As a child I was gently indoctrinated, along with just about everybody else in my class, into the ways of our Lord. From a very early age it was put to me that there was, nonspecifically out 'there,' a far greater and more powerful Being and that, intrinsic to this contention, there was a tome of knowledge, also non-specifically, far beyond anything that I could ever hope to amass. Thus, I was introduced to the concept of 'faith.' We sang a lot, which didn't leave a great deal of time for questions.
Where would such a Being reside? Heaven, where's that then? How could such a Being know what everyone was doing? What about those people who were working deep underground? How could such a Being know what we were all thinking? At the same time? What about dreams? How would such a Being be able to 'hear' all of our prayers? How would such a Being prioritise? If someone said 'good' things, but secretly thought 'bad' things, how would such a Being know this? What if we believed the 'bad' things, because a cleverer person had misled us? How would such a Being be able to tell the difference? If someone made a very 'bad' choice, hurting or killing others, why would such a Being not intervene? Why would such a Being allow natural disasters to kill and hurt people and other creatures?
Our's was never to reason why, apparently. We just weren't knowledgeable enough to understand the overriding will of such a Being. Although, some of us, even at such a tender and an early age, were starting to draw our own conclusions about this 'greater' Being. 'Faith' we were reminded- my teachers reminded me, my mother reminded me, the church reminded me, and numerous other people reminded me- was our lot. Faith!
Now that I am older I know enough to know that I am differently unsure. Older and slightly more jaded, I am arrogant enough to believe that I know the answers to some of the above questions. Now, I have different questions... requiring different answers, which necessarily do not pertain to faith.
Accepting, just for the sake of argument, that I am not going to be able to directly put my questions to such a Being, I would like instead to be able- safely!- to ask these questions of those who are most 'certain' of the 'answers'... the fundamentalists.
The fundamentalists have, of course, weaponised 'faith,' effectively remodelling it as fear! Naturally, honing the doctrine to a fine point- fear is often anyway still not enough- the fundamentalists might well kill us regardless; they might detonate shrapnel amongst our children, or they might career their vehicle along a busy pavement, or they might simply refuse to reason, sheltering behind the trusty (rusty) shield of faith, a highly selective shield when it comes to bombs and bullets. Our bombs and bullets, those of reason, are, we are 'assured,' far more discerning than are 'their' bombs and bullets, the old 'benign collateral' (cite "friendly fire") versus 'indiscriminate terrorism' argument! Proudly wear your faith, wear it much like a pair of spangled blinkers, wear it like a mask!
My opening question to the Being's spokesperson upon this Earth would have to be, why it is that our imperfect minds have been equipped with nothing better than faith with which to navigate our route through (theological) life? Why then equip us with the means with which to question 'His'* existence? So, of those various humanly-scribed books, which tome was actually the first draft, and which should we take to be the 'finished' (polished?) article? Presumptuous on my part, maybe, but I'm going to suggest that just a smidgen of greater clarification might not go a miss. Are we perhaps long-overdue a further redraft?
And then on to the sensitive subject of personal armaments, about these cursed hand-guns and rifles for example- those which have often been employed in His name- shouldn't we perhaps keep them locked well away from the cerebrally inept? We have, I am hoping, now evolved well beyond the belief that sinking a flaming cross into the earth, and wandering around in pointy white hats, weapons loaded, may be a superior or purer means of somehow 'ordering' humankind, along the lines of some sort of human-paint-chart? Couldn't we just hammer home this point, once more for the hard-of-understanding?
My is it third?- and certainly it is the most delicate of questions to the Being's spokesperson on this Earth- relates to the female gender of our species. I am, of course, assuming that this set of rules isn't perhaps an earlier and some-since-time superseded draft of His 'correct' Holy Book. Why, I feel obligated to ask, is having been genitally mutilated considered to be the 'correct' physical state for any female?- or, especially, any innocent child? And, in anticipation of any response, I would like to question 'why said 'clitoris' was there in the first place?' Further, I would like to ask 'if this means that He has therefore made a fundamental error?' Furthermore, is it not cruel to have designed 'us' for pleasure, only to have then prescribed the removal of one highly significant means by which this might be achieved? Is He then not in some major capacity also flawed? Is it really the role of certain significantly flawed and immeasurably-lesser beings to 'improve' upon His efforts?' Page numbers for reference, please?
Here on Earth, I think that it would be only reasonable to assume that I argue for the vast majority of humans when I seek to question the butchering that is done in seeking to (shall we refer to it as?) modify the human form. Are these 'people'- the butchers- not defacing His work? Can we not instead modify the butchers?- if only to remove from them their more dubious of powers?
And, quite why would He create someone so very beautiful, only to condemn that same someone to a lifetime of conducting 'life' from within a black box, a niqab or, even more condemnatory, a burka? Really?- so, it's entirely about modesty, is it? Does this mean then that the man in this 'relationship' is acting immodestly? So the woman is actually a possession, is she? And the covering of the hair thing?- perhaps then You might have considered a less hairy model? I presume then that the role of the more hirsute male requires entirely less modesty?
And stoning? What, even if the male perpetrator- cases of rape, for example- is permitted to watch on, whilst the female victim is being pounded into the earth? Is he, the perpetrator, also then permitted to throw rocks? And, what is it supposed that the perpetrator is actually 'punishing,' should he deign to partake? Will the mighty Being judge him at some later date? Pages? ** And- fourth now is it?- this racial difference thing? Perhaps I'm being just a bit thick here, a bit humanly flawed, as 'twere, but it really doesn't feel in any way superior, being white. On a handful of occasions I've been given due cause to think that being white is, if anything, rather inferior. White pointy hats and burning crosses, what was all that about? Demonstrating superiority, how? Do those with the loudest shouty voices also possess faith? Or has some form of enraged-entitlement here substituted? Any sort of hierarchy seems questionable, colour or otherwise... that is, unless we should regard those who follow this path as immensely inferior? You know what, might we just have stumbled onto something here?
