Religion & Science: What Do You Believe?
Yes, I’m doing it again. This week I wrote a rather unpopular article about sports and now I am going to bring up religion, a subject some consider so touchy that entire wars were fought over it. I must be a glutton for punishment.
To avoid starting any wars both on a national and personal level, I’d like to clear up that my viewpoints are based on belief, opinion, and experience. I’m not telling you that what you believe is wrong. End disclaimer.
I’m an atheist, or someone who doesn’t believe that there is a deity. This doesn’t make me a “satan worshipper” or mean that I sacrifice goats on a pentagram every Friday night. If you did your homework, you’d know that atheists don’t believe in anything mythical. I have my reasons. For one, I don’t believe in blindly following that which I cannot see. I’ve learned in this life that in the end, you are the one responsible for your own actions, for weaving your own future, for choosing what is right and what is wrong. No amount of faith will cause a deity to descend, ascend, or spontaneously appear and tell you how things should play out, be it obvious or not.
This is clearly a sign that everyone from Idaho is going to heaven. Fact.
I went to a Catholic grade school and became an altar server at their church, so I’ll be using this faith in the majority of my examples. Every week we’d have mass…you know…all that stand up, sit down, kneel, stand up, kneel, bend over, put your left arm in, put your right foot out hocus pocus? There was a pastor there that used to get angry with me for not remembering what it was I was supposed to do while I was alter serving. I was in the sixth or seventh grade and my parents were either divorced or were in the process of; my head wasn’t exactly on straight to keep all of my ducks in a row. That asshat of a priest took me aside and with clenched teeth told me to “get my act together.” I quit altar serving after that and never looked back.
This experience taught me that priests and those devoted to the faith are only human beings like the rest of us. They don’t have a special link with a deity, they are just very good at public speaking. Why do you think faith healers are called faith healers? The mind is a powerful thing. Do you honestly think that donating a dollar to the church will ensure you a spot into whatever positive afterlife your religion says there is? Say ten Hail Mary’s to repent so that a deity can forgive your sins? Please.
When I was nineteen a friend of the Catholic church invited me to speak to a pastor about the questions I had regarding the big nagging question, “Is there a god?” I admit he was a crafty one and very persuasive, but he couldn’t answer my questions. His whole argument was faith-based; he couldn’t provide me with a shred of proof that a higher power existed. He would read from his bible certain passages to try to impress me but when I questioned the origin of that book it was essentially my word versus his. How do I know who actually wrote that book? Were we there to witness anything that happened? For all we know, these stories were made up to help bring order to the chaos that was brewing during those times. Perhaps there was a Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and they decided that there needed to be a written moral code for people to follow accompanied by fear mongering and threats of a place where you’d burn if you were a bad person? All he could keep repeating was the word, “faith.”
Faith. If people need to believe there is a higher power guiding them and if they feel comforted believing in such a thing then fine. My faith is in my own abilities. My knowledge of the subject matter is what inevitably makes or breaks a bad situation, not a deity. People often fear that which they don’t understand. Some that don’t understand look to a higher power to explain it. Just because we don’t understand something doesn’t mean we aren’t capable of understanding how it works in the future via scientific discovery.
The Ewoks, a primitive culture, worshiped C3PO and he was nothing more than a bundle of circuits.
If you were to go back in time to the caveman days and showed them your cell phone, you’d either have been clubbed and robbed or praised as a higher power and worshiped. If there is a higher power out there, maybe (note the word maybe) it’s another civilization with advanced technology watching us or perhaps even interacting with us. Maybe miracles are nothing more than an alien being meddling in our affairs…who’s to know?
Another question I had for the pastor was why there were so many gods worshipped in other cultures…how could they all be true? To other cultures, their god is the one true god but in the Catholic religion, theirs is supposedly the one true god. How can this be? I refuse to believe that there are separate / multiple gods watching over each country that shares their own beliefs. Do they play tennis in their off time at seventy thousand feet? I don’t get it.
My point is that religion is nothing more than a faith-based belief people use to help them get through their daily lives. I can do that without believing in a higher power by learning, growing, and developing a code of values I can be comfortable with. I can do that without believing in a higher power by drawing upon my experience and wisdom. I believe that knowledge is power.
Sheldon Cooper agrees with me. Bazinga.
People treat religion like it’s a high and mighty thing. How many wars were caused by religion? The belief that “my god” is better than “your god?” How many people are threatened or killed daily over what deity they believe in? Doesn’t sound very enlightened to me.
In the end we all must do what we believe in or what makes us happy. Don’t force your beliefs on others. Everyone is entitled to talk about their beliefs and opinions but forcing people to believe in something they don’t would go against what most religions supposedly believe in anyway, the freedom of choice and free will. Ironic isn’t it? For all the preaching about doing good and not doing evil, about free choice and doing the right thing, people go door to door to share their religion and give you a hard time when you say no. It’s amazing how quickly hypocrites can be born when it suits their needs. Excommunication anyone?
Is there a higher power? Maybe. If there ever is proof someday that there is and not just faith then I’d analyze it like a good free-thinker would. Until that day happens, I intend to continue to learn, grow, and do what I think is morally correct as best as being human allows me to be. If it turns out there is an afterlife and a judgement system, at least I’ll know that I tried to do the right thing and I’ll be able to rest easy. We’re not perfect and if there is a higher power out there, they’d know that I strove to do the right thing even when I failed. Isn’t that what it’s all about anyway? The choice of doing good or evil? The choice of doing the right or wrong thing? Isn’t that what most religions preach? If you have to brown-nose your way into heaven (or your religion’s equivalent) by being buddy buddy with your deity and worshipping him or her then I could only imagine spending eternity in their domain. No, thank you.