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C2V
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16 Dec 2015, 8:45 am

Are you able to appreciate religions that do not apply to you? That you directly oppose? That believe something you believe to be false? That your culture may have been at odds with for hundreds of years or just a few? Are you able to research, listen to/learn about, be exposed to these things with an open mind? Would you be willing or even able to attend their services just to learn without judgement or prejudice about their ways? Are you able to see the beauty of certain aspects of these faiths even though it is not yours? Could you keep yourself out of it?
I considered this after speaking with someone who is a militant anti-Islamist. When I questioned what, exactly, she objected to in Islam, it became very clear she knew nothing about Islam whatsoever. She got all her opinions off biased, sensationalist news channels on television. She never verified nor questioned the validity of the information. Never attended a mosque to see if all this was really correct, never even entered into a religious discussion with a Muslim. She had, on further questioning, never even met a Muslim before in her life, nor had any contact with Islam in any way. All her information was from TV news. And yet, she hates Islam and Muslims with passion, rants about that hatred constantly, to the point where she believes they do not deserve human rights.
Some of her more ignorant claims I was able to refute based on my own admittedly limited understanding of Islam, based mostly off discussions I had with a Muslim woman several years ago. But if I was going to have any hope of stemming hatred, which I find uncomfortable to deal with, and perhaps correct some of this person's misled ideas, I should know more about Islam anyway. So off I went to read the Quran.
That was what surprised me. I found it difficult to read such a heavily religious book. Much of it has (so far) held a similar flavour - language type and stories/characters - as the bible, with which I am more familiar, and reading that makes me uncomfortable too.
I am not Muslim, nor Christian. As I have said elsewhere I was raised strongly antitheist, and am a Buddhist student as an adult (why I don't identify as Buddhist is varied and complex).
The fact that reading the Quran made me uneasy fascinated me, whereas reading (most) Buddhist material feels perfectly normal. Why? Because I don't agree with what I am reading (so far). Don't believe in god, don't believe in divine inspiration, don't believe in prophecy, basically don't believe any of it. What's fascinating to me is that should be irrelevant to me learning about this faith and its cultures. The fact that I don't believe in it should mean nothing. So why the uneasiness? It's ego, and what we all unfortunately run on.
I'm determined to keep reading and maybe learn something, uncomfortable or not, about a faith that I don't adhere to. In a time where religious intolerance is becoming more of an issue, how do you all approach this? Do you approach it, or prefer to stay in your own world where it's comfortable?
Below is an example of something I find very Christian, completely not what I believe, and wonderful.


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neilson_wheels
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16 Dec 2015, 9:02 am

I can respect the rights of others to believe in whatever they fancy. I can't appreciate or really respect ritualistic behaviour personally. There is good and bad in almost every facet of human life.

Was the person you were talking to a follower of a different faith?



Fnord
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16 Dec 2015, 9:42 am

I hate religion; but I'm not an atheist.


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Jacoby
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16 Dec 2015, 9:50 am

People can have their silly superstitions, their rights end where mine begin however. I expect them to be civilized and abide by the laws and customs of our country and culture regardless of what their holy book says, I do not have to respect anyone's beliefs.



Edenthiel
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18 Dec 2015, 12:09 am

C2V wrote:
The fact that reading the Quran made me uneasy fascinated me, whereas reading (most) Buddhist material feels perfectly normal. Why? Because I don't agree with what I am reading (so far). Don't believe in god, don't believe in divine inspiration, don't believe in prophecy, basically don't believe any of it. What's fascinating to me is that should be irrelevant to me learning about this faith and its cultures. The fact that I don't believe in it should mean nothing. So why the uneasiness? It's ego, and what we all unfortunately run on.
I'm determined to keep reading and maybe learn something, uncomfortable or not, about a faith that I don't adhere to. In a time where religious intolerance is becoming more of an issue, how do you all approach this? Do you approach it, or prefer to stay in your own world where it's comfortable?


I've studied religions since I was a child. It fascinated me then how adults could believe things with no proof (I lost the Easter Bunny & Santa rather early). Then it dawned on me as a teen that they did so because they *needed* some sense of hope, the flip side of a coin that has fear on the other. Fear of an world where our amazing human brains can only *sometimes* predict the future, and failing to do so sometimes meant pain or death. Religions provided that hope and protection from fear, along with providing soothing explanations for the missing pieces of how the world works and why. I also learned that in return for that hope, they require allegiance.

In that, all religions are roughly the same, yet there are so many different belief systems! Their answers are different, but they all serve the same human need to feel safe in an unpredictable environment. Our brains crave solved problems. To keep the balance of hope and fear, each religion therefore must provide some aspect of beauty, some positive truths. Those are what I try to glean from each religion or belief system I study. Perhaps part of what makes you uncomfortable is knowing the effect some of the other messages have on people's world view and actions? They require allegiance - sincere, unquestioning belief - and this goes against how our brains actually like to problem solve and predict what will happen next.


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