In the thirty-minute walk from my home to work, I had a blog idea all sketched out. And then when I got here, and used WordPress.com’s Tag Surfer to skim interesting blogs, I came across one that kind of twisted my head halfway off.
It was written by a young woman who appears to be slowly turning jaded by the comments and actions of people in her church.
Ever have an itch you just can’t scratch? That was my feeling as I read through her heart-felt disenchantment on religion in general. You are not supposed to say that you hate anyone. Especially when you’re in church.
I suppose I sympathize with her to a degree – it’s tough when the carefully assembled collage of dogma, built upon the warmth of your fellow believers, starts to turn an unpleasant shade of yellow.
It’s not that it has changed colours, actually. It’s that you have.
Man. I was *not* ready to talk about this.
A girl I was out with recently (no, not the Russian beauty – another one), remarked in frustration that it’s now fashionable to be atheist. We talked about that a bit. I agreed with her, and wondered out loud if people in general had just become more realistic, more sophisticated. There are those who are so disgusted by “Christian” talk, that they want to throw the baby out with the bath water. The equation goes something like this: if these people represent what God is supposed to be like (including Fred Phelps of “God Hates Fags” fame), and they’re so frigging hypocritical, then maybe God doesn’t exist.
It’s a dumb equation, built more upon emotion. Of course science comes along with incontrovertible truths, and some use that to bolster their argument. But the core is still the same: I have yet to find an atheist (although I’m certain some exist) who at their core aren’t emotional about their atheism.
Agnostics have more credibility, at least for me: most that I’ve known will acknowledge that you can’t know whether there’s a God or not. You can only guess or you can have faith. I respect that, because I think it’s honest.
Getting back to our disenchanted woman: I suppose if she and I were to chat I would tell her that I believe in God but absolutely have no belief or trust in religion. I see religion as a social system, with built-in safeguards and fail-safes, much of which involves circular reasoning. “The Bible is true. How do we know? Because it says it is.”
You just can’t break into that “logic”. Don’t get me wrong – I’m using this as a typical example. I have no problem with the Bible, none whatsoever. I arrived at my faith because of it.
The mindset that came up with that reasoning is – to use a Star Trek reference – kind of like the Borg: it’s composed of multiple people over many centuries, is self-defining, entirely interlaced and hence unbreakable. My experience leads me to conclude that to get some clear thinking, you need to break away from it.
Breaking away from (what they call) “the church” is a scary experience. Fear is a great motivator. “You’ll be lost, without hope, if you go away from the church”. What they don’t say, but what everyone understands is that you’ll be a backslider, to be avoided – unless to invite you back to the fold.
I stopped going, and began to realize that my love of God wasn’t threatened in the least. It provided an opportunity to *think* – using the magical God-given organ – my brain. I thought about what it means to be someone who was made “in the image of God”. Logically, it doesn’t make sense that we’re talking the physical necessarily, and really – is our physicality the sum total of who we are?
In my opinion, not likely: the amazing amassing of intelligence and science, the industries built upon emotion (like the entertainment industry for example), the undeniable genius of our medical and space advances means that we are more than likely not just wandering meat-bags. Anyway, it’s logical.
So. What’s the relevance of the Bible and religion? I would guess it’s a good starting point, particularly for those who need some sort of system to put every piece of the puzzle in place. But grown men and women should probably think about acting as men and women and not children, who need to be told what to do every step of the way. We like our religion, and our dogma and the company of other religionists: it keeps us comfortable and more importantly – we feel safer with the safeguard of “the church” in place.
If God exists, and if we are built in His image, then our creativity, our ability to reason and think, all reflect Him. And if that’s true, then we are obligated to remove our religious diapers and start walking on our own, making our own decisions, revelling in living life (and not just tolerating our existence until we get Our Reward in the afterlife). Oh, and those who think sex is wrong: well God made that too. Time we stopped blushing at the idea of it.
Yes, I did not mean to talk about this today. Our regularly scheduled program was preempted. It’s not my fault. I wanted to talk about guilty pleasures.