By Phoenix Xiong
Artwork: Marco Battaglini
What is religion? According to most definitions, it is the belief in and respect for a supernatural power responsible for creating and ruling over the universe. Most religious organizations consist of people who believe everything they are told without question. Ancient texts say many things that are more than likely true, but what many people continue to overlook is the fact that the languages we use today are much different from what our ancestors used. The confusion and misunderstanding of such texts is keeping us all divided.
The positive aspects of religion is that it gives people something to believe in while teaching values such as love, respect, honesty and compassion. However, the negative aspects seem to outweigh the positive because it tends to be judgmental and discriminatory. Religious authorities continue to teach its followers how to live by their god's laws. For example, one could be criticized, ostracized, (and in some cases punished) for consuming certain foods, wearing the wrong kind of clothing, sexual practices/preferences, or fraternizing with individuals outside of their faith. That does not sound like love, respect, honesty and compassion... it sounds more like control and abuse of power.
We must understand what our ancient ancestors were trying to teach us about life and the world we live in.
My understanding of life is that we are all tiny geometries of an immeasurable entity, which most religious people would call 'god', but we also have learning experiences that are our own individual paths to enlightenment.
I do not expect the whole world to understand what I have learned because I have researched several belief systems which tell similar stories but in different ways. Why must we limit ourselves to one source of knowledge? Religion does exactly that; it limits our thinking by imprisoning our minds, which can lead to conflict with those who disagree. The more we question, the more we learn. Ultimately, that is the only way our planet will ever achieve peace. We need to find the correct path to enlightenment, but we must do it together. We must question EVERYTHING.
I was born inquisitive. I have always questioned everything and never trusted one source of information, especially when it comes to religion. As a youth, I once asked my grandmother 'if god created us, then, who created him?' I had several other questions about god, but her answers were always something along the lines of 'you don't question god.' Well, I continued to question everything about 'god', which (according to the Christian bible) has been responsible for more death than life.
I grew up in a Baptist family, which is (at the moment) gradually becoming predominately Jehovah's Witnesses. Honestly, I cannot believe the things they believe and how they all sound like script-following, robotic individuals who have been programmed to recruit more believers. During a conversation about extraterrestrial life, one of my family members hotly debated that we are the only beings in the entire Universe. Being alone in the Universe and NOT being alone in the Universe are equally unnerving, but I know for a fact that we are not alone. Anyone who reads any of the ancient texts with intelligence will conclude that all the beings mentioned as gods were actually human beings; they even mated with us.
If we consider the foolish, and frequently horrific acts committed by religious zealots of our past and present, it would be easier to rid the world of organized religion altogether. When we examine the ridiculousness of the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, and the Salem Witch Hunts (to name a few), we must come to the realization that there is truly something wrong with religion. To this day, there are wars in effect all because of some religious extremist groups.
Who are we fighting for? What are we fighting for? Why are we fighting?
I was taught to believe that god is a loving god, but from what I understand, if you don't submit to 'the man upstairs', you will be severely punished. This is where we have to ask ourselves, who was our ancestors writing about and waging wars in the name of? So, I decided to dig a little deeper.
I began researching more ancient history, mythologies, and the root of all belief systems which is god. After reading the works of Erich von Daniken, Zecharia Sitchin, Dr. Sasha Alex Lessin and passages from the Mahabharata I began to wonder where George Lucas got his ideas for Star Wars. This really turns organized religion on its head because it shows that these so-called 'gods' actually have physical bodies and advanced technology. Descriptions such as 'giant cities in the sky and smaller cities emerging from them and engaging in aerial battles' should be enough to make anyone question what our ancestors were talking about.
However, one of the biggest problems with religion is its own arrogance. Religious fanatics are quite disputatious when it comes to discussing their beliefs. In their own arrogance, they believe that our ancestors knew nothing compared to what we know today. People should carefully examine their beliefs. There is ALWAYS more to the story, including everything I have read.
Optimistically thinking, I believe one day our planet will reach a level of enlightenment that will rule out the divisiveness religions have caused as we discover the truth about our distant past. I'm looking forward to the future as I discover and uncover ancient knowledge.