In the biblical account of the Tower of Babel, the people were building a tower to get to heaven so god divided the language and scattered the people. An interesting note in scripture “And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.” Genesis 11:6 KJV—italics added
Although I do not believe in god, this is a sound principle that plagues humanity. United they were actually a threat to god (those in power?). Mere men working together could not be contained from “accomplishing anything they set out to do”.
Learning a second language, traveling a bit of the world, seeing that people are people and division comes through the churches and politics core beliefs is a starting point and a reason to fight—to unite, for together everything is possible. Divided we’re going to get the same results we’ve always gotten. Thank you Swarn and Consoled Reader for the reasonable approach to finding common ground.
Swarn Gill says:
When I was young, I asked my mom, who was (and is) a devout Christian whether or not all the people in other countries who didn’t practice Christianity would go to hell. She said yes if they had heard the story of Jesus and not chosen to believe in it. It was such an odd answer to me, because I was thinking so, it’s better to not hear the story. When I reflected later in life on this answer, it frustrated me even more than the expectation of Christians is that there story is somehow far more believable and compelling than any other.
When I was in my early 20s I asked my cousin, who is of Indian origin and a Sikh (although by no means really religious) whether he believed in God and whether or not he was concerned about one story being right over any other. He said no. He saw all religions as different paths to the same end, which was God. At that time I was still toying around with the idea of their being God, but oddly this statement made me less convinced about it all. It made me think that even if there was a God, all the details of each story were likely not literally true. More importantly the rules and expected behavior for each religion were also much more meaningless. You could distill each religion down to essential parts. It didn’t matter what rituals you practiced, just that rituals might be important to our lives. It didn’t matter exactly what you had faith in, but that faith was important. It didn’t matter which God you were humble before, but that it was important to have humility. I still believe that religion has distilled important values, but the fact that people keep pushing the narrative after all this time is what gets me.
My point in all this is that we can gain a lot through the reading of stories, even as we acknowledge they are only just that. I’ve known people equally inspired by Lord of the Rings as they have been by the Bible. The difference being is that those people who read Lord of the Rings read the whole book. ￼ It’s hard for me to fathom that through truly learning the stories that each religion tells you wouldn’t arrive at the obvious conclusion that they are all stories, and that even if there is a God, nobody’s story is more valid than the next.
To jump off your comments, I also think it’s worth pointing out that the ideas aren’t always in competition. It depends on the particular religion or religious tradition. I once told Branyan (I think over at Ark’s place) that despite being a theist (a deist?) I don’t see my ideas or values or worldview as being significantly different from my wife who is an atheist. We want the same things out of life. We value many of the same things. We also enjoy many of the same things.
Similarly, I’ve read many comments from atheists claiming they don’t respect the views or beliefs of religion or the Abrahamic religions, but I’m fairly confident if I provided a list of my beliefs/views/values (which I consider to be my cultural/religious values) almosy every single atheist would say they agree with most, if not all, of those values or beliefs.
I think it’s always important for people to keep in mind whether they’re really talking about different things or valuing the same thing in different ways.