Choosing a religion is pretty much like finding out what is your favorite ice-cream flavor without having tasted anything yet, you just gotta keep trying.
As so many X-files fans know, believing is a really big deal, since it defines whether you're a sane, logical, esceptical person or a bat-shit crazy, gullible, scared-of-life little kid with braces, orthopedic shoes and no notion of science or the freaking theory of evolution.
Religion is, however, a matter of how menacing is you mom vs how far you wanna go in life (Tom Cruise being the obvious exception). Most people depend on a greater being telling them what to do or where to go or how to fuck (if they allow that in your dogmas). It all comes down to a mix between low self-steem, a bunch of pills and very, very few ideas bumping around in one's mind.
Say, your mom fell for a douche who, once they where married, started drinking and hitting her, but instead of her grabbing a baseball bat, waiting 'til he falls asleep and bashing his damn brains out in the middle of the night, she just says: "it's the will of the Lord, we must endure". Me, being a rational person, i think that's the stupidest thing anyone can do. Life, however, has proven itself smart-proof. See, thing is, there's just to much out there we cannot fathom, so we try to cope with it by creating fables and myths and art and dick jokes.
feeling religious yet?
Man found himself in the middle of a world he would never fully understand, so he decided he'd invent something he can understand: enter... God. Of course, back in the old days He was pretty cool and spent most of his time turning people into salt statues, killing homosexuals and making zoophilic travel arrangements for Noah and his family. While also getting Jesus, Zoroaster and Krishna's mothers pregnant knowing beforehand that this guys would be assassinated soon after (30 years old is not to old). But all that somehow worked, since even today, with ipods and ipads and google and robot sex slaves and pizza burgers, there's still a bunch of people depending on god. If God exists though, seems to me like he's a big, evil, vane guy. Since he only created us to worship him. That's like if you only got your high-school sweetheart pregnant just so you could fuck your son or daughter (this is the Woody Allen Approach).
So why do we believe? In what should we believe? If you want to trust Richard Dawkins, this religion thing depends mostly on sociocultural factors like where were you born: so if you're in India, you are probably a hindu, if you were born in Africa, you believe in the great Ju-ju of the mountain, if you're italian, you're a catholic, and if you're an american, you're into schwarzeneggerism and you're sure the devil exists since hey, look at Dick Cheney!
horns are optional, like brains
So let's take a look at the grand scale of things and the vision some of the important religions have about it.
Let's us imagine I get up at 6:30am, i don't even have time for breakfast, i just put on whatever thing lies in the floor that doesn't smell like cat shit or baby's vomit, and just before i close the door of the car, a bunch of evil ninjas come out of the darkness and cut me into small, bite-size, pieces.
it could happen to everyone
So catholics say that i'm going up the stairway to heaven (i hope it's a figure of speech) and then i'll be face to face with a grumpy old guy: Saint Peter, the guardian of the keys! He's old, so perhaps you'd like to just tackle him, steal the keys and get inside, but he's got archangel bodyguards and you don't wanna mess with them (unless you're Bayonetta) so you gotta get in line (there's always a line) with the other thousand people waiting to be judged. That's gotta take years. So by the time you're in front you think you should be safe but Saint Peter doesn't even look at you in the eyes! He's just like: "Yeah, this one thinks PETA was right because they have Pamela Anderson with them, send him to hell" so one of the big fellows takes you by the ankles, rips your skin off and throws your mutilated soul to the demons, where you're gonna spend ETERNITY in torment and pain which I won't even begin to describe, just read The Divine Comedy or play "Dante's Inferno". If by any chance you convince St. Peter to let you through with one of those cool fiftybucks handshakes, well, all you're gonna get is another ETERNITY of being in front of God, telling him he's pretty, that he's got great hair, and wow is he the Man! So it's your life all over again only when they say "You will NEVER be the boss", they mean it.
God (well, one of them)
Muslims say i'm pretty much fucked since i should've been prepared for those damned ninjas (prepared for ninjas! really?) at least psicologically, so before they killed me, i could go all Leon (see The proffesional) on their asses and give them a last gift of 10 freaking grenades attached to my dying body and cursing them so that they know they're going to hell whereas i'm going to heaven where (and this is not as awesome as it sounds) 72 virgins await my arrival since you know, killing ninjas is always good Jihad behavior. For those of us that actually have a life apart from the computer, we know having sex with virgins it's not appealing! They do not know what the fuck they're doing, there will be no BJ's nor anal nor BDSM, so you are pretty much stuck with a bunch of really boring sex-slaves which at any given point may just become feminists and ignore you, forever! Or the really fucked up scenario, since i've never heard of a description of these virgins: they may be old! Or 30+ fat geeks living in heaven's basement!
