Past Opinion, Edition 65-April 1, 2010
Editon 65-April 1, 2010
Arrogance and the existence of God
Pope Benedict XVI displays unholy behavior
By Thomas Terrio

Arrogance is something distasteful to many, but when Pope Benedict XVI recently smacked the hand of a journalist and then scolded him for asking a direct question about the recent allegations of sexual abuse against priests plaguing the Catholic Church this past Holy Week, I thought it to be the supreme example of condescension.

In my view, the Pope should humble himself at all times when in public. Indeed, this act clearly showed the impious, arrogant, and abusive attitude of the supreme leader of the Catholic Church, who benefits from the belief among Catholics he is the Word of God on this Earth.

Pope Benedict XVI is not the only religious leader lacking in self-respect. Religious leaders historically are seen to be connected to scandal in some fashion or another. Jim Jones, Jimmy Swaggart, the Ayatollah Khomeini or Warren Jeffs, all leave a lasting negative affect on religious belief in general.

The Muslim and Christian faiths both affirm to be the divine providence of God. But does an omniscient, omnibenevolent, and omnipotent God exist? And which religion holds the true path to God? Furthermore, does a true path to God even exist to begin with?

Unfortunately, since the beginning of mankind’s founding of religion, much pain, suffering and death has been propagated in the name of God. Today, the suffering continues with Muslim extremists leading the way, by subjugating women, practicing jihad, and participating in a global terror network based on converting the world to Islam. Muslim extremists believe Mohammed is the sole prophet of God, with every non-Muslim considered an infidel or non-believer. In my view, if you’re going to fight for something, don’t do it in the name of God, do it in the name of reason.

While the Catholic Church put the fear of God into its followers claiming to know all things about heaven, hell, and what would happen to a sinner’s soul; this same church damned and condemned Galileo in 1616 for claiming the sun was the center of the known universe. It wasn’t until 1996 when the Catholic church under the leadership of His Holiness John Paul II recognized Galileo was right, the Earth is not the center of the known universe.

In my view, when one places their faith in religion, they are handing over their personal freedom to the manipulative whims of a priest, rabbi, or mullah’s interpretation of how one should live their life. Respect for human rights has been lost in today’s society because of religion. Religion separates people and creates cleavages in culture and traditon, it does not unite them.

Most certainly, the Christian church is based on the life of Jesus, but Jesus did not start the Christian church, it was Simon Peter BCE - AD 67, the first pope. I believe Jesus was a great prophet like Mohammed and Buddha, but I don’t believe Jesus was the direct descendant of God the Almighty, nor do I believe Mohammed is the only true prophet. In my view, when Jesus said he was the son of God, he was not speaking in the first person but the plural—meaning therefore, we are all children of God.

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Christian cathedrals are filled with towering icons representing Jesus, Mary, and the saints, with the intention of creating an image of an ever-present Holy existence in the follower's mind. Heraclitus, a great Greek philosopher circa 500 BCE once said, and I paraphrase: Praying to religious icons is like conversing with a house, while the owner is away. Plato 429-347 BCE placed religious dogma in a difficult position when he asked a very simple question with respect to what is right or wrong according to the gods. He asked, “Do the gods command it, because it is good? Or is it good, because the gods command it?”

This profound statement placed in motion a philosophical interpretation that still remains unanswered today. My question is: as a species, can we accept our moral and ethical obligations with responsibility, accountability, and respect towards one another; to decide without judgment based on race, religion, or sexual preference; to know the difference between what is right and what is wrong for humanity without the need for priests, rabbis, or mullahs, who in most cases represent an arrogant, egotistical, and jealous representation of a higher power? In short, can mankind decide for itself what path it shall take into the future without the stagnation, corruption, and misdirection of religion?

As for the existence of God, Ayn Rand the mother of “Ethical Egoism” said in a 1979 interview, “There is no proof…you are never called upon to prove a negative, that is a law of logic.” In other words, I do not need to prove God does not exist if I do not believe in the existence of a god. But if you wish me to believe in God, then the onus is on you to prove to me God exists. Rand believes the existence of God is not based on reason or fact—better known in philosophical terms as a priori knowledge—but faith. “I am against God,” Rand said, “Because I do not want to destroy reason.”

According to Rand, every argument for the existence of God in the course of human history is incomplete. Therefore, in my humble opinion, take the time needed in your daily life to think and reason well in order to judge things for yourself. But more importantly, never let a slap on the wrist stop you.

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