Did God put us here to hurt each other?

I have given years of thought and soul-searching as to what I believe. The benefit of time and experiences, both good and bad, have shown me that I was wrong and more importantly, unkind at times to others that were different than myself.

I believe in God. I believe that we (humankind) are not here by happenstance. I am not saying science is wrong. I believe that a higher power and nature/physics are symbiotic. I offer as my proof of God; abstracts and beauty such as love, music, mathematics and art in all its forms. I think these things demonstrate the existence of an all knowing, and more importantly all-loving God.

It is in my conviction that God is all loving that I cannot accept religion as humanity has seen it practiced throughout history. The basic concept of religion, worship, I find incongruous with the existence of an all-loving God. I feel certain that an all-loving God would not create humankind for the sole purpose of worshipping him. The concept of worship is as if the sole reason to have children is to create them to worship you as parents. There is no way an all-loving God could be selfish and vain. Love is a gift given unconditionally, without the expectation or demand of reciprocity.

All religions base their tenants on writings, stories and the words of men. None of these books were written by God, they were written by men. Often, generations or hundreds of years after the events and people they are discussing. These books have been translated, edited, redacted due to myriads of reasons, politics and power being chief among them.

To date in history, no person, be he a pope, imam, clergy, zealot or otherwise, can offer proof of their knowledge of the mind and will of God more than any other human. Religion is used to further the will and agenda of a man or group -- and more often than not -- with cruelty, slaughter, inequality and intolerance.

It strikes me as obvious that three of the world’s major religions, Christianity, Judaism and Islam share the same God, yet countless millions have been slaughtered in his name, because these religions choose to call Him a different name and claim to know his will. Churches, temples, mosques, etc., are referred to as “houses of worship.” Would not our all-loving God prefer “houses of love”?

I write this humbly as a simple man. If anyone is to read this, I am certain many will attack my premises using arguments that begin with, “the Bible says...” Again, written by men, not God. The mere fact that I am able to write this evidences the reality and truth of free will, not predestination and other nonsense.

My submission of my beliefs is not just predicated by the recent Supreme Court decision regarding gay marriage. I feel compelled by the submissions of judgement, hate and intolerance by so many. To put it bluntly, no one knows what God wants or thinks. I offer only as logic and common sense that God is love. If any religion can ever hope to reach the noble purpose of bringing humankind closer to, or more like God, their focus must change from “worship” and attempted interpretation of God’s will, to love and acceptance.

Our all-loving, unselfish God put us here for a reason. I cannot begin to claim I know what that reason is, but we obviously have free will, why not use it to stop hurting each other?

Lewis Costello is a resident of Kathleen.