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She just had to go there, and didn’t like what she heard…

June 18, 2009, 7:54 PM

So I was talking to my mother on the phone today after work, as I do most days. At some point, our discussion had moved toward discussion of Anonymous and its protests against the Church of Scientology. My mother supports Anonymous’ work, and often tries to learn more about it, while explaining to her friends about Scientology’s being a dangerous cult (go Mom!).

But then Mom went a step further. She asked what I thought about atheists. I responded that I thought atheists had their head on straighter than most people, and in the interest of full disclosure, indicated that I considered myself amongst their numbers. I don’t think Mom was expecting that response. I also don’t think that she really wanted to hear that, based on her noticeably more down-sounding tone after that disclosure.

See, here’s my take on religion. If you look at various religions objectively, they all make some very interesting points. However, most if not all believe that their religion is the way to whatever happens after death, whether its a cloudy or warm place after shuffling off the mortal coil, or whether you are going to be reincarnated over and over again until you defeat the load-bearing boss at the end of World 8. And if all of them are proclaiming to be the right way, then I consider it more probable that none of them are right.

Additionally, if one looks at history, one finds that one era’s religion is another era’s mythology. As a child, I learned about Greek mythology, and many of the various fanciful stories therein, presented in such a way to indicate that they were fictional. However, for the ancient Greeks, that was their religion. Many believed that these legends were true, and that the various gods and goddesses actually did exist. However, as much of Europe converted to Christianity in the later stages of the Roman Empire, these became regarded as mythology – fiction. Who’s to say that the ancient religions are any less valid than modern religions? It kind of proves my point, that the truth lies outside of all of these faiths.

Growing up, I didn’t attend church until I was eight years old. While I was given some vague notion of something called “God”, I didn’t really get too deeply into it, other than the going-to-bed ritual that involved saying a prayer. Then at eight, we started attending a Presbyterian church, and I did the whole Christianity thing. I went to Sunday school and church. I attended the mid-week after-school program from third through eighth grade. I went to Vacation Bible School in elementary and middle school. I sang in the church choir in high school, and was a participant in various Presbyterian and Lutheran campus ministry programs throughout college. However, by the time I was a senior in college, I was starting to not buy the whole Christianity thing. I think it really came out when I went on a service trip in 2003. The service work we did was really rewarding, but for the first time in a while, I really saw the religious aspect of it as a drag on the whole thing.

Then when I started working for Wal-Mart, my schedule precluded my going to church. Having some time away from church gave me an opportunity to objectively question my faith. I’d previously learned about “borrowed faith” and “owned faith” in college. Basically, borrowed faith consists of those religious tenets that are taught to you by others, while owned faith consists of religious tenets that you have come to believe in by your own searching. And what I came to realize that my entire belief in the Christian faith was still borrowed faith, and that it was being propped up primarily by having it continuously drilled into me for fourteen years. I couldn’t accept things just on faith alone. For me to truly believe something, it had to be tested and proven, or otherwise demonstrated to be true. “It is because it is” was not acceptable, and “it is because God said it is” was even less acceptable. As a point of reference, this is also about the same time that my politics shifted towards more radical left-wing views.

In realizing that Christianity was no longer for me, I also did some research on other religions, to see if any of them were a better match for me. And despite my best efforts to find the right faith, I found that none of them were something that I could really wrap my mind around and believe in. All the years in church had drilled Christianity into me enough to where I viewed the other faiths as contrary to what I had always known, and couldn’t quite break that hold. But then I had the realization that if the other faiths were not “it”, then Christianity probably wasn’t “it”, either, and so of course none of them would fit me, because I wasn’t buying any of them.

Then I learned of the Black Sea deluge theory, which explains how rising sea levels caused by retreating glaciers caused a massive flooding of previously dry land, considerably expanding the size of the Black Sea. I also soon learned that many cultures had flood stories in their oral traditions, and all of a sudden, the Noah’s Ark story made sense. Of course! It was not the case that some mythical cloud being got upset with how humanity was behaving and decided to destroy civilization, save for two of everything crammed into a ship built and commanded by a man 600 years old. It was a natural disaster. Now mind you, it was a really big natural disaster, but a natural disaster nonetheless. Melting ice sheets caused sea levels to rise, and with all this extra liquid water needing a place to go, it found the lowest route to get somewhere, and this happened to be the Black Sea. If there were settlements along the Black Sea’s ancient coastline, then certainly they were flooded, and people who couldn’t get out of the way fast enough died. With science not yet advanced enough to wrap itself around a natural disaster of monumental proportions, the people presumably tried to explain it as well as they could, assuming that since man certainly couldn’t cause such a phenomenon, a supernatural being must have. Thus the Noah myth, and through centuries of being passed down, the myth has taken its various modern forms.

But unlike the Noah myth, the Black Sea deluge theory is one I can wrap my mind around, because it makes sense, and is evidence-based. Believing that some deity got upset and threw a temper tantrum up in the clouds is merely conjecture, with no hard facts to base it on.

That was basically it for me. The Black Sea deluge theory blew one of the big stories that every child learns in church right out of the water, and reveals it to be a complete fabrication. And if the Noah story is a fabrication, who is to say that all the other stories are factual as well, including the whole Jesus bit?

And what about “God“, the omniscient, omnipresent being that lives up in “heaven”? Let us also not forget that a lot of the attributes that people place on “God” are also placed on Santa Claus. “God” allegedly can always see what you are doing. Santa Claus allegedly watches you, too. “God” determines whether your behavior has earned you the reward of eternal life in heaven, or eternal punishment in hell. Santa Claus also is the sole arbiter of whether your behavior is “good” or “bad”, which determines whether you will get a sleigh full of presents on December 25, or a stocking full of coal. But once your parents consider you to be “old enough”, they let you in on the fact that Santa Claus is not real, but indeed a myth. But wait – this cloud being shares many of the same attributes as Santa Claus, which you have told me to be a fabrication. Is “God” also a myth? Oh, no – he’s real. But what makes one being real while another being with many of the same attributes is not? Ummm… Thought so.

So there you have it. I don’t take a dim view of just Scientology. I also take a dim view of theism in general. Honestly, secular humanism is probably the world view that most closely matches up with what I actually believe.

And for all you religious fundamentalists who want to condemn me to hell for my explanations here, I don’t want to hear it.

Web site: Journal entry #558, when a religious wacko tried to get religious with me at work. In that entry, recall that I said at that time that I didn't think that most people wanted to hear my thoughts on their religion, or religion in general. If you've gotten this far, you've likely read the main body of the entry, so you decide about if you really wanted to know all this or not.

Song: I've had "You are a Pirate" stuck in my head all day...

Quote: Of course, this also explains more fully why I view same-sex marriage as I do. Take the religion out of it, and marriage is simply a legal contract between two individuals that has nothing to do with love, though if these two individuals do love each other, it makes these people more likely to not want to get out of that contract down the road. Houses of worship don't have to have anything to do with these marriages if they don't want to. It's all a legal construct that has nothing to do with love or any religious beings...

Categories: Religion