I think it’s important that we all have some sort of belief system in our lives. A moral guide in times where our judgement isn’t all that clear. Belief system(s) as in religion, superstitions, family + cultural traditions, etc.
I personally have always believed in both good and bad karma as well as believed in fate, so I guess if I had to label myself as something it would be as agnostic-but that doesn’t seem to be too accurate.
And it has an impact on the way I behave. I can’t remember a time in my life where I hadn’t tried to give change to a homeless person when I had the opportunity and the means to do so. I’m plagued with the idea that somehow karma is it’s own deity and I earn good karma when I do good deeds and the reverse with bad deeds.
I believe in fate and the idea of crossroads, that we’re fated to make the decisions that we do and ultimately it is our will and our sense of self that predetermines our decisions and therefore our fate. That fate is an entity that can ultimately see our true self and make accurate predictions of our possible choices and the outcomes of such choices. I think of fate as a gardener of a large collection of trees. Each life is a tree and fate prunes off the branches of “what ifs.” At least, that’s the best way I can explain it, my mind is a mess of tangles and I probably will never be able to fully articulate my thoughts on how fate works, at least in my perception of it.
Dan Brown’s latest book Origins which has probably offended quite a number of people for it’s bashing of Catholicism and Christianity has an interesting lesson near the ending of the novel. Aside from the obvious warning against the creation of AIs with the ability to think for itself, the protagonist after contemplating the discovery that disproved most religions’ origin stories-he realizes that a world ruled by just science is cold and heartless. That sure maybe the origin stories of ‘there was nothing and then there was something’ are not too believable, but religion provides an important role in any culture. It mainly acts as a moral guide for most of us.
And, a lot of us are skeptics, that we need cold hard proof to believe in something-but the problem with that is, once you have proof, it isn’t just believing anymore, its also knowing. You might ask, well why is that a problem? Because to take ideas like religion and to believe in them truly and wholly is something much greater-its faith. Faith is not to be taken lightly-it is a powerful motivator and source of wonder. I’m not trying to bash science-because it is a truly wonderful thing that it has done for humanity, it has made our lives easier, we live longer, we are capable of feats we were once unable to accomplish, we can do so many things with science. But they say that part of being human is not only our physical bodies and intellectual minds, but it is also our ability to express emotions. We are compassionate creatures, capable of empathy, happiness, rage, all these different emotions and all that comes with it. But it is our belief systems that direct these emotions. We experience guilt when our belief systems tell us we have done something wrong. We experience rage when our belief systems tell us that its okay to be angry when we have been ‘wronged.’ There are some who claim to be atheist and will ask how it works to be atheist and still have morals, and I would say that their morals would be a result of their experiences and what they have taken from the culture they live in. And, I would also claim that most cultures have a dominant religion that has been accepted. So take what you will from that.
To this day, I wonder how I could have possibly developed such strong feeling on this topic but I must say that not a lot of people have opinions on why we have belief systems-just that we have them and that not everyone has the same one.