The difference between thinking and believing is that people are willing to kill for their beliefs.That really strikes home for me and heavily influences how I think about things. Really, I don't have any religious beliefs, I just have religious thoughts. Nothing that I say here is guaranteed to be what I think after I post it.
It is more of a "last time I edited this" type of post.
DeityI suppose it makes sense to describe my thoughts in relation to deity or deities. Your first thought may be, "Why did he not use God, god, or gods?" Excellent question. Thinking back to history classes, I have learned from my many great teachers and professors that those who were in charge defined how history was written. In much the same way, the words we use often are affected by those who lead. My thought that the Christian name for their deity is God and that the colloquial term used for any being discussed at such a level is also 'god' is intended as one of two (or possibly both) scenarios. The first that the 'one true God' is reinforced by saying that all other deities described are different interpretations of God. The second that it gives a connotation that they are somehow lesser than God. No matter what, you reference the 'one true'.
Stepping away from that, I think that if there is a 'creator' of our species, that it is of another civilization that had power quite beyond that of our ancestors of 6,000+ years ago thus our perception of deity status.
Furthermore, even if there was a creator and it was scientifically proven to be true or somehow presented in such a way that I found it to be true - I can not worship such a deity. Why in all of the awful, terrible, no good, very bad things that happen on this planet every day would we worship such a deity? They quite clearly do not have the power anyone thinks they have and therefore are not worthy of such worship. We don't expect other creatures to worship us, why should we be expected to do such a thing?
I don't think there is any one creator or creators. I think chemistry or physics happened in pools upon our planet or elsewhere that over billions of years led to our species dominating our planet. Could it have been seeding? Could the universe we perceive have been created within a much larger universe that we can not perceive? Certainly. Why not? Still not worthy of worship.
I am not so thick to think that we could not be created, but I won't pretend that I receive favor over the billions of other presently living humans or other creatures that exist upon this planet. I certainly won't beg for a favor either.
My View of OthersDo I view religion as silly? Kind of, however, I understand that other people do believe and they are more than welcome to believe in such things in my opinion. That being said, the rights of an individual should not infringe upon the rights of another person. My religious right should not be infringed by your religious right. So pestering me to buy into your belief system infringes upon my rights of religious freedom. Much the same if I pestered you to not believe in your religious beliefs.
When Does Your (My) Child Get to Choose?I think my children should have the choice to select their religious preference when they can give me a researched understanding of the major religious orders of this planet and their respective histories. So I am talking Christianity (Catholicism included - I group Orthodox Greek, Catholicism, Protestants, et. al. together), Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and any other 500 million plus strong religious traditions. At that point, I think they will have the background, depth of understanding, and motivation to make a choice.
I suppose I feel that it is a very personal choice to make and that one should not choose lightly. Truly, the vast majority of people believe what they believe because that is what their parents believed and taught them. Personal choice means that you connected in some way with the history, tradition, practice, and teachings. Growing up with it just means that is what you are comfortable with because that is how the world was dictated to you.
My earliest recollection of questioning was the summer between third and fourth grade. We were at the pool as the guests of the family who ran the pool that summer. They were in the Catholic church that we were starting to attend and the priest was there too. At some point during that day, my Dad asked me if I wanted to get baptized. I knew I already had. So, I asked why I would need to be baptized again. What was different about it? Just Catholic vs. Protestant (or whatever it was). I think I grew up with a lot of contradictions in my life and also viewed many actions taken by people that were not good by most folks' standards. As such, I have developed a distrust of people in general, a questioning of what people tell me is true without evidence or reference, and a lack of respect for certain types of authority.
In addition to that experience, there were the classes that educated me on the Catholic faith. One may say that these types of classes help to give a person choice, but really it is about teaching a particular way of thinking of the world. It may or may not be good, but it does not allow someone personal choice. If you only knew of people to walk on concrete surfaces and never was given the opportunity to walk on sand, would you be able to walk on sand? Would you even try?