Song: George Michael – Faith.
Weeeeell, how could I resist using this song? Although, actually, George Michael’s got it wrong as well. You haven’t ‘gotta’ have any faith, just like you don’t have to not have any either.
Let me just say right now that I do not like discussing faith. I don’t see the point. I won’t be discussing what I believe because it isn’t relevant on an individual basis. I don’t personally partake in organised religion, nor do I take interest in those that do, because for me faith is an utterly, utterly personal thing that – as long as it is not hurting anyone else (and this is a pretty crucial factor, obviously) – does not need to be justified to anyone.
What I do take issue with is people that believe everyone ‘should’ believe one or the other faith, or that everyone ‘shouldn’t’ believe anything at all. We were having the Richard Dawkins debate the other day. Richard Dawkins calls himself a ‘militant atheist’. I think any kind of belief which has the word ‘militant’ in front of it is probably in need of a bit of a rethink. This blog is not about Richard Dawkins, it is about anyone who feels their views on religion should be impressed upon anyone else.
But Dawkins and friends basically seem to argue that everyone should believe what they believe, because no one can prove any alternative faith.
Yeah, the whole evolution/Big Bang Theory thing is scientifically proven, and actually very few religious people I’ve ever encountered would disbelieve these theories, however that doesn’t stop there being something more as well. Most religious creationism stories are parables, and aren’t supposed to be taken literally anyway, so there should be no problem with religion and science co-existing peacefully. But if you start asking people to prove their religions are right before they’re allowed to believe them, it will sort of miss the point in the word ‘faith’.
If you want to worship cucumbers as the key to eternal life, then go for it! Sales of cucumbers will be on the definite rise, and you’ll never look at a salad in quite the same way again, but as long as you don’t start killing anyone that – like me – finds cucumber tasteless and icky, then who am I to say you aren’t allowed your faith? It might bring you strength in a difficult period of your life, and if it helps your kids get their five a day then that’s no bad thing. As long as you don’t force your kids to keep pet cucumbers, or stop them from socialising with people that don’t eat salad in case the influence rubs off on them, then hooray for the whole cucumber-loving family. Shalom, amen, hallelujah.
Yeah, religion isn’t actually based on any kind of fact. That’s why it’s a faith, and not proven. That’s why there’s more than one. That’s why it’s up to each individual to decide what they believe, it’s not up to Richard Dawkins or anyone else with an elevated sense of self-importance. So if you want to believe in Jesus resurrected, or celebrate Diwali, or not eat pork, then go for it. In fact, if you want to believe in yetis, or white espressos, or that Katie Waissel isn’t the most annoying bint on the planet, then that’s fine with me too. (Actually, except the Katie Waissel one. If you believe that, then I don’t think we can be friends any more.)
It doesn’t mean that if you don’t agree with someone’s faith, they’re automatically thick, mental, or somehow incapable of deciding what they believe, you know, properly. I have friends of all religions, from Sikh to Catholic, from atheist to Jehova’s Witness. I also work with someone who believes in fairies. My drama teacher believed he’d danced with leprechauns. A friend of mine goes to a medium to speak to her dead parents. I don’t believe in any of the above, but I definitely, definitely don’t think those people are of a lesser intellect than me, and I certainly wouldn’t dream of telling them they’re ‘wrong’. How disrespectful – who are they hurting? And besides – what if the fairies come and get me?
But no, apparently to some it’s inconceivable that any otherwise sane person has a faith. Just because someone is religious it doesn’t mean they wonder where the ‘any’ key is on the keyboard when the screen asks them to press it, any more than just because Richard Dawkins is an atheist it doesn’t mean he hasn’t at some point put unleaded in a diesel just like the rest of us. It’s just that one of us believes in some kind of unexplainable, unscientific purpose, and the other doesn’t. (Oh, and one might feel inexplicably bad for the torrent of curses they use when they realise what they’ve just poured into their car.)
I don’t care what Dawkins believes or doesn’t. I don’t care what anyone believes or doesn’t – as long as their belief doesn’t mean others get hurt then you carry on, son. But telling someone what faith they should have is about as reasonable as telling someone what kind of face they should have. Yeah, you could probably change it if you really wanted, but why the hell should you? It would be a whole lot less messy if you just stopped looking at my face, thanks.