And if those ninjas catch you offguard and you left all your grenades home that day, well here's an actual quote from the Quo'ran: "I looked at Heaven and saw that their inhabitans were mostly poor; i looked at hell and saw that their inhabitants were mostly women". All of us in the land were the sun sets, know for a fact (thanks Hollywood) that muslims hate women, they don't even wanna see them because they find them offensive to their... who knows? manlyhood? crazy hobo beards? So they decided they all belong in hell, except for the virgins. I bet their Hell is a hell of a lesbian orgy!!!
lesbian orgy: censured by Cracked Editors and the muslim gay community
If, however, you're one of the lucky few who know about the Almighty FSM, you probably know that heaven and hell are just subtly variations of all that is good and bad on earth (as the place we walk by while living) so there's no need for too much differenciation between Paradise and it's evil counterpart. In you die say, while going hunting with Cheney, you'll wake up (death is like sleeping) in a hawaiian-like island with a bigass volcano in the middle, lots of great beaches and tons of beautiful, customizable women to get laid for ETERNITY, ah! did i mentioned that the volcano spits beer? 24/7!!! There's also a stripper factory where you go and choose the tipe of ladyfriend you "need" and they give it to you, no matter how creepy (or japanese) your wishes are. So screw the muslims virgin sex party, they don't even drink! But here you will never get drunk, nor get hangover. And if you weren't so good as the others, well, hell is pretty much the same, only the strippers turn into Detroit $5 hookers and the beer tastes like moose piss, but you'll be too drunk to notice so it's truck driver heaven anyways.
maybe it's just me, but they should consider a pedofile-free zone in this heaven
Or you may take the frisbeeterianism aproach of things and believe that your soul is like a frisbee, so when you die the Gods take it and throw it toward the universal creepy house where you got stuck forever (if evil) or you get pass and start all over again in a new body (if... not-so-evil?)
holy fuck! what are you doing to my soul!!!
Most religions have a good old creation myth as a foundation for all the crazyness that follows. So if you believe that say, Earth was created 6000 years ago, most rational beings are gonna say you're a stupid waste of food and non-renewable resources, if you add to that the fact that it was all created in a week (not even counting sunday, since superbowl was on), that the first dude around took his time to name ALL SPECIES IN THE WORLD while also banging Eve three times a day and talking to snakes (not in parseltonge but in plain english), you should be in a goddamned loony house, but since more than a billion people believe it too, and they run the asylums, you're safe.
But there are other guys out there who have cosmogonycal beliefs that would splatter your brains in ways not even George Romero is ever thought of!
Mormons are well know for being batshit crazy and ideologically retarded (sorry Orson Scott Card but you too) so whatever they say we just try to ignore in order to maintain our sanity, but their creation myth is one of those things that just scream "Fucking pay attention to me!" or "I'm with stupid!" that you must put down your Advance Psychology book (the one you're writing) and listen. Universe and all it contains is infinite (well duh!) but it was all in raw form like 6000 years ago, 'til God, who lives in the planet Kolob (for those not familiar with it, it's right next to the planet Oliblish) decided it was about time someone (or something) cleaned that mess, so he became the Architech of the Universe and his manifestation on Earth became known as Jesus (not Raptor Jesus, but the regular brand). And some years after, a random dude named Joseph Smith (i guess John Doe was too obvious) found his teachings in The Book of Mormon, and decided to teach them to us.
Not at mormon
The Yoruba people are sure that the mormons are wrong and that it was in fact Olurun, the creator, who created all, except water which existed before Olurun which is quite weird, but let's ignore it. Well, the creator sent his son Obatala to Earth. But apparently they lived in a big flying pirate boat, since Obatala descended to Earth on a long chain and all he decided to bring along was a rooster, some dirt, and iron. And (i quote): "He then stacked the iron in the water, the earth on the iron, and the chicken atop the earth". Another god, Chameleon, thought dirt was dry (seriously). Obatala ignored him and created humanity but forgot to give them life, until Olurun understood his son wasn't all that bright so he gave us life himself.
"So, is this it?"
The recently very feared mayans wrote the book on creating worlds. It's called Popol Vuh and it's very similar to the Chilam Balan, but since you haven't read either, just carry on. There were two simple and sad gods floating miserably in the big nothingness until they said "let's do something" but being gods all they needed to do was think and shit got real. Like Mr. Fantastic's son. This guys were Tepeu and Gucamatz (not to be confused to Guacamole, which is a type of avocato salsa). They begun by creating birds and snakes and told them "Worship us!" but shockingly, they didn't obey. So they created men out of mud but men was stupid and they let it get washed away. At this point new characters come into play, Tepeu and Guacamole's grandparents! They suggested they used wood instead of mud. (Grandparents means, usually, that we were created by children, wait, god-children, the worst kind). The wood-people were also dissapointing and idiotic, brainless robots, so the god-children spitted on them so they died. The few that escaped ran to the hills and became monkeys. Finally they got hungry and went for some corndogs and corn with cream and corn with lemon, salt, and chili and they thought, "what if" and here we are, WE, THE CORN PEOPLE, worshipping, still, the god-children.
pictured: your momma!
