A Gamer’s Musings: Religion

I consider myself an Atheist. I do not believe there is divinity or that there is a need for it.

So what does a gamer have to say on it?

I was born as a Buddhist and followed my mom to the temples regularly when I was young. At some point in time, the question of “why” popped in my head.

  • Why pray to a statue of Buddha?
  • Why burn incense? (It doesn’t help that it always made me sneeze.)
  • Why do we whisper our wishes, prostrated in front the statue of Buddha? (He will probably flip in this grave when he hears some of those wishes…like winning the lottery)

Much later, it occurred to me that other religions do pretty much the same thing. The object of worship may be different but people do largely the same thing.

Now religion in many forms make a regular appearance in games and (Japanese) anime. Portrayals of heaven and hell, of angels and demons, of virtue and sin, and the conflicts of various religious ideals are common-place. As a heavy consumer of these media, it is thus not surprising that my own views had been heavily influenced by them. A parent who allows his/her children to partake in these media, should take note of this fact. In my case at least, this exposure eventually led me to Atheist. I would still follow my mom to the temples, but it no longer holds any meaning to me.

I believe that religion has its place in human society. There is no doubt that there are many great works (music, art, architecture) that derives their creation from it. Many out there would swear by the mental support provided by religion that brought them over times of despair. And religious stories can be so fun to read (with a grain of salt). Yet I can’t help but feel there is something not quite there.


 

I love the way religion was portrayed in Civilization 5. You would found a religion and guide its development through a choice of “beliefs”. Now the interesting part is what these beliefs are. Given that this is a game, the beliefs would grant various benefits to cities that held this religion.

In the hours spent on train rides to and fro work, I do not know why but I would sometimes think about religion. Now I do not claim to be an expert on it but if I were to remove the mystical parts of a religion and decide what the central tenet (the one that really matters) would be, this is what it (a partial list) will look like to me.

Buddhism Self-culture
Abrahamic Religions Moral Guidance
Taoism Harmony
Hinduism Karma

I do think that there is a certain beauty in this simplistic approach to religion. For one, when reduced to a simple, single concept, they can be combined in various ways to form a unique belief, much like that in the game.

The Religion of Me (Me-ism?)

With that in mind, I realized that I can follow my own path in life without the shackles of a typical religion. If I were to put it to words, it may sound like this:

  • (Morality) Whether God(s) exist is irrelevant. I trust in myself to possess a good enough moral compass to do good (or at least no bad) to those around me and will follow it without the need for divine intervention or the fear of divine retribution.
  • (Self-Culture) Through self-reflection, I can perform self-correction on my actions, bettering myself as a person and improving my moral compass. Buddha serves as a exemplar and is hence an equal and not divine.
  • (Karma) I am not obliged to help someone, nor is someone obliged to help me. Yet good begets good and evil begets evil, thus that shall be the motivation to help when I can.
  • (Harmony) A good work-life balance brings harmony to the home. A good nutritional balance brings harmony to the body and in doing do, good health.

Since the religious embellishments have been removed, I can also say the following:

  • I cannot and will not force my beliefs onto others. Because I recognize that my way is not the ONLY one.
  • Those who do not share my beliefs are free to lead their own happy lives (and deaths). Because everyone has a different set and condemning the entire populace is just retarded.
  • I take full responsibility for my own actions. Because I don’t have anyone, divine or not, to hide behind.

Put it simply…

My actions are my own and I am my own master.

 

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