Surely I cannot be alone in thinking that we here upon this Earth are well overdue a smidgen of enlightenment on the mega-touchy subject of "racial superiority?" The 'ride' thus far has not been a wholly tranquil one! The merest concept of 'superiority' is never going to sit comfortably, alongside any culture that it is looking to 'order,' or that might be hoping for order alongside reasonable law.
Thus, cannot we all hunker down to a spot of disentanglement, for example where Semitism and Zionism are concerned? A 'few' of the more confident readers are becoming a tad alarmed at the tanglement-by-design of terms like anti-Semitism and anti-Zionist, media-orchestrated-and-fuelled and further fanned by the thoroughly-disingenuous. Semite, pertaining to a group of Semitic languages, spoken by, amongst others, both Israelis (Hebrew) and many Arabs (Arabic), am I right in believing this to be so? Would that then- although somewhat veiled through this ever-curious twisting of reality- seem to imply that the Zionists are amongst the more anti-Semitic of peoples?
My next question would be, in the event of a human detonation, or vehicular mayhem, who gets to decide who might live and who might die? Well then, who in His stead might decide? Okay, so does this not mean that His human spokesperson is destroying and/or defacing the Supreme Being's work? And, if your response to this is that the Divine Being then intervenes to decide who does and does not survive any such act, why then are not all of the perpetrators also subject to such a brutal 'selection' process? Might I be so bold as to suggest that He perhaps endeavours to ensure that the ultimate-decision-makers- those who might plot or otherwise bring about such awful destruction- are always, from this point onwards, to be situated far closer to the consequences of their decisions, especially as they profess to be following His imperfect plan? Under these circumstances, would they 'smile' quite so confidently for that flash?
And, this mention here, just here, about the taking of a single life destroying a whole universe? I think the wording is "... if anyone slew a person- unless it be for murder or spreading mischief in the land- it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people." (Al Quran 5:32) How should we regard this wisdom, as an earlier note... or better, as the perfected amendment? Shouldn't we clarify this issue, specifically for those who possess the wrong kind of faith? And, with much haste!
And, this far too non-specific, "spreading mischief in the land"?- who gets to decide which is 'mischief' and which is 'government?' And, where the two transpire to be one and the same?
Pertinent to an earlier question, am I to assume then that the detonator, or driver, or knife-wielder, the 'religious' killer, is going to be repaired in Heaven? And, will his, or rarely her, 'repaired' mind still be 'functioning' along similar lines? How many virgins is that? What, virgins with or without fully functional genitalia? Anticipating the masculinity of His response, can I then ask- refraining from employing the 'r' word- what sort of congress is this likely to be? Is this then going to be a different sort of Heaven for all of those virgins who will be on the receiving end? References again, please?
Presuming then that His loyal foot soldier's thought-process is to remain fundamentally unchanged, will (s)he be required to continue to detonate, or stab, or run-down other inhabitants within this Heaven? What, so sort of like a one-transaction contract, specifically undertaken prior to 'joining' the 'anointed,' then? And, 'this' type of 'suicide' will be afforded a 'get-out-of-jail-free card,' will it?
Will there be many (for the sake of argument, shall we refer to them as) mass murderers in Heaven? How will other, non-violent, arrivals be expected to relate to these murderers? Will there be time, do you suppose, for the inhabitants of this Heaven to converse calmly about the 'good' old days? If so, is there a 'correct' and politer etiquette for referring to the shattered remains of murdered children? Is there one which permits the murderer not to feel somehow excluded from politer circles as they well might down here?- or otherwise deeply and irretrievably ashamed? So, will these mass murderers now be able to laugh and to joke and to somehow to 'live' (on) with themselves? What, no remorse?None whatsoever? Again, can I request specific page numbers?
And, what if killer A is 'right', for want of a better, far better word, to have murdered' those in group A, whilst killer B is wrong to have murdered those in group B? Will killer B be judged to have sinned for adhering to the wrong type of faith? What, even if the ritual slaughter was carried out in 'good' faith?
Can I also ask, is life here on Earth really supposed to be quite so Hellish and devoid of compassion? Does that not then make Him a vindictive Being?
And dare I ask, just for the sake of argument, should we be preparing ourselves for the event that His idea of Heaven might actually transpire to be our idea of Hell?- and that He might transpire to be some sort of monster?
If we are not to question these things then why would He give us the minds with which to do so? Unless this also is another design flaw. Or is it yet another test... of our faith?
We are finding that neighbourly respect and affection- at least whilst we are trapped here upon His Earth- offers a mighty antidote to much of His more curious will. Often, this might even happen to transcend faith. Even so, might I not harbour just that tiny kernel of contempt for the religious fundamentalists?
Finally, would it be in any way unreasonable to conclude that, if one could reason with religious people that there would be no religious people? Do any of these thoughts make me a sinner?
* Apologies for the gender allocation. In modest justification of my choice, I chose to affix a male label over a female one because I considered that the faults of any such being- pain, war, 'torture,' conflict, that sort of thing- were more likely to sit 'comfortably' within the remit of a male creature.
** And, this would have to be the moment, the moment, at which we- that is 'we' unbelievers- may be as certain as it is possible to be, that certain 'individuals' are far more inclined towards faith and religion because it is entirely the means by which they seek to consolidate their advantages over others, than because they are inclined to believe in anything other than their own advantage. Otherwise, why would they lay themselves open to such disappointment in the 'eyes' of their 'God?'