Since the dawn of time, humans must've known that they were special creatures. Just by pure comparison with the surrounding animal reign and regardless of its sometimes overwhelming physical power, the humans must have known that they were superior. The elevated human intelligence out -shadows any other living creature on this planet, but this extraordinary feature doesn't come without its specific problems. High intelligence leads to superior strategy, organization, and understanding of how to use the environment at ones advantage, but in the same time it comes with sentiments like fear, doubt, and a continuous desire to understand the reason to be. Animals can feel and experess fear, joy, failure, happiness, but it is the ability to understand the reason behind that feeling and how to use its results that separates us from the rest.
What Drives Us?
Probably since the beginning of human society one sentiment arose to be the driver of our day-to-day life and that is the desire to succeed - not in a very specific manner - simply to succeed. Success can be defined differently depending on the era in which you lived. Today some might equate success with a good loving family and fortune shown by the size and quality of the home and car. A few hundred years ago, it may have been defined by having the largest plantation, or perhaps the fanciest castle, or the best noble title. Even more in the past it may have been defined by having the ability to hunt the biggest animal and share it with the tribe. One way or another we want success. But we don't want it in a vacuum...
Success and Acknowledgement
With some exceptions, success is almost always measured by people through the acknowledgement of other people. We get diplomas, certificates, things that write black on white that we are good at a, b, and c. We get other people to talk about us, to praise us and recommend us to others. And it all starts from our childhood when most parents try to push us towards success and award us when we achieve it, or punish us when we fail.
Reason for success
If anyone asks you: why do you want to be successful, what would you answer? A few possible answers would be: to feel secure, to provide for my family, to be happy, to make sure my children never have to work, to help those less fortunate, to help the community, etc. All valid answers, but all very down-to-earth. No matter how much you will try to give an answer that goes above and beyond our world, you will not find anything that sounds even remotely genuine.
Need for help from above
The need for success, driven by our desire of acknowledgement and the achievement of our own personal reasons is a VERY POWERFUL DRIVER. Unfortunately, things are not always as easy as we may think. There are some safe paths that we can take, and there are some rocky paths, but the journey is never easy. Whether you are an entrepreneur, a doctor, a professor, cook, scientist, or a home-maker, it's never an easy ride. And that's when we look "up" for help. I think that the need for Divinity is inherent to our species and I believe it helped us go though harsh times. Every time we feel down, the fact that we are able to look up and say "help" is extremely powerful. Who do we ask for help though?
Atheist or Believer?
Many times in the past I told myself I was an atheist. I reasoned that through my scientific eyes and by embracing the concept that science and religion are in fact mutually exclusive. I now realize I couldn't be more wrong. I believe an atheist should be defined as an individual who chooses not to believe in those predefined concepts given to us by the various types of organized religion, but an atheist still believes in his/her own divinity. The concept of divinity need not to even be detailed or described. Yes, most of us think of God as a strange gigantic creature in the sky. Most of the time he looks old and with a big beard. And most of the time he has rules he set for us to obey. If we do obey them, we get into a nice cozy place called Heaven, while if we do not we fall into a dark and burning place called Hell. God has a judgment place where our behavior is analyzed to determine where we will spend the rest of our after-life.
Imagination or Reality
First of all, notice the similarity between this brief description and our day to day life. In the past old men, with long beards represented sage and wisdom. We have tribunals where we judge people for the way they obeyed our human laws. The sky is where we look for serenity with its blue calming shade and fluffy clouds, and we fear the dark depths of the earth with its molten lava. And when furies of nature like tornadoes and lightning strike, we flee and hide away. Do you see the parallel between our existing world and the world presented to us as the after world? And it's not surprising, with our mind we extend our imagination up to the maximum point where it would become too unbelievable, and so it looks a lot like our reality, here on Earth.
Human intelligence comes with a continuous systemic questioning of our world. I believe that it's that feature that helped us evolve and discover the wheel, fire, steel, TV and space flight. But there are some things that we will never fully uncover - the reason for everything. Why is anything here? Little by little we start to understand how we are here. The Hubble telescope already reached the edges of our universe and is able to capture the light of the first stars that exploded in the initial big bang. But why was there a big bang to begin with? And what was there before it? Void? What is void? What was the void standing into? Into nothingness? Can there even be something such as nothingness? Would even the sheer act of defining it defy its actual inexistence? If you keep asking yourself these questions, you will soon lose grip to reality and your brain will lock. So the how and the when are slowly being uncovered by science. But the why... the why will always be a mystery.
And that's when humans are not capable of accepting defeat. We are too infatuated to accept that we will never know, so we must make up a story to make peace in our brains...
Believe without questioning?
They say that faith must be unconditional. You cannot rationalize faith or belief. It must come from within and it should be something that you feel. I agree 100%. I believe that faith is a straight path between one individual and whatever that person chooses to believe in. Therefore, it is completely personal. I, just like many others out there, want to believe. I need to feel that there is something above me that could help me when I need to be helped. But organized religion destroyed that for me. Because it took out the personal feeling and replaced it with rules. I am told when I should pray, how and to whom. I am told to wear a hat or not wear a hat. I am conditioned to picture my deities in a certain manner. I am told that they like certain things while they hate others. Why? How is that faith? Is it my faith, or is it somebody else's faith?
That's why I say: Let me believe in MY God. You don't need to know what it is, and you certainly shouldn't tell me what to pray for and how. And more importantly, please, don't kill me or trash me because I don't believe in what you believe. Your faith is your faith, and whom you pray to is your personal matter. Don't involve me and don't accuse me of being wrong. There is no wrong in religion and faith as long as it is kept as it should be: personal.
Ultimately, what is organized religion today? It's an enterprise, it's a business. And may I say an extremely advantaged business... Paying no taxes, being shielded from law in many instances, and generally not being asked to respond for any of their actions, just because they deal holiness.
Religion is personal and it deals with phenomena and entities that exist just because we believe they exist and we need them to exist. And perhaps they actually do exist, but until we know for sure, keep religion out of the school. Let everyone develop their identity and discover their own God and establish their own faith. Most of us did so along our path, but many have been conditioned since their mind was still weak and prone to influence, to believe that the truth is one and only one.
And who gives us this truth, I ask you? For some reason, every religion in the world today is based on a certain book, or old writings. Somehow it is assumed that a few thousand years ago, people had somehow an open door to the world beyond and were able to document it. And it was in the same times when people were killed for absolutely no reason by the thousands and when the understanding of the intricacies of the universe or the human body were, to say the least, comical. And yet, we believe that somehow they knew the truth. And even more, they witnessed all the miracles that prove their writings. Miracles, mind you, that did not occur in modern history anymore... Why not?
To Rationalize or Not to Rationalize
Yes, I know, once you start asking questions you lose faith. You cannot rationalize faith. But you can certainly rationalize organized religion. Faith in itself, as I said above, is, I believe, healthy for each individual. And for the family as well. But once it became a business, I immediately started to question everything and I urge you to do as well. It's easy to accept everything that you are told, it's convenient. But I don't think it's healthy for your own growth as a person. So, question everything and create your own system of beliefs and values. You will leap ahead of most people and you will be a better believer.
So, I say - Believe. Have faith. Pray if you feel you need help. But pray in your own mind. Pray in your own house. Pray for yourself and pray for others. But don't force me to pray, or join you in your pray.. I will pray when, for whom and for what I need to.