by August Berkshire

(This rebuttal opinion was printed in the St. Cloud Times on May 14, 2011. It was also published in the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey. -ed.)

As I pondered the April 28 Times’ Writers Group column “Religion gives adherents guide,” I came up with my own list of meanings for the letters that form the word COEXIST.
 
“C” stands for the rejection of Crusades that religious people have conducted to force their belief in an invisible being on other people who have believed in a different invisible being or in no invisible being at all.  “C” also stands for the Compassion we can have for one another once we abandon the religious beliefs that divide us.  And “C” stands for the Courage we should have to face death squarely and still enjoy and find meaning in life, without the psychological need to invent a heaven to live in after we die.

“O” stands for the Optimism that, through curiosity and compassion (both of which are ingrained in us by evolution), we can solve problems and improve society without inventing invisible beings with conflicting messages.

“E” stands for the Egotism that we need to overcome in order to abandon the fiction that we are the special creation of a supernatural god, rather than the product of another “E” – natural Evolution.

“X” stands for the X-factor in life – the unknown – and the fact that we have to learn to accept it and search for real answers, instead of giving up too soon and inserting a god-of-the-gaps “God did it.”  Because we are never given a tangible definition of what a god is, nor a description of what mechanism a god uses to accomplish anything, “God” is never an answer but is merely a more complicated and unnecessary question.

“I” stands for the Integrity we should have to not bow down to superstitions and prejudices of the past.  And “I” stands for our rejection of religious Intolerance that prevents all citizens from having equal civil rights.

“S” stands for our ability to Save ourselves, rather than believe that a half-man/half-god will save us from the wrath of his god father.  “S” is for the Satisfaction we can gain from thinking for ourselves and helping one another, because there are no supernatural forces that will do it for us.

“T” stands for Tolerance and Together.  The god characters of the three big monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – are demonstrably intolerant, and this is reflected in many of their followers.  Yet it is only through Tolerance that we can COEXIST Together in relative peace.

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