Written on Sunday, June 11, 2006

Recently, I had a discussion with a loved family member about how I did not believe in religion. Subsequent to our conversation, I initiated the following (edited) e-mail to her, with my thoughts on the matter:

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: religion culture etcetera
Date: Tue, 02 May 2006 01:00:28 -0400
From: J. Atto

Today we spoke of religion. I wanted to share some of my thoughts on
the subject with you.

When I was very young, I was a curious boy. In many ways I still am,
but society and work seem to be slowly killing off my curiosity. On
long drives to and from hockey arenas near and far, my father and I
would talk. I would ask him the most basic questions, about government,
the world, our family, religion, culture, etc.

One day, I asked him why we were the religion that we were. His answer
to me was the best answer that a father could give his son. He said,
"Jeff, we are Chaldean Catholics because our parents taught us to be
this way. Their parents taught them to be this way, and so on, and so
forth, back into our ancestry. I could have just as easily been born
into a family that practiced a different religion, and I would have
taught you to believe that religion."

His answer is perfect because he told me the truth.

He didn't tell me that Jesus or (the vengeful Christian/Jewish) God was
"the only path to heaven", because being an honest father would seem to
contradict such a story. He can't prove that this religion is "the true
religion". All he could do was say that this is what he was taught, and
what he believes, and encourage me to believe the same.

So, do I believe in any organized religion? No. I used to, but I began
to read up on history and philosophy, and other subjects. Doing this, I
began to question some very major flaws in most of the world's
religions. Am I smarter than a religious person? No, of course not. I
don't judge people's intelligence or their character based on one aspect
of their lives. If they are black, or Jewish, or Homosexual, that isn't
enough to define them.

This is the only way to live. I believe that wo/man created organized
religion, and created it to answer some very basic and fundamental
questions about life, such as "Who/what created the universe", and/or
"What happens after death?", and other similar important questions.
These are questions that I believe all people ask themselves at one
point or another.

I hope this helps to explain how I feel about this subject to you.

- Jeff


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: religion culture etcetera
Date: Tue, 02 May 2006 18:45:46 +0000
To: J. Atto

Thanks for sharing some of your thought. I have a similar story. I once went to confession and told the priest "I think I am only
Catholic because that's what my parents raised me as." He answered that was common concern, but I was born into that religion for a
reason. Why wasn't I born into another religion? For me, it's important to believe in God and heaven, and life after death.

I have a few questions for you.
If you marry a Jewish girl would you want your children to be bar/bat mitzvahed?
If you marry a Moslim girl, will you raise your children Moslim?
Can you marry only someone who also does not believe in organized religion?
Maybe I should first ask if you believe in marriage?

I also agree that a person is not defined by their religion or sexuality. But that does not mean I will support or accept what I do not
believe to be eithically right.


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: religion culture etcetera
Date: Tue, 02 May 2006 17:56:33 -0400
From: J. Atto

I believe the answer to your question, "Why wasn't I born into another
religion?" is "Chance." I believe that since 35% of the world believes
in Catholicism, that you had a 35% chance of being raised in a Catholic
family. I think that for most humans, it is important to believe in God
and heaven, and life after death, because there is so much injustice and
unexplained things in this world. If there is no God, and no life after
death, and a person gets murdered for no reason, we feel that something
unjust has happened. Since we do not know (nobody really knows) what
happens after death, our fear takes over. Fear of unexplained things is
natural. Religion explains those fears. However, so does philosophy,
logic, and rational thought.

I respect your beliefs in God and heaven, and life after death. However,
I draw the line when religious people (and I am not referring to you in
this particular example) try to force their beliefs onto others. This
generally results in much more than just an inconvenience. It results in
harassment, death, and mayhem. History is our guide as to what happens
when religious people take control. That period in history was called
"The Dark Ages". Another period in history when religious people had
control is now commonly called "The Holocaust".

Now, to answer your questions:

1. If I marry a Jewish person, I will forbid them from teaching the
children about religion and allow the child to make up his/her mind on
their own. I would let the child know from a very young age that there
are very many religions in the world, and provide them with readings
from these religions so that they can make up their own mind as they
grow up. I would not influence their decision.

2. If I married a Muslim (note the spelling), I would definitely not
allow the children to be raised in an Islamic household, for the same
reasons as outlined above (see #1).

3. No, I can marry anybody of any faith (or non-faith, as the case may
be). Let them believe what they want to believe. I just won't let them
poison the minds of innocent children of whose DNA is 50% mine.

4. Do I believe in marriage? Hmm... just as when you asked me "Do you
believe in God", I must answer your question with a comment: "I guess
that depends on how you define marriage". If you define marriage as a
holy Christian sacrament, then no, I don't believe in it. Keep in mind
that up until about 30 years ago (for more than 2000 years), Christian
women had no rights, no role other than housekeeping, and no say in
anything. Talk about your holy sacrament. Oh, and the bible was written
by men, for men who control women.

4. Anyway, however if you are asking me if I believe in the union of two
souls who love each other, who support each other, and are faithful to
each other...if you define marriage that way (which is how the
dictionary defines it...see below), then YES, I do resoundingly and
wholeheartedly believe in marriage.

5 entries found for /marriage/.

*mar·riage* Audio pronunciation of "marriage"
( P ) *Pronunciation Key*

1. The legal union of a man and woman as husband and wife.
2. The state of being married; wedlock.
3. A common-law marriage.
4. A union between two persons having the customary but usually
not the legal force of marriage: a same-sex marriage.
2. A wedding.
3. A close union: “the most successful marriage of beauty and blood
in mainstream comics” (Lloyd Rose).
4. _/Games./_ The combination of the king and queen of the same suit,
as in pinochle.

I am glad that you agree that a person should not be defined by their
race, religion, or sexuality. But what do you not support or accept
about someone's race, religion, or sexuality? What could not be
ethically right about being Chinese, Jewish, or Lesbian? Whose ethics
are you using to judge whether something is ethically right? Are you
using universally accepted ethics (there are folks who devote their
lives to the study of ethics), or are you using a myopic (and hateful)
religious definition of ethics which damns that which is not considered

8 entries found for /ethics/.

*eth·ic* Audio pronunciation of "ethics"

( P ) *Pronunciation Key* (thk)

1. A set of principles of right conduct.
2. A theory or a system of moral values: “An ethic of service
is at war with a craving for gain” (Gregg Easterbrook).
2. *ethics* /(used with a sing. verb)/ The study of the general
nature of morals and of the specific moral choices to be made by a
person; moral philosophy.
3. *ethics* /(used with a sing. or pl. verb)/ The rules or standards
governing the conduct of a person or the members of a profession:
medical ethics.

Keep in mind the actual definition of ethics, as I have provided it here
for your convenience. Part of the problem with discourse is that you and
the person with whom you are speaking need to be speaking the same
language. I find that religious people use odd definitions of words, so
I want to make sure we are on the same page. When you say marriage and
ethics, I want to read it as marriage and ethics and have us both
thinking the same thing.

- Jeff