Monday, January 03, 2011

On Religion and Faith

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. - Desiderata

Last night I saw BBC’s Intelligence Squared debate between former Prime Minister Tony Blair and famous author Christopher Hitchens discussing the topic – “Is religion a force for good in the world?”

Blair was defending religion standing on his personal belief in God while Hitchen, an atheist, tried to debunk that conviction with logic sprinkled with dry humor. At the onset, “cons” was favored, ahead by 30% against the “pros”, in which 20% of the listeners are “undecided”. After deliberation, “cons” lead increased. Technically “cons” won but, in my opinion, “pros” didn’t lose either because its points didn’t diminish. Its standing also improved garnering almost half the “undecided” opinion*.

I personally sided with Hitchen but not totally because I still believed in a Supreme Entity. May He be the ultimate judge, jury and executioner, a specie far more superior than our own or a force that governs the physical universe is another topic to be discussed.

The thing is I refuse to abide with “organized” religion. I don’t need somebody, who wears a white robe or an immaculately dressed man with manicured nails, to tell me how to go about my business in this world. Blame my dear mother. She exposed me to the bible at an early age hoping, someday, her second son will don the frock and serve the Lord. Instead the opposite happened. I found inconsistencies and began to question the “goodness” of God especially in the Old Testament. She calls me “erehes” (Spanish for heretic) every time she runs out of answer.

For me, faith is a personal belief. I have my own concept of who is God and what to expect from Him. It is an amalgamation of different “ism” I found logical, practical or construed to contain “goodness” in it. I don’t blame Him for any misfortune I meet, for any catastrophic upheaval caused by nature or man-made destruction. But I can’t help but thanks Him for all the good things that come my way. I tried to emulate Jesus’ teaching about goodness to fellow men and Confucian philosophy on how to separate man from beast. But I don’t believed in the Trinity nor totally agree with the “thick face - black heart” principle. I believe in the benefit of Yoga and the effect of Karma but I won’t buy polytheism. I believe in “yin-yang”, “causes and effect”, the balance of nature, compassion, moderation and humility but I wont pray for guidance to my long dead grandparents nor expect to be born again.

If it is my “God-given” birthright to think, then it is up to me to decide the difference between right and wrong or good and bad. What is important is I am at peace with my God. He doesn’t threaten me with eternal damnation in case I disagree with Him. He doesn’t destroy and create my world every thousand or so years. He doesn’t have “favoritism” among his creation and He is neither vain nor insecure to require me to pledge my allegiance several times a day.

Don’t confuse opinion with belief. It takes proof to build an opinion but believing is all it takes in your belief. You may compare it with a scene from the movie, Finding Nemo: The whale told Dory to “let go” because “it is time”. Marlin, afraid, reluctantly asked “How do you know he won’t eat us?” To which Dory replied “I don’t” – that my friends is what I call FAITH.

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*If you’re interested on watching the episode of Intelligence Squared, you may refer to these dates. Or you can watch the highlights on YouTube. Tag in “Intelligence Square”, “Tony Blair” and “Christopher Hitchen” on your search.


  1. You are my kind of religious guy.

  2. whatever will make you closer to the Creator... i believe that's what it matters.

  3. bertN, thank you.

    donG, just like the parable of the 3 roads isn't it. He wont ask what road you take but how you did your job. : )

  4. I believe, therefore I am. Do I make sense? Pero for sure, what I believe in, it's actually what makes me me. Happy new Year!

  5. Ahh... another brave soul who's not afraid to voice her opinion about her belief. Happy new year too, sheng. : )

  6. I am one of the Catholics who 'selectively' follow the practices. One of the nicest things about being a free thinker is not being boxed by traditions and unreasonableness. At the end of the day, it's our faith that makes us happy. Happy enough that we can infect the others to have a strengthened faith. :)

  7. Ms.Jo, "selectively" is the operative word. I still go to church on Sunday if I can. But like you, I too refuse to be chained on traditional ways of thinking of the clergy. : )

  8. iyan, iyan ang sinasabi ko. faith is personal. it's what you believe, not what others say. to each his own iyan. kudos sa iyo. we dovetail in this. you said it perfectly.

    imagine how i felt when i read about hagar. the slave of sarah, concubine of abraham. slavery and concubinage in one sentence. a woman who was trapped in a very limiting and cruel woman's lot at that time. then imagine me, the macho woman who hates limitations based on gender. that i was able to transcend and comprehend and accept that, and stay in this faith was a tough, personal battle.

    i still go to church and find it comforting and calming. i appreciate the fact that i was raised without religious restrictions imposed on me by my parents.

    ang haba ng komento ko. blog post na kung tutuusin. but i really feel strongly about this issue. faith is personal. let each person define his/her faith based on the battles he/she fought to stay in it.

  9. atticus, well said. but don't tell middle eastern people that hagar is sarah's handmaiden or a concubine. they insist that she is abraham's second wife.

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