Gotta Have Faith

by Kyla on February 11, 2013 · 18 comments

This post is in response to an email I received after my last one. It seems that these words from my post about why we stopped trying for another baby struck a chord (words in quote below, post here).

“Because, no matter what the doctors tell you, it all comes down to luck – amazing isn’t it, science can create life but they can’t force it to stick around.

Luck, it’s a big slap in the face to a person without faith.”

The email questioned how I could have no faith when it was obvious that science needs god to create a real life. It also insinuated that perhaps I wasn’t yet pregnant because I haven’t repented, believed and prayed enough.

Right there folks is some of why I, on occasion, intensely dislike religion, the fanaticism and inability to accept other points of view because of your deeply held beliefs, the ability to hurt others while feeling smug and righteous is, in my experience, a symptom of the disease that is organised religion. It never ceases to amaze me how educated people can use religion as an excuse to belittle others, to hurt and malign others just because they don’t subscribe to the same belief system and frankly folks it’s as bad as racism, worse because it’s not the colour of the skin that leads you to think you’re better than someone but the belief in a code that tells you that you are in the right and everyone else is in the wrong. There’s something terribly sad about that, that words written thousands of years ago and twisted in each retelling lead you to think that anyone who does not subscribe to the same belief system is wrong and somehow less than you.

I’m not ignorant about religion, my best friend in primary school was Coptic Orthodox, my best friend through the first few years of high school (well, until her parents found out) was a Jehovah’s Witness, my dad is a lapsed Catholic and my grandmother still staunchly so and from that generation where an extramarital affair or two was ok as long as you confessed, said your Hail Mary’s and repented. I went to a Catholic school, a progressive one at that, one that taught about other religions in Social Studies and totally contradicted themselves by trying to keep you indoctrinated via compulsory Religious Education classes – taught, amusingly, by an almost-priest who left the seminary to get married. I got kicked out of those classes regularly for asking why and seeking clarification to statements that made no sense – the answer to any question of life should never be “because god said so”.

Now religion is an emotive subject, I have nothing against organised religion in others until they start shoving it down my throat. I respect your need to have a god, and admire your faith, there are some simply beautiful ethical and moral stories in each of the religions and I admire the core ideals of most religions, the majority are common sense moral and ethical rules that teach you how to be a good human being. But you don’t need religion for that. Good parenting can do that.

Throughout history wars have been fought over who believes what, yet, when you take away all of the flowery writing and leave behind the ethical and moral story, religion, across the world is so very much the same, ever so much more than it is different.

Ankh taken at Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, Luxor, Egypt 2009Faith, now faith is a different issue entirely to religion. I know I tend to say that I don’t have faith because it is not easy to quantify what I believe, and to say I don’t have faith I am simply saying that I am not religious. I am an atheist in that I believe there is no deity, no god or goddess out there guiding or smiting the life on this earth but I do believe in a universal energy that connects all beings. Something that science backs to an extent.

I can never explain this half as well as Professor Brian Cox who not only makes me giggle because of his name (yes, I’m a child) but also because every time I see him being all super smart I can’t help but think of him back when he was in D:Ream and “Things Can Only Get Better” plays in my head even as he is describing how the universe is dying through a process of ever more disorganised, scattered energy. [On a side note, read the book or watch his series “Wonders of Life”, he explains my belief on connection through energy better than I ever could].

Faith, yes I have faith, I have faith in science, faith in a universal energy that connects us but I choose not to use the word faith because it is all too easily encompassed by religion and religious I am not.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Lyndal February 12, 2013 at 12:06 pm

whilst I have dabbled in religion (and promptly left due to politics etc) my partner is very passionate about not being involved – for some of these exact reasons. I’m sorry that you received such a hurtful email, and distressed that someone felt it within their ‘rights’ to be so thoughtless and careless with their words using religion to justify their words xx
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Kyla February 17, 2013 at 11:43 pm

Thanks Lyndal, I totally get religion and think some people can have a beautiful relationship with it but it’s not for me – I’ve seen some real nastiness disguised or excused by it, I get your partner’s viewpoint.

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Aroha @ Colours of Sunset February 12, 2013 at 12:36 pm

I’m with you – I have faith in a lot of things – myself, for starters. I have faith in the universe. I have faith in other people. For a brief period I had faith in God. I still sometimes wonder. But I seriously question people who think it’s ok to send emails like this. I question people who hide behind their religion, “the bible” and use it as an excuse for hatred and bigotry. I thought Jesus taught compassion? Love? above all else? Certainly doesn’t show compassion to pass judgment on others. Lots of hugs Kyla. xo Aroha #teamIBOT
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Kyla February 17, 2013 at 11:50 pm

Faith in and of itself is good and I think that things like praying are actually good – we know positive thinking and affirmations can have a positive effect but yeah this hiding behind a book (that’s not always the bible) as an excuse to foster hate… not cool.

