I’ll preface this by saying I’m an agnostic, but believe that most religions are complete bunk. In other words, I’m open to the idea of the divine, but think most of the existing “theories” on the subject are bullshit.
If you ask me, religions are just convenient, ready-made world-view packages. That, in and of itself, is not a bad thing by any means. After all, the world (and by extension, the universe) is an incredibly complicated place and trying to understand the full complexity of its vastness is not something most minds are equipped for, so it helps to have something to fill out the gaps in understanding. Unfortunately, in our mad lust for knowledge, we’ve resorted to oversimplification and downright fabrication to fulfill our insatiable curiosity.
See, most religions started out small and simple. Some wise words and a few inspirational figures, that sort of thing. Then said figures passed on, and their followers spread the words they spoke. Unfortunately, few people have perfect memory, so all of those things are distorted as they pass form mouth to mouth. The problem is further compounded by the fact that in the past, documentation wasn’t commonplace and what little there was could be lost so very easily, due to one thing or another. And so, this large-scale game of chinese whispers goes on until someone finally decides to gather a full compendium of the teachings. Unfortunately, the task is often far too great for the scope and span of a single man, so there is yet further distortion as there is a great deal of confusion and disagreement on the source material and its intentions. It doesn’t help much that most are inclined to use such an opportunity to drive their own ambitions forward.
So when that holy tome is finally assembled, very little of the source material remains intact and is buried under massive amounts of fluff, which is often extremely self-contradictory and inconsistent. Of course, the authors never include any sort of list of reference (as that would require a tome of its own, and be an impossibility besides), instead opting for something like “these words are directly from (the) god(s)”.
You’ll notice I’ve worked from the standpoint that religions have no divine inspiration. Well, that’s not entirely true, I’ve worked from the standpoint that the people who assembled the teachings had no divine inspiration. Perhaps the original prophets did, but they too were simple mortals in the end, despite what the myths surrounding them say, and had no hand in the final draft. And many along the long line had motives of their own, twisting the words to suit their needs, so there is nothing that can be trusted. And, of course, there is the problem of knowing which inspiration is “divine” and which is “mundane”. Who’s to say the prophet speaks with the voice of the lord? Who’s to say the ones believing him are misguided? Who’s to say the doubters are wrong?
And the troubled conception of a holy tome is not the only problem here. Once it has the book(s) as a focal point, the religion becomes a monolithic institution which seeks to preserve and, usually, spread the teachings at any cost. Unfortunately, we humans can’t be trusted to perform such acts admirably. Those who guard the teachings will find it tempting to put their own spin on it, knowing their words carry much weight, and those who spread the teachings will find it tempting to offer the unbelievers two choices: join or die. And, of course, even the believers themselves cannot maintain only one interpretation of the teachings for long. Eventually, the differences grow too great and a schism occurs, shattering one institution into many, which are rarely amicable towards each other.
It may seem that I’m very opposed to religion. Well, that would mostly be true, but not because I dislike the idea of belief, I simply have a problem with many of the teachings and the institutions that perpetuate them. To put it another way, it’s fine if you believe that some metaphysical being watches over you, but if you believe people of a certain type have no right to live, I hope you won’t have a problem with the next sound you hear being the thump of your severed cranium hitting the floor. Yes, I realize that’s highly hypocritical of me, but I’ve always been a fan of poetic justice.
There’s also the fact that I believe religion no longer serves it’s intended purpose, i.e. to explain the unexplainable. Or, at the very least, better alternatives now exist, with various ideologies and the scientific method gaining popularity. We only cling to our old beliefs because we are taught to do so by the monolithic temples and preachers that still hold sway in many matters they should never even have had influence over to begin with. And, as with any cornered beast, they do their damnedest to regain the upper hand, pressuring their followers to believe harder and shun all who reject their ideas.
So what’s the relevance of this spiel of mine to the bronies’ stance? Well, not much, really, since folks here pretty much said all there is to that. Just thought I’d provide my own musings on the subject, since I’ve done some thinking on it. And hell, I just spent a good couple of hours writing this, might as well post it.
Oh, and the various possibly-existing deities? This here song neatly encapsulates up my views on them.