Conclusions of a Thinking Man
It is often said that man is the only animal with the ability to truly reason, think, and apply knowledge to build great civilizations and invent new technologies. It is incumbent on all of us, Zach felt, to use our abilities to make life on this earth as safe, as meaningful, as happy and as fulfilling as possible. The study of religion and what part it plays in our lives is of utmost importance, for we must either follow and live by the tenets of our chosen god and religion, or by whatever principles we have chosen to live by in the absence of an established religion telling us how to live.
We must diligently study the many perspectives of religion, Zach thought. As far as possible, we must ascertain facts, varying opinions and interpretations, and various conclusions. Then, using our mind, our experience, our intellect and our heart, we must determine what is indeed true and what are falsehoods. We must then live our lives with these truths as our foundation, to help ourselves and others to live life fully, happily and free from fear or harm.
Zach put together a series of thoughts and activities designed to help people arrive at the truth, and put them together in a brief pamphlet, True Truths: 100 Days Toward True Understanding of You and Your Religious Beliefs. He also made it available on the Internet at the web site www.truetruths.com. Obviously, he knew people would never have all the information before they make decisions. However, Zach wanted them to at least explore and examine the many perspectives of religion and see in what direction that will lead them. He hoped that his film, his website and the pamphlet would help.
Zach knew that people who consider themselves devout followers of their religion – whatever that may be – will likely be told by others and constrained by their own beliefs to not explore these other avenues. People will likely be directed back towards their faith and the leaders of their church, and will likely be told not to give into temptation by studying the “work of the devil.” But, Zach wanted to tell the world, if you look at what we propose you do, there is nothing that will steer you away from your religion other than the truth. If you find your religion is the truth for you, then so be it.
However, Zach pleaded, make up your own mind after examining the evidence. Isn’t that the way it should be? Don’t let someone else do your thinking for you. Don’t let others tell you what to believe.
The final minutes of his film were almost complete. After digging, searching, scrounging, listening, debating, feeling, considering and thinking, it was very clear to Zach what the conclusions had to be.
Zach strongly felt he saw the truth, and to be honest, he didn’t like a lot of what he saw. He saw deceit and deliberate lies. He saw hate and greed and the disregard for his fellow man. He saw evil raise its ugly head, perched on a firm, strong foundation built through centuries of lies and deception. Though built on falsehoods, this foundation had grown immensely strong, taking advantage of man’s innate need to be good and right and just.
He also saw masses of people misled and misguided. He saw good, decent people brainwashed to believe the unbelievable. He saw the lies and deception. He saw the bending, twisting and breaking of the truth, so that millions of good people were convinced to follow and even cherish those broken truths.
To Zach, the message he wanted to share was clear. The message was true. The message was uplifting and life affirming. However, many people still had not heard the message.
Zach thought he knew how an evangelistic preacher must feel. Zach was sure he knew the truth, and he wanted to, he needed to, he had to, share the truth with others. He felt a missionary’s zeal to spread the word of truth to those who had never heard it spoken so loudly and so proudly.
He knew he would be laughed at. He knew he would be scorned. He knew there would be those who would condemn him as the devil incarnate. And he knew there were even those who would want to do him physical harm.
But he had to speak. He could not remain silent amidst the tyranny of loud, persistent, intolerant religious zealots. He was confident that most people, given the opportunity to actually study the facts and truths of the world, would recognize the fallacies and falsehoods of organized religion. They would identify those truths that lead to happiness, progress and fulfillment in our world, and none of those truths would include kneeling on bended knee praying to some mythical god or giving their possessions to some self-appointed “man of god”.
Time and time again, Zach had seen people who did not follow a “recognized” religion described as godless, evil, corrupt men – soldiers of Satan. Organized religions had painted a sordid picture of those who did not follow the “true religions” as soulless, bitter, and unworthy – the dregs of society.
Zach resented this stereotype. First of all, it wasn’t true. Yes, there were evil and disgusting men who did not follow organized religions, just as there were evil and disgusting individuals who did follow organized religions. However, there were also many good, fair, just men and women who were not “believers” in an organized religion. For example, Zach certainly would not consider Thomas Jefferson, Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison “dregs of society.”
Somehow, much of society said it was evil to not attend a church or temple or mosque. It was a sin if you did not take your child to religious services, or if you failed to kneel praying to some god created by man. It was a sin if you did not brainwash your children with religious myths and falsehoods. You are a heathen if you don’t.
This is what Zach saw organized religion had brought to men and women around the world:
Unfortunately, many men and women continue to be misled and to errantly believe in these mythical gods and let their lives be controlled by them. Religious leaders prey on the weak and the needy, on the need of men and women to be good, to follow these man-made religions.
Lessons that need to be learned:
We cannot let mythical, man-made religions dictate how we think, how we live, and how we run our civilizations. We must formulate laws and rules and principles based on our knowledge of right and wrong, on what is pragmatic, and on what is best for our society.
Books and commandments written by man, purporting to be the “word of God,” that dictate to people what to believe, how to think and how to live their lives are dishonest and unconscionable. If there is a God – and there may be – he is not the God portrayed by organized religions.
We must enlighten people that man and woman are good and decent, not because they believe in some mythical entity, but because they are people of strong character and good moral values, and who act accordingly. Yes, society must have rules, and should have rules, but they should be based on the truth and what will benefit society as a whole.
What did Zach hope to accomplish with this film project?
As stated in the beginning, Zach wanted people to:
What honest, rational, decent human could argue with that?
Imagine redirecting the billions of hours and billions of dollars and other resources from man-made religions to organizations and programs that actually help mankind – childcare, education, food and nutrition programs, medical care and research, and cultural programs. Think of the possibilities – reading programs, communication workshops, parenting classes, conflict resolution classes, athletic programs, character building activities, job training, and countless other community programs. Imagine the resources that could be put into building and improving roads and bridges, schools, libraries, parks, energy plants, water and sewer systems, homes for the poor and community centers.
What about the good things that religion does? Certainly, society should continue doing the good things churches do. Continue programs for the poor and needy. Continue education classes on effective communications, maintaining healthy relationships, marriage and parenting assistance and other needs of society. Continue teaching our people the importance of honesty, responsibility, hard work and respect. Emphasize the importance of loving family and friends and neighbors, and of working together as communities for the benefit of all.
Instead of time and money being spent on praising a mythical God and studying fairy tales in the Bible or Koran, people could spend some of this time and money to support community programs. Imagine how much genuine good church members could do with the millions of hours spent in church activities every week. Instead of spending time and money to brainwash children and adults, to mislead well-intentioned people, and to fill the coffers of religions, these resources could be used to make worthwhile improvements to the real world that actually benefit mankind.