I’ve never really talked about religion on this blog before, at least not directly. But there’s trouble a-brewin’ at ScienceBlogs which has worked more than a few of our ranks into tizzies of knotted panties and carpal tunnel blogging. I figure this is as good a time as any to tackle the topic, since I’ve been pussy-footing around it, well, my whole blog-life (the immense span of 1.5 years!). The issue came up a few days ago when new SciBling Rob Knop wrote a post espousing his position that science and Christianity were not exclusive, what the purpose of religion was, and why he is specifically a Christian. Mike at the Questionable Authority also contributed, noting that ‘natural wonder’ might be defined as ‘spirituality’ for some. Mark Chu-Carroll of Good Math, Bad Math likes to think there’s something more to life than chemical reactions, while Jason at EvolutionBlog believes the key is how you define and more importantly use the word spirituality. And you only have to trot on over to PZ Myer’s blog to see in what esteem he holds those views.
My story is a long and tedious one, filled with angst and dogma and trite enlightenment. However, I might as well get it out of the way now, once and for all.
(Continued beneath the fold……)
Until I went to college in Florida, I spent nearly half my waking life in church or doing some church activity. All my friends went to my church, almost all my social activities were churchy in nature. Wednesday night socials. Sunday school. Choir. Etc, etc. Almost every night of the week, and all day Sunday, I found myself at the First Baptist Chuch in my small town in South Carolina. I saw this as normal, as well as all the things the church leaders said. A literal translation of the Bible. Gays were going to hell…..actually LOTS of people were going to Hell for all sorts of assundry things that weren’t even mentioned in the Good Book. Eventually I started asking questions about dinosaurs, evolution….these questions were discouraged and dismissed. Although there were some wonderful people at my church, and some leaders I still admire to this day, the vast majority were closed-minded and dogmatic. I came to question the hypocritical things I saw in those around me who professed to be Christians. I left for college a very disillusioned Baptist girl who had been told sex was wrong and evil and had been mentally trained to think and live within very narrow mental confines. I left South Carolina and almost all my friends stayed. Stayed there, and stayed the same.
Dude, church is totally bogus.
Fast forward a few years. After receiving a liberal arts education, taking my first evolution class, and meeting some honest-to-god (GASP!) atheists, my entire world-view was crumbling. It was devastating to come face to face with the demise of everything you had built your entire life around. I tried to deny it, but I couldnt’—the evidence was too great. I knew it, but still, I couldn’t let go completely. I so desperatly *wanted* there to be a God, who loved and cared and would reward us with paradise. And for awhile, this desire was enough to drown out that “devil on my shoulder” who was whispering “you know it, you know it, you know it, just accept it.” Finally, I did. I accepted it. And it was such a liberating, free-ing experience that in my mind I always equated it with “waking up from the Matrix.” I took the Red Pill.
Misssster Anderson. Agent Falwell and Agent Dobson would like to ask you a few questions. Then we’ll all hold hands and sing ‘Go Tell it on the Mountain.’
The world looked different, new, changed. I couldn’t measure things or reality or people in the same way. Today was important, not the Everafter. I walked around in awe for months. Then, I went back to South Carolina, and saw all those old people and old thoughts and old dogmas that were as solid as the bedrock of the First Baptist Church. They had not changed, so I pretended I hadn’t either. I so desperatly wanted to give them the “Red Pill” to free them of their fear of Hell and the judgement they felt entitled to pass on others who were different. But I realized that the best thing I could do for them, if I *really* cared for them, was to let them be. They were happy in their delusion, they wanted no perturbation from it. Their happy lie, as I saw it, was preferable to any truth without God. So, I let them be.
The bullets of hate and bigotry are, like, going way…too…fast!
Thing is, I’m not so arrogant anymore as to think I’ve somehow got the answer, and I should wake everyone up out of their Matrix-like dream of religion. I’m happy with my “truth” and am content to let others live their lives as they see fit, if they’ll make the same accomodation for me. Sometimes, they have not and thats sad. But one thing I’ve come to understand is that people can be good or bad in all walks of life, of all races, creeds, sexes, orientations, political beliefs, whatever. To judge someone on one value alone, whether they are happy with one thought or another, is trivializing human interaction and what people are capable of. Just like politics or activism, religion is a topic that brings out the fervor. But its that fervor, when used to pigeon-hole people on either side, which can be as destructive as the perceived threat of different beliefs.
Personally, I don’t care anymore whether you take the Red Pill or the Blue Pill or an aspirin. My life, my decisions, my goals, and my beliefs stay the same, regardless. I’ve spent too many years of my life already sitting in pious judgement for the other team, and I’ve had enough.