The whole “us against them” mentality which pervades everything (religion, politics, pop culture) is what the great spiritual leaders have always warned us against – no matter which god, gods, or ideology you believe in. It seems that the core message is lost. It is too easy for people to confuse dharma with dogma. We consider ourselves detached, spiritual atheists.
Incidentally, what we believe, for the record: there is no “God”, there is a life force (call it “Nature”); it encompasses everything in the Universe. The Universe is billions of years old. Evolution is a fact; it is happening right now, everywhere. Charles Darwin did not “invent” evolution – he observed it, in spite of his personal beliefs.
“God” is a mental construct – a way to put a persona to the unexplainable or incomprehensible. The Universe is neither good nor bad – it simply is. We have very little control over it – just over ourselves and our actions. It is our responsibility to assist the weak, to harness strength toward a good end, and to practice doing as little harm as possible to the Earth, the things that occupy the Earth, the Universe, and ourselves. There is a soul, which is the personal aspect of the life force (“Nature”). It continues on infinitely and in different forms, probably through reincarnation (and probably there is some accumulation of wisdom/intelligence/knowledge each time that one is reborn, or at the very least, new lessons are learned/carried forward – one hopes). No doubt we’ve all known the loved ones that we now cherish, and will again, as well as others that we have yet to meet.
There may or may not have been a “Jesus” (in fact, there were probably several, and no doubt many of them were prophets; think of the poet Homer who is credited with The Iliad and The Odyssey), most likely “he” is an amalgamation of several people/beliefs (some of which are great, some not so good; also the debt to Odin and Prometheus is undeniable). And as to Heaven and Hell (or whatever people wish to call them), these are fictitious places; in some ways, they truly are what you make them, and can be right here on Earth.
The Bible, the Koran, the Talmud were all written by humans. (Monotheism generally is very destructive and counter-productive. Has there every been a more negative force?) Some of the things in them are good; some are bad; and a lot of the ideas were stolen outright from Pagans, Hindus, Sumerians and other mythologies (Greeks, Norse, etc). We’ve both read the Bible (cover to cover) and have familiarity with many other religious (including Native American beliefs) and mythological texts. They are fascinating, but should not be taken literally – especially since many of them are metaphors for which the original meanings have been long lost and/or intentionally mistranslated (such as to emphasize a male-dominated world view). Both of us pray/meditate and practice spiritual acts such as Yoga, vegetarianism, compassion, tolerance and understanding and we believe strongly in symbolism and the psychological power of such symbols and personal rituals (astrology, totems, and other associations with personal or historical significance). We utterly believe in science, logic and technology versus mysticism and wishful thinking. We believe in the total separation of Church and State. (Most of the Founding Fathers of the U.S. were either Deist or outright atheist.) We accept the Universe as it is.
The End of the World is not at hand – however, the Universe will eventually contract many billions of lifetimes from now, and it will be born again, as it has always been and will always be.