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Zanni, Heart Mama February 12, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Yes, faith doesn’t have to be religious. I have faith in lots of things to, but not in a god as such. I went to an Anglican school, and believed strongly for a while, but things changed. I respect people and their religions. If it makes you a better person and makes you happier than that’s great. If it makes you angry and hateful, then I don’t think it’s a great thing at all. What a shock that must have been, receiving that email. But I guess that is half the fun of blogging. I am always surprised how UN-contentious readers and commenters usually are! x
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Kyla February 17, 2013 at 11:56 pm

Yeah it was shocking, mostly to get it as an email, a hidden dig instead of an open one. I don’t mind differing opinions, it’is ok to be different – that’s what makes the world interesting and open dialogue on my (lack of) faith would have been fine. The email was not so fine :/

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carmen February 12, 2013 at 5:47 pm

As a mother of a child diagnosed with a terminal illness and being raised without a direction in religion, I found that my faith in our health system took a plummeting dive on every level. The more we progressed, the more I saw how fallible and random it was. Everything was very much based on luck in our situation. The faith I found, however, was my own. Faith in my decisions, my unconditional love for my child and to face those who attacked me for my stand and to find the strength to do something different instead of nothing at all. Whatever you find faith in. Keep hold of it tightly. xxx
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Kyla February 18, 2013 at 12:27 am

Oh Carmen, thank you. I’m sorry you were failed by our health system and was attacked by those who couldn’t possibly understand what it is to stand in your shoes. Sometimes people really suck.

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Emily @ Have a laugh on me February 12, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Kyla I have to say that I’m also a child of the universe. I really hate that you have had to feel this way because someone wanted to push their beliefs on you. I think we all do the best we can and get by however we can, but when someone tries to console me by saying that it was ‘his time’ or ‘god’s plan’ for my 24-year-old ex, who was studying medicine and died in a tragic yachting accident then I gotta say – NUP – it wasn’t his time.
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Kyla February 18, 2013 at 12:22 am

I think some of the annoying consolation is just people hearing shitty news and not knowing how to react, it’s the verbal equivalent of a pat on the hand, something to make them feel better and get them out of a tangle. I’ve said it before, I know, but that sucks hon, it wasn’t his time, it wasn’t god’s plan or any of those annoying platitudes but it does just plain suck.

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workingwomenaus February 12, 2013 at 8:43 pm

I left a life of very strict catholicism the moment I left home. I have faith, but I don’t know that I believe in god. My mother passed away when I was 6 and a kaleidoscope of events left me feeling disenchanted that God would allow this to happen. Yes, even at 6.

I’m so sorry you received that x
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Kyla February 18, 2013 at 12:17 am

I think that’s a common thread in people who are disenchanted – the thought that if good is good, all watchful, all powerful, how can he let such pain and suffering be on this earth. Faith is good, belief in god is I guess something only you can come to terms with. I’m sorry you had to lose someone so vital to you so early.

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Cathy February 13, 2013 at 9:07 am

I consider myself deeply religious but don’t often talk about it on my blog – because to me it is a very personal thing. Funny that I say that when my IBOT post this week was about Shrove Tuesday and Lent! I believe in God but I believe in a being that is compassionate and not judgemental and the thing I took away from my religious education was that it’s okay to question religion because that is part of learning and growing. What I’m trying to say is that not every person who has religious faith is like the person who wrote that email. People like that really annoy me because it gives everyone who believes a bad name. I don’t know the background to your story but I do know that the reason you’re not pregnant has NOTHING to do with not praying enough or repenting enough or whatever that person said. Fanatical zealots in any religion should be seen as the extreme and not the norm, for as you point out, most or all religions have as their core, love and compassion. xx
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Kyla February 18, 2013 at 12:10 am

Thanks Cathy, I believe there is a lot of good in religion. It’s not for me but there’s nothing wrong with it being for someone else. I really struggled writing here to try and explain while still being fair to religion – there is much good, and some bad in anything and yes fanatics and zealots are not the norm luckily.

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Rita February 13, 2013 at 2:48 pm

I’m so sorry you receive such email. I do agree with you that religion and faith are two different things. I need the religion in my life. But I don’t think God has anything to do with the issues I face. Yes, I can pray and ask for some things, ask for some comfort but if I don’t receive them, God has nothing to do with it. You know that we are trying to have a child. Why I’m not pregnant? Is it because I have not prayed enough? Of course not. I’m not pregnant for a reason that has nothing to do with God. It’s because the timing was not right or any other reason. I agree with Cathy, God is compassionate. It annoys me when people use God to justify the hatred they have inside them.
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Kyla February 18, 2013 at 12:14 am

Thank you for your understanding Rita, I think it is good for those that get something good from religion to have it in their lives, there’s no denying that for people the world over the religion they are part of is a community builder, support and love to them. Many good things can come from positive communities and good people, religious or not are good people inside.

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Becc February 14, 2013 at 9:01 am

I am with you and agree pretty much with what you had to say. I will honestly never understand someone that stands behind religion as a means to be hurtful and judgemental to others. It just goes against the basics as you mentioned.
Becc @ Take Charge Now
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Kyla February 18, 2013 at 12:04 am

I think, at the heart of it. Good people are good and those who are not will always find an excuse. I think that any community can embrace hatred – religion isn’t the only powder keg but there’s a lot of religion and a lot of zealots, fanatics and that makes it easier to whip up bad energy.

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