But the We're So Crazy You Should Just Kill Us Painfully Right Now Award goes to the Scientologists. They believe that (wait for it) 75 million years ago, a space traveler, Xenu, the leader of the Galactic Federation (76 planets that existed for about 20 million years prior to the creation of men and planet Earth) became concerned by the overpopulation on the Federation, so he set sail to conquer new worlds for his people (registered voters only) to live in peace. So, like any "good politician" he froze trillions of people (most of them died in the voyage) and sent them to Teegeeack (Earth, is case you were wondering) where they became the human race. That means you, me, and Steve Jobs, are freaking aliens!
So we've come to the point where i get all philosophical on you. Ever heard of Bertrand Russell? He's very famous in any humanistic career, but otherwise ignored by the practical masses who decided to major in economics, medicine or fast food merchandyse. I won't introduce you to him since, he's dead, but before he died he left a simple, Harvard law graduate level understandable, little fable about religion.
Imagine a guy in a white coat looking all day through a telescope, now let's say he one day finds a little, insignificant dot in the otherwise infinite nothingness of the space. He zooms in and realizes, with awe, that the object he's watching is none other than a flying teapot. This teapot should not be there, but there it is. He goes and writes a whole book about it, he wins the Pulitzer, the Nobel, the Hugo and the Scream Best Mutilation awards in a row, then another guy in white coat, at the far side of the world analyses the teapot and writes a book that completely disagrees with the views of the first guy. Are we good so far? Need some ice for your head? Then imagine this happened about two or three thousand years ago but we still read those books. The one with the Red Teapot and the one with the Blue Teapot (not an allegory for the Cold War, but read as you please). After something like 2000 years, people has fought infinite wars because of the color issue, has murdered countless human beings because of it and this goes on in an infinite cycle of "My mom says the Teapot is Blue" against "Your mom is a big fat ugly cow! The Teapot is Yellow!".
Of course, being smart and all, Russell knew it was stupid to thing people would have the need to fight over teapots forever (unless they're british, and Russell was british) and at some point the jews and the muslims and the protestants and the orthodoxes and the maradonnians would go out for a beer together without their AK-47's or their krav-maga techniques of killing you without a weapon. This, as you may know if you've ever watched the news, has not yet happened.
muslim party: not kidding
Jew goons: also not kidding
Buddhist suicide: i wish i was kidding
and the catholics, whose crimes we cannot even begin to count
My mom says that religion is the only thing that can teach us to respect one another since Jesus said: "do not judge or you shall be judged" and all of that. But it seems a little weird that she and a whole world of people get their moral advices by:
The muslims: who kill women almost as a sport because they feel they're only vessels for the only thing that matters: men with beards (and i have a beard so i understand their point).
totally worth a few murders, right?
The jews: who have enslaved, murdered, denied help to the people who rented their flat while they left it abandoned for more than 800 years, then went all "It is our right since we were here first" and "we were chosen by god" on them.
"I choose the Blue Eyed White Dragon!"
The protestants: who think abortion is the devil's weapon of choice and went on killing doctors who practice it while proclaming they're PRO-LIFE, and denied stem-cell research since hey, cells are little babies, then pretty much obliterated an entire race (the american indians) and decided to launch a great war againts the word "Fuck".
The catholics: who tell third country women they cannot use condoms even if they have 13 children starving at home; who killed men, women and children, but specially women for not believing in Jesus; who say Jesus is love; who say love is not carnal, and then go and fuck little boys who cannot defend themselves and then setting on fire thousands of women for being freethinkers.
"I don't even care if she's telling the truth anymore, this is so MUCH fun!"
The hindus: who segregated entire tribes and told them the poor are poor because they were evil on their past life so one must not help, or even touch them or else one may become contaminated of poorness.
Sorry man, God says you deserve it
Thing is, if you're Choosing a Religion on the basis of bragging about being morally better than me (since i only believe in the Invisible Pink Unicorn and the Flying Spaguetti Monster and of course, myself) you're very, very wrong my brother and some nice group of atheists should crucify you, then impale you, then rape you, then set you on fire, then eat you medium rare, then use your skull as a coffee mug and your legs as drumsticks for being such a poor human being.
Moral does not depend on religious principles, but on life choises and the lack of certain parts of your brain that may change you from Bill Murray into the Son of Sam. If you're going to pray, pray to yourself, pray to George Washington, to Superman, to Stan Lee, to Albert fucking Einstein, to Charlie Chaplin, to Cory Doctorow, to Google, to Xena, to Grant Morrison, to Neil Gaiman, to Shakespeare, to Tolkien or to Eiichiro Oda. But don't say you do what you do because of them since they don't care about you, you're not special, nobody gives a shit about your accomplishements. My point is: wear a damn condom! Spit at George Buch if you see him at Sirloin Stockade! Burn down the churches! Grow a beard for the fun not the rules! And always remember that women are more than half of the human race so if we keep on mistreating them, they could outnumber us, and that would not be pretty.
try to cut my clitoris off now, little man
I'm sorry if my language has in any way offended any reader, but as you may see, i was not born in an english-speaking country, so all of my typos may be typos or may be stupid mistakes of someone who doesn't share english as mother-language.
As for religious offenses: Grow a fucking sense of humor, some wits and some skepticism, please, fast!