"The pandit spoke first. 'Mr. Patel, Piscine's piety is admirable. In these troubled times it's good to see a boy so keen on God. We all agree on that.' The imam and the priest nodded. 'But he can't be a Hindu, a Christian and a Muslim. It's impossible. He must choose.'" Yann Martel (2001), Life of Pi, pg. 87.
I must confess that my understanding of all three of these religions listed above from Yann Martel's story is limited, even the Christian faith, despite growing up in an overtly white Christian home.
The basics of the faith were drilled into me from a very young age, to the point that I freely admit it was a form of, if not actually was, brainwashing.
I came to see the world in very contrasted terms. Even within the church itself, each denomination seeks to contrast itself to other denominations. This got me thinking about the necessity of being right that religion derives from creating an us vs. them scenario.
Why is the need to be right such a powerful theme in all religions?
I've always thought that religion is not an academic exercise, in the sense there is no scientific proof that God exists. There is a lot of philosophical proof, but let's be honest, the science of philosophy, is the science of ideas, and the product, is the ability to support an idea through proper justification.
But even then, any religious person that professes to KNOW the truth, deludes themselves and others. The definition of knowledge is this: "justified, true, believe."
So even in trying to define knowing something, we can't get rid of the notion of belief.
Thus, the need to be right, is the need to justify to themselves that they have chosen the right path and such religious people determine that the greater their numbers, the more justifiable is their own belief.
I love to challenge Christians who believe in the literal translation of the bible, and the prime modus operandi is to believe that God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. But here is the one question they cannot answer:
How long were Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden before they were kicked out?
There are a few things to remember when asking this question. (1) We have to remember that it wasn't until after they sinned that death entered the world, according to Christian theology. (2) Was time outside of the garden still happening?
You see, by reason and interpretation of scripture, we are not given the answer to this question. We must therefore conclude that we don't know how long they were in the garden. Adam and Even could have sinned the very next day (say Tuesday after creation). Or they could have been in the garden for millions or even billions of years. And if that is true, who's to say evolution and the adaptation of the species wasn't happening outside the garden?
The reason for this little thought fuck, is to challenge the notion that everything anyone believes is open to interpretation. I believe in the possibility of a God. But I don't think it was the one I was taught about growing up.
And so, like Piscine I refuse to choose just one or any god, and rather just want to live the life I have here to live, in the best way that I know how, or can.