Thought provoking questions that
we have received, with our responses
This topic continues from the previous essay
Interesting Emails discussed in this essay:
You know that God exists.
Incoming Email: "You know in your heart that God Is. Ask for
his help while there is still time."
Our response: Actually, I am an Agnostic, and thus
have no solid belief or unbelief in a deity. I
have been an Agnostic for over six decades and have invested a great deal
of effort in the study of the "proofs" that others have written about God's existence or non-existence. Perhaps because of my university training in physics, I have never found any of these "proofs" convincing. There are four others in this
group: an Atheist, Christian, Wiccan and Zen Buddhist. Two have no belief in God; one believes in a Trinity; one
believes in a God and a Goddess. All five of us hold these beliefs firmly.
I understand that your personal belief in the Judeo-Christian God is
strong and unshakable. However, please try to understand that there are
citizens in your country who believe in other deities, or in none. The U.S.
is the most religiously diverse country in the world. If you continue to
believe that everyone visualizes a supreme being identical to your own, then
you will have increasing difficulty functioning with the culture's
increasing religious diversity.
God says that abortion is murder, because life
begins at conception.
Incoming Email: "If we use God's standard, life begins at
conception, period. Thus, abortion is murder."
Our response: First, we have to define the key abortion question. I suggest
that it is:
"Under what conditions should the state step in and veto an
abortion decision that a woman has reached, perhaps with the support of her
advisor, family and friends."
Your belief about the start of life is very common and shared by tens of
millions of Americans.
There are a number of problems with it, however:
||There appears to be no way to assess the will of God on theological,
personal, and social matters:
||Even if we could assess the will of the Judeo-Christian God, there is
still the problem that the Trinity is only one deity concept among many
thousands of Gods and Goddesses that humans have worshipped down through
the ages. These deities are mostly silent on abortion; a few give conflicting opinions about abortion access.
It is not clear which one of the thousands of deities, if any, is the "true" God.
Many people believe that their own faith tradition,
whether it is Southern Baptist, Roman Catholic, Humanist, United Church, or
any one of tens of thousands of others, is
the only "true" religion and that their God (and/or Gods, Goddess,
Goddesses) are the only "true" deities. They view as false the other thousands of
religions in the world with their various concepts of deity concepts. Unfortunately, religions of the world teach very different "truths." Thus, as long as the deities remain unapproachable, there will always be major conflicts among different faith traditions over
theological, moral, social, personal and other
Incidentally, the beliefs about one's own faith tradition
being the only "true" religion is precisely the cause of
the past Protestant-Roman Catholic conflict in Northern Ireland, Christian-Muslim
conflict in the Sudan, Bosnia, East Timor, etc, and other inter and
intra-religious disputes. If World War III eventually erupts over
Middle East conflicts, and if terrorism continues at a high level, then the conflict among different faith traditions will be the
In a perfect world either:
||Some deity would exist who establishes open communication with humanity. Everyone would be able to
assess the will of that deity. Then, all religions would teach the same
beliefs and there would be little conflict.
||No deity exists, People
would realize that religions are merely human constructs. They would realize that there is
little reason to die for one's religion or to attack people who follow other religions.
is not a perfect world. Somehow we have to struggle with differences in
beliefs over abortion and hundreds of other topics, and find some sort of
On another matter, you say that God's standard is that "life begins at conception, period." I
would disagree with that point. Spermatozoa are obviously alive for many
conception. An ovum is also obviously alive well before conception.
How can you advertise spell kits on your web site?
Incoming Email: "How can you place such things on a spiritual
site such as SPELL KITS? You will burn in Hell for what you are doing .
It clearly states in the bible who will become a heretic and so teach the
little one -- he is damned and its best that he kills himself before God's
anger gets onto him."
Our response: The short answer is that we don't put these ads on
our web site. What we do is to include banner ads supplied by Google and we have no control over their selection.
This allows anyone to put their ad on our web site and on many other web sites. Somebody, somewhere in the world, decided to sell spell kits. They
decided to place their ad on our web site.
Google reflects the same philosophy as the Internet itself. It allows complete freedom of speech
-- something that we have great respect for. To prohibit spell kits would
be a form of censorship of religious or spiritual activity of which we do
not approve. We disagree with censorship.
We respect your view that God sends the vast majority of the human race
to Hell to be eternally tortured. However, none of the five staff members
in our inter-faith group share your beliefs. We also do not share your
advocacy of suicide for persons who deviate from your religious beliefs.
However, we feel that you should have full freedom to promote your
beliefs. I hope that you will return the favor by giving others the opportunity to promote their
Does religion cause conflict or bring people
Incoming Email: "Does religion cause conflict or bring people
Our response: The short answer, in my opinion, is that It does both.
Organized religion both causes conflicts and adds to social cohesion. This
question has been bugging me for over fifty years now: whether organized
religion, on the whole, has had a positive or negative influence on
||It certainly gives a feeling of security and hope to people; it
inspires people to do good deeds in order to meet what they perceive as God's expectations. Organized religion inspires billions of people to
lead better, more spiritual lives than they would otherwise do. Some of
the world's most highly regarded people were motivated by their
religious faith. Albert Schweitzer and Martin Luther King, Jr. come
immediately to mind.
||However, religion is also a prime cause for pain, inter-personal
strife, assault, murder, mass murder and genocide. We have a section of
our web site which lists some of the genocides
committed in recent centuries. Almost all have a religious
component. We also have essay about why religions can inspire so much evil.
My personal point of view is that there are three ways to increase
religions' positive contributions and to decrease their negative
contributions to society. However, they would all be difficult to
- Religious groups might give greater emphasis to their Ethic of Reciprocity. This is the belief
that people should treat others humanely and decently. In Christianity,
the Ethic is usually referred to as the Golden Rule. Some
faith groups over-emphasize a believer's responsibility to their God and
do not sufficiently stress their responsibility towards fellow humans.
Other religious groups interpret their Ethic of Reciprocity to
apply mainly to the treatment of one's fellow believers. These religions
need to stress decent treatment of all humans, including persons
of other faiths. I hope that, in time, governments and believers will begin to
pressure religious groups to do this.
- Religious groups might allow and even encourage doubt among their
followers. Most of the evils done in the name of religion are linked to
the "tyranny of the absolute" That is, people believing the
absolute, unquestioned and complete truth of their belief systems, and
the absolute error of all other faiths. This will be very difficult for
religions to implement, because faith groups have tended to place great
emphasis on the precision and accuracy of their own beliefs, and thus
the lack of validity of other religions' beliefs. A good place to begin would be for each faith group to teach its adherents the history of its teachings over time.
- Faith groups need to develop techniques that will help them
accommodate more rapid change to their belief systems. Many religious
groups have resisted change in the past, and held back progress. For
example, secular and some religious denominations promoted the abolition
of slavery in the mid 19th century while other
faith groups justified the maintenance of slavery on religious grounds
with quotations from the Bible. Foot dragging
by so many denominations over period of decades caused levels of pain
and misery that are impossible to estimate. Today, some sexist and
homophobic religious groups actively campaign for government legislation
and their own internal regulations that oppress women and members of the LGBT community. Again, this is creating untold
anguish among the victims that they have targeted. All trends seem to be
pointing towards a future society in which there will be "liberty and
justice for all" where "all" refers to persons of all races,
genders, sexual orientations, gender identities, ages, degrees of ability, etc. Religious
groups which resist these trends are causing unjustifiable pain.
Copyright © 2003 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2003-JAN-27
Latest update: 2014-OCT-03
Author: B.A. Robinson