MARK L. BAKKE'S
Night Owl Mk. II




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RELIGION




First off, I should say that I subscribe to none of Man's organized religions, nor do I believe in any of the Gods that Man has invented for himself. Therefore, I feel that I'm able to look at the subject of religion from an unbiased and objective point-of-view.
    It would seem fairly obvious that the statement "Man created God in his own image and likeness" is quite correct. None of the Gods that Man has worshipped throughout recorded history are completely unlike him or the society that reveres them. No historical society that has died out has had its Gods survive them. No disconnected societies have evolved beliefs in the same Gods with the same stories surrounding them. None of this would seem likely to have occurred if there was truly one all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful entity that was responsible for the existence of life, the Universe, and everything.
    Organized religion seems more interested in controlling the lives of those who follow it than in anything else. All religions have rules for how you should live your life and few have much, if any, tolerance for anything outside of those rules. They also rely on the power of fear and blind faith to keep the flock in order. In this respect, organized religion is little different from political dictatorship.
    Religion's main purpose seems to be to give people something upon which to base their opinions when they don't have (or don't care about) the facts. Defending one's opinion with "God said it. I believe it. That settles it." is considered a conclusive argument by far too many people. Of course, if they had to back away from what their religion tells them to believe about one issue, they might just have to reexamine their views on other issues, as well. The result might be that they may have to question the religion upon which those views have been based. That prospect is very unsettling to some people. They seem to find it easier to blindly spout the "party line", as it were, than to form opinions that might need to be based on a bit of study or logic.
    When I find myself involved in a discussion with someone who continually prefaces his arguments with "The Bible says...", I tell him that I'm not a Christian and I don't believe that his Bible is the ultimate authority. I tell him that if he wants me to believe his argument, he will have to leave the Bible out of it and stick to the facts. I ask him to demonstrate how his Bible and his Gods are superior to the Gods and the holy books of any other religion and why I should accept his views rather than theirs, or, indeed, the views of those who subscribe to no religion at all. I have yet to find a case where that individual can continue to present his argument successfully. If his argument had any validity in the first place, that would not happen.
    Things are true or false, right or wrong, moral or immoral on their own merits. Religious arguments can contribute to a discussion on such issues, but are not, by any means, the sole determining factor in the outcome. Religions are at their best when they provide believers with a set of guidelines under which they can live happy lives in harmony with their fellow Man. They are at their worst when they seek to become the entirety of one's life - or to force themselves upon others.


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