If he does exist... what's his agenda? Why create us in the first place? Are we an experiment for him? Some weird play thing? If he sees us all as his children, and cares about us... why doesn't he intervene and help us?
In the end, we're basically left with what he's apparently trying to tell us... through his teachings and scriptures - which, may I point out, humans have written themselves in what we like to call religion.
I think something people get overly carried away with though is a literal interpretation of these words of God, these religious scriptures. Whether or not they were actually God's/the Gods' own words, or whether they were created by humans, I think they were said to try and create some sort of order in the world. Back a few thousand years ago when all people had was an instinct to survive, tempered solely by the love and care of mother and family; emotions required, probably even created as an evolutionary response over the years to raise such resource intensive, demanding children, religion may have been required to form societies. Some sort of belief system which established basic moral principles is probably what allowed us to form such large, complex, interconnected social groups whilst still maintaining a sense of individuality.
Years ago, religion and its scriptures were the dominating way in which order was achieved in society. And it worked. For centuries. Using the primal instincts of fear, the instilled order and values into humanity. Sin, break one of the ten commandments, commit adultery, or eat the meat of a cow and you shall be punished with eternal damnation, stoning unto death or with misfortune later in life; the concept we know as karma.
But many argue that today, we don't need it. With judicial systems in place, at least a general concept of what is right and wrong being displayed by most individuals, and with concepts of human rights, freedoms and values becoming widely accepted, religion could be viewed as obsolete. And many are coming around to that way of thinking. The rapid growth of atheism and agnosticism over the years is evidence of that.
But it's when the words from scripture are taken literally and used or twisted to obstruct the freedoms of others, to acquire financial or political power or to incite violence against others... that it's wrong. We see it happening throughout history, and it continues to this day, from the harsh right-wing religious based fundamentalism leading to oppression and terrorism the world over, to the 70 odd year siege of a nation of people justified by having had that land proclaimed theirs in religious texts written thousands of years ago.
But that issue is not what I'm focussing on here.
What if I told you those scriptures, the stories, the traditions, the restrictions were supposed to be metaphors. That religion was a tool used to educate and teach people back in the days where knowledge of how the world worked and why we should be good, kind people wasn't as prevalent and easily accessible as it is today.
They say it, sometimes plain as day, but what if the stories, the examples they gave had deeper meanings than just strict rules to adhere by or things to do to live forever? What if the Gods were just telling us to be good?
Well, all the major religions do just that.
So are the rituals, the mantras, the celebrations and this focus on the literal interpretation of God's words bad? No, not necessarily. They give those who don't know better, or those unable or unwilling to read the texts critically, direction, some purpose in life. They instil unto us a sense of discipline.
So am I religious? Well, by the definition I gave above, I must be. I know many choose to lean on the concept of a God, or a supreme being looking over them for a sense of comfort, to give them assurance in hard times and purpose in life. Me, after everything I've been through, lots of thinking about death and what our purpose is, I've come to believe in myself. When it comes to religion though, I choose instead to focus on trying to be the perfect man he wants me to be, by doing what I reckon he's trying to teach me. I don't do it to please him or because I believe I should do it to be religious... but rather because helping others, putting a smile on someone's face and making the world a better place is simply the best, most rewarding thing you can do in life. It's the best way of staying happy. Unlike any other form of happiness; money, fame, power, women (or men, whatever floats your boat), that smile, that feeling of making someone's life easier or better can never be taken away from you; it will never seem a hollow, or meaningless both in life and when you're on your deathbed. Hell, if all we are is just a bunch of chemicals interacting with each-other in a series of odd arrangements, and there is no god or purpose in life... we, as humans, who are doomed to have minds that think too much; too deeply, have to make it all seem worthwhile by giving ourselves some sense of purpose. If we're here, and then we're gone, that purpose may just be to live life doing anything to be as happy as possible. But what better, more sustainable way of getting that dopamine flowing is there than helping others?
Instead of believing that doing good will lead me to Heaven, I choose to try and make the world we live in a Heaven... not just for me, my family or my country, but for the 7billion + people who live on it... or failing that, as much of it as I can.
The only way I can't be happy in life is if all my efforts seem fruitless... If all my efforts are not accomplishing anything, or not helping enough people. And despite the happiness I've brought many so far through my writing, speaking and actions, sometimes it does seem I haven't made much of a difference... that my efforts are fruitless... that there's no real reason to live.
God (or whatever) Bless.