This just starts to outline my in ability to understand organized religion, and just goes to strengthen my feelings about it. Here it is - Religion is just something made-up by humans to allow us to deal with our mortality. No other creature has religion, and we can all agree that there are other highly intelligent creatures out there (dolphins, apes, etc.). But the simple fact remains we are the only species that is able to realize its own mortality. Virtually from birth we know we are going to die (nasty thought I admit) this is where religion comes in. Religion and gods used to be used to explain everything that was unexplainable. As we've grown and gained more knowledge and a better understanding of how things work and interact religion has changed, people no longer accept that there is a god who drives the sun across the sky every day, and so on(that reminds me of a quote. So somewhere along the line some one started telling a story about how special people were because there was this god who created them, blah blah, blah, so in summary when you die you'll get to see mommy again... Religion became the explanation for that one big question. Why are we here?
I believe that Douglas Adams does a great job of explaining it in the "Hitchhikers Trilogy" (he didn't stop at three books, so you shouldn't either read all five). The answer to "life the universe and everything" is as it turns out is "42". None too exciting, as it turns out we really need to know the question for the answer to make any sense, and that is (something in the order of) "How many roads does a man need to walk down". Anyway you get the idea, it's pretty damn arbitrary - so don't go walking down too many roads too young you won't have much purpose once your 30.
There is no heaven, no hell, no purgatory, no karma, no re-incarnation. We're just here cause that's how it worked out, lucky us.
Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Concerns?
These are some entries on a couple of other blogs that deal with the RA's comments mentioned above: