and his demons (the 1/3 of the angels) are present now to deceive us: their main goal is to destroy Humanity….so we got to hold on to what the bible truths.Let us not be deceived by our friends and family but study the word of God itself….

    thanks

    God bless

  6. Darryl Sloan says:

    Hi, Sandy.

    Let me tell you a few things about Satan that you may not know. First, he is almost entirely absent from the Old Testament (along with the doctrine of hell, which is completely absent), mentioned only in 3 books. When Satan is mentioned, his name isn’t Satan. The Hebrew is “ha-satan” (the adversary). It’s a title or office for an unnamed character, not a name. In Old Testament Judaism, there is no concept of God’s arch-nemesis. He didn’t become the Satan that you know today until the idea of the character was developed (i.e. concocted) over time.

    You use the name Lucifer. Are you even aware that Lucifer is simply the name of a non-biblical Roman god, who is not mentioned anywhere in Scripture (unless you refer to a single mis-translation in the KJV)? He is only merged with Satan due to Roman and Christian ideas coming together in the early days of Christianity.

    Do you know any of this, or do you want to continue talking about Satan as if he’s so real that you were speaking to him just last week? Have you any idea how ridiculous you sound when you talk about this hypothetical being in such a familiar way?

  7. Juan says:

    Hello I just have to say I am christian (I am 15 by the way) and i find this to be very interesting. I’ve seen some of your videos about telekinesis like 2-3 years ago and then i stop do to the fact you didn’t have any more videos around that time. Around that time i wasn’t really concerned about religion or my beliefs until later on where i started reading the bible more and becoming more interested on mind over matter, theology, and the brain. Before i say anymore i wanna answer these questions.
    1. As a child I went to church with my grandma every Sunday and so until i moved here to the united states when i was 6 and haven’t gone to church till i was 12 and it was a youth group church with my friends and i started becoming more religious when i was 14. Ill admit it though sometimes i had my doubts on Christianity but i learned from God through signs, friends, and the bible that Christianity is the right religion.
    2. Yeah Christianity i sometimes go to church when i feel that God wants me to go.
    3. I dont really understand the question but my beliefs about Christianity is that is if you believe in Jesus(And when i say believe i mean believe in his word meaning doing good and loving others through action not by simple words) than you will live a good and joyous life. I find this to be true because i live according to what Jesus and his apostles says in the bible about doing good and my life is just simply so awesome. Now theirs other beliefs i have about Christianity but this is just my basic belief. I also do a lot of studying on other religions to see how different they are from Christianity and to prove Christianity is real.
    4.My views on religion is that sometimes it can be evil and sometimes it can be good depending on the person who exercises the religion. My view is also that most people that say they are religious, their really not because they don’t follow what the bible or whatever they use to learn about there religion. Most of my friends that says they are Christians are really not, they are just Luke Christians, people who think their Christians but don’t act like a true one. My views on other religions depends one what their rules are. James 1:27 says Religion that God accepts as pure and without fault is this: Caring for orphans or widows who need help and keeping yourself free from the world’s evil influence. So really as long as the other religions do good i am fine with it like Buddhism.Also notice how it also says keeping yourself free from the world’s evil influence. That right there shows how TV and other wicked stuff controls our minds and if you believe religion does that than im fine with your believe.
    5. I believe the purpose of religion is to teach whats right and wrong and to choose the right thing to do. Most people just think its for worshiping and asking a God or something to gain happiness but no. If you look at most doctrines of each religion it always mentions morals and you have to think about it, back then we really didnt know much about these world and God was our savior by teaching us the right way.
    6. Yes i do believe in heaven and hell and in a way i kinda believe in other stuff that isn’t literally mentioned in the bible but could be. I am 100% sure that after we die our spirit/soul or whatever you wanna call it will go somewhere.
    7. I think the purpose of life is to become the best you could possibly be (while being good) during your lifetime and gain a lot of experience and knowledge about the universe and how it works.
    8.My core of belief would be Love everyone(Corinthians 13:4-7 that kind of love)
    9.Yeah definitely and its basically like yin and yang and i think we could eliminate evil if we teach our kids how to live righteously.

    Now then i don’t really know your entire view on Christianity but i just wanted to say that it isnt really the religion thats evil its just the people that say they are that religion. Im not trying to convert you back or anything i just wanted to post this help your friend and i wanted to see what you’re reply is going to be.

  8. Kalvin says:

    Hi everyone,
    Just wanted to mention something I consider relatively important. The bible was written by man. According to the bible, we have an inherent evil nature, does this make the bible the divine word of god? Or would this indicate that the so-called “word of god” might possibly contain an inherent evil nature(being translated by man and all)? I think we could be a very successful race as soon as we begin to think for ourselves. When you take the word of god for what it is, the word of man, it is easy to see that all you are doing is replacing what you believe to be right and wrong with what a group of men from a long long time ago believe to be right and wrong. I dont know, just wanted to get my voice out there. Have a good day everyone. Don’t let me get under your skin. I speak only the word of man after all.

  9. Darryl Sloan says:

    Hi, Kalvin.

    Very good point, and it’s hard to fault your logic. But, knowing the Christian mindset as well as I do, I can see how they would wriggle out of it (for their own satisfaction, if not for ours) …

    The men who wrote the Bible were touched by the Holy Spirit (whatever that means) to perform this task. They were “special cases,” if you will. Playing the “supernatural” card gets a person out of any predicament.

  10. Thornly says:

    I just bump into your comments on the religious questions while searching for something else. I read them with great concentration and amusement. I was a christian all my life(47 years). I was born into it. It was not until new years eve (2016-2017) that i have questions in my mind about Christianity as a religion and the Bible as God’s word. I wrote down about 18 questions. The questions were triggered by the death of my mother-in-law. She served the Biblical God all her life. She was killed by cancer. She really suffered before she died. My mother is suffering from dementia, but she also served the Biblical God all her life.

    These triggers a step aside to question the path i have been travelling. I am glad i found this space where i can share my thoughts. My work folks won’t accept my views because they are all christians. My church won’t accept my change in religious philosophy. It is that religion focuses the mind too much, if you are in that space, its difficult to see and question the path iam travelling. Its good you realised this earlier. It took me 47 years. I have 18 reasons to back-up why i stepped aside from christianity.

    The comments above were 5 years old (2011). Iam wondering if this comment site is still active.

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