That phrase ‘Religion is the opium of the people’ – well, of course, Marx would say that but that doesn’t make it any more than a clever phrase and, at best, a partial truth and what replaced religion in that ‘new social order’ but the Party, the State and the worship or at least the veneration of the leaders. Communism becomes the religion complete with dogma.
Marx didn’t say ‘Spirituality is the opium of the people.’ Perhaps he didn’t recognise that there’s a difference.
Groucho Marx had more to offer the world than Karl Marx.
More truthful, or so I believe, is that biblical idea:
‘For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.’
Strange that, regardless of religious belief or the lack of it, that all recognise the existence of evil. Whether there is an outside force or entity which manifests as Satan or Lucifer or any number of other names – religions don’t start with Judaism or Christianity – is the ‘Step too far’ that atheists won’t take but it is a bit odd that atheists ‘don’t believe in God’ which is itself a belief system. Agnostics, with their idea regarding God as ‘I don’t know,’ appear more honest in their approach.
Where’s the evidence for the existence of God? It’s not a question that I can answer but the fact that the grandchildren are being introduced to a version of Christianity via the Roman Catholic church, the same church in which my childhood was spent, does focus my mind if only because of the dogma involved. Thankfully, my memories of Sunday School are mainly of Jesus being kind, a quality which was in short supply as I recall my childhood. The resurrection wasn’t important to me, the finality of death hadn’t undermined my innocence.
Somehow, even in those desperate dark times through which most of us travel, I didn’t lose my belief that a Universal God exists. Somehow I also understood that free will would prevent continuous intervention by the Divine and that the evil men do is exactly that – ‘the evil that men do.’
So what’s the point? My own life experience shows me that there is indeed more to life than meets the eye, that someone a bit slow like myself needs more than one lifetime to sort the lies from the truth, that intervention does occur although in a subtle way and, at the moment, all I’ve come up with for the grandchildren is a retelling of some half remembered story … but it’s a start.
“Once upon a time in a far away country lived a tribe of people who had heard about a creature called an Elephant but had never seen an Elephant because they were all blind.
Well – you probably already understand that if they were all blind then life must have been very difficult but put that thought aside for the moment because this story is about what happened when they met an Elephant which is, as you know, a very big animal.
One man felt the Elephant’s trunk and said ‘Elephants are giant snakes – feel here, you can tell, it must be so.’
Another felt the Elephant’s foot and said ‘No – you’re wrong. Elephants are like trees – feel how this is wide and round and doesn’t move. It’s just like a tree.’
Another felt the Elephant’s ears and said ‘You’re both wrong – feel here. These are large and floppy just like the leaves on a banana tree. An Elephant must be a gigantic leaf.’
Another felt the Elephant’s tail and said ‘How can you be so silly. Feel here and you can tell that it’s like a piece of rope. Elephants must be made of rope.’
And so they started arguing amongst themselves and got quite angry because each was convinced that he was right.
Of course, we know that all of them were wrong because we’ve seen an Elephant and understand that each blind person just had a little bit of a much bigger picture but they were blind and could not see.
When people talk about God they’re very much like the blind people discussing the nature of the Elephant.
When it comes to religions, of which there are many, there is the same confusion and the same conflict and everyone is convinced that they are right and everybody else is wrong.
If God created the Universe and all that it contains then it doesn’t help matters to call God ‘He or She’ but people do it anyway perhaps because ‘He or She – the Father, the Mother’ make God appear more personal. That may be helpful but it doesn’t make it true.
Can you imagine how big that Person would have to be to create the whole Universe? A beard bigger than a galaxy?
I think that any idea that we have about God is limited and incomplete. ‘God is Love’ is an idea that I can and do embrace and why ‘bad things happen to good people’ is more about man’s use and abuse of ‘free will’ than God’s doing.