i am an infidel

Why is a discussion of religion relevant?

The reason we must speak openly about our religious adherence (or lack thereof) is because it is so often the first line of support for any of our particular attitudes concerning what matters, a chosen segment—chosen deliberately because of our education—of our awareness, itself a result of our location.

identifying what matters to others (and why)

Attentiveness is biased by religion because religion claims to educate the individual—both in how things came to be and also in how the individual ought to behave given this description of reality.  Religion itself is informed by location—both in explanation of spatially different environments and also in response to temporally different circumstances.

When we recognize these factors that influence what we attend to and then how we attend to it, we can begin to comprehend the present-day stances of others—of adherents to those religions not our own—and how they came to have them.  It is important here to note that many of these stances are learned in isolation (it being common to be raised and exposed to a singular belief system, which often utilizes a self-preservative mechanism of positing others as different and dangerous).  It is also important to note that many of these stances are complex and rarely accepted by a consideration of their origins; rather, they are commonly accepted on authority alone and later validated through experience.*

 *This is an interesting mechanism of the mind, called confirmation bias, by which a belief is often only strengthened when it encounters validating circumstances, never minding invalidating circumstances (because we are deft at both ignoring contrary evidence and also at finding exceptions to the contradictions we cannot ignore).

If we fail to trace these stances back through history—if we fail to reconstruct the context of a particular attitude—then the stances often seem absurd, and to posit another’s views, from the start, as absurd is to commit an assault upon them that necessarily puts them on the defensive (a very stubborn status, and one that is unlikely to yield any of the synergistic energies we need for the mutual solutions that we seek when engaging in discussion).

In addition, validating the original reasoning behind a particular stance is important to deconstructing that stance in the present because by identifying the circumstances that make such reasoning substantial, you can—in the safe vacuum of discussion—illustrate the parallel circumstances in the present which make such reasoning unsubstantial (and thereby invalidate the stance).  By presenting information in this manner, the other (the stance holder) is not put on the defensive, but instead is forced to consider a changed environment, to admit new truths that were previously unknown, and to begin an appreciation of your perspective.

what i believe

All religions were designed by men; all are fabrications that have morphed with the fluctuations of public consciousness in order to help us live.  Historical manipulations aside, all have the same goal: to promote awareness of the human condition and attempt to teach us how to navigate this experience with confidence and peace.

By viewing religion in this way, I posit it as merely an institution that informs and guides behavior for the sake of harmony in the community.  My main contention against religion—why I abandoned the one under which I was raised—is because my concept of community is far greater than that of the religion.

The religion has a limited concept of community in part because religions are cultural artifacts.  So, despite no communication and a greatly variant experience, disparate people from all over the world established religions to explain their existence and guide their behavior.  As such local phenomena, they preserve the history of particular peoples and regions.

If my worldview is to embrace the entirety of humanity as my community, I simply cannot adhere to any one religion because to do so would preclude the rest—and all of their cultural baggage—from full appreciation, to do so would impose a hierarchy and otherwise bias my perspective and ruin my attempts at comprehension.  Because of this, I am most comfortable existing outside of religion, viewing it as an institution of lesser communities than that to which I feel a part.

so, what am i?

I am an infidel.

I reject the limitations of cloistered communities.  I reject the notion that any group of people is more special than any other.  I reject all belief systems that perpetuate ignorance.

I accept adherents to any religion so long as their beliefs do not inhibit or encroach upon those things I consider to be human rights.  I accept the practices and traditions of religious adherents that help them cope with the unknown so long as those practices and traditions do not subjugate or marginalize others.

In conclusion, I believe that religions are societal institutions originally formed to explain and navigate the human condition, that they then are subject to the knowledge and circumstance of their origin, and that the consequent teachings serve as an ultimately divisive mechanism in our global community.  By embracing current knowledge and abandoning the illusions of difference among humanity, religions are rendered obsolete; any continual appreciation of religious institutions insidiously divides humanity and encourages simplistic understandings of existence that are ultimately manifest in the mistreatment of others and the complication of human suffering.


what are you?  why?

Thank you for reading.
Thank you for writing.

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