I am a Pantheist by philosophy. I'd say by religion, but I'm not big on that word, as I believe that a large percentage of the world's ills are caused by people who use religion as an excuse to be wicked.
By Pantheist I mean that I believe the Universe is all there is and that it's more than enough. We are all parts of the Universe. Everything is divine - that includes you, me, this rock, the trees, and the stars. In fact, our bits are not separated by anything other than our narrow perceptions from the rest of the Universe.
That being perfectly clear, I'd like to say some things about god. I think it's silly to say "God loves you from his throne in a place where streets are paved with gold and he's keeping a big book recording everything you say and do so that when you die he can decide whether to move you in to heaven or burn you for ever." It's more than silly, it's irresponsible, contradictory, and insane to believe in a god like that.
It's irresponsible because people who believe in that god don't really have to take responsibility for the way they treat others or the Earth. They can blame the devil, god's arch enemy, for bad things and they can wait for god to make things right. Well, wake up brothers and sisters, we're it. It's up to us to stop killing in the name of an all-loving god. It's up to us to stop destroying the world. It is irresponsible to think you can do any ol' thing you want because god will come along and take you to a better place soon anyway. Besides, if god created this beautiful planet, wouldn't he like you to take better care of it?
It is immature to let someone else do your thinking for you. When you accept something on faith or because your religion told you to, you are abdicating your responsibility. You're saying you are just too lazy to decide for yourself and that you are so without a moral compass that you must rely on someone else to tell you what is right and wrong. And let's face it, the big three religions don't have all that good a track record when it comes to right and wrong.
Speaking of contradictions, pick an Abrahamic religion that isn't full of them. God loves you. God will burn you in the everlasting pit of fire if you get out of line. Turn the other cheek and kill the enemy. Not by good works will ye be saved. Love without works is dead. .I don't have to go on, do I? Come on. Sure it takes some getting over to grow out of the religion of our youth that managed to shape our thinking (or lack of it). And sure, we were scared and blackmailed into "believing" all sorts of things. But you can't really buy the stories, can you? And if you can, how do you decide which bits are true and which are just "mysteries?"
When someone hears or sees a big guy in the sky who tells him what to do, we call that insane. Sanity may be consensus, but most of us would agree that cutting ourselves, hitting ourselves, starving ourselves isn't emotionally healthy. Unless of course, it's for religious purposes and that religion matches our own. Then it's spiritual, right? Same for killing other people. If I kill a bunch of people because Bosco, a big purple head that follows me around told me to, I'd be put away and medicated in this world and burned in the next. But if I bomb a building because god wants me to, I get a bunch of virgins or a gold paved driveway or something. And if I eat human flesh I'm a monster, but if I eat the body and drink the blood of god, it's just ducky.
I don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The Jesus who is peaceful and wise and loving is a good person to emulate. Churches that feed the hungry, house the homeless, provide healthcare, etc. are admirable. They are doing something worthwhile.
But good things are done by Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddists, Pagans, and even people who talk to big purple heads. Bad things are done by them, too. And some of the best music, painting, sculpture, literature I know is spiritual or religious in nature. The greatest percentage of my friends claim religion, though I don't think many of them are true believers of the whole schmere.
But I'm not an atheist. It is my understanding that atheists don't believe in the divine. I think everything is divine. And that is why it is so important to take care of each other and our world. It is,and we are holy.
It's not without some hesitation I have written this and put it out there. Basically I'm afraid. But I'm not as afraid as I used to be. And I'm sad that people (I know you're out there) have to be afraid in a country with freedom of religion to be thought to be without it.