Sunday, May 31, 2009

Deny Your Maker


It's a well-known fact that I'm not a religious person. At all. What I've never gotten into is why I am this way. Well, the answer is simple, but it might also be a bit unbelievable, given what I'm about to tell you.

I have questioned God since the age of six.

Yep. Six. See, supposedly, I'm smart. Like scary smart. The last time I had my IQ checked legit, it came back 146. One of those internet IQ tests spat out a 142, which isn't that far off given how wildly inaccurate they are. That's the number I display on my MySpace page.

Back then, I understood alot of the concepts of life that most parents try to hide from their children as long as possible these days. By six, I could read quite well, and with my dad being a physical therapist, he had alot of basic medical and biology books in his collection.

It was in this way that I learned the nature and purpose of the act of putting on some Barry White and making sweet love down by the fire all night long to a woman you love. Awwwww, yeah!

Armed with the knowledge of where babies come from, I began to compare it to what I was hearing in Sunday School class. You see, my parents - devout Evangelical Lutherans, sadly - thought, like all other misguided souls bound to the cross, that God was the way, the truth, and the light for me. Therefore, I spent alot of time in the basement of the Faith United Lutheran Church here in Houtzdale.

There, a kind old women named Katherine taught me about the story of the nativity, the supposed devine conception and birth of one Joshua of Nazereth, who's name has been perverted over time to be phonetically spelt JEE-zus. I also learned about the 10 Commandments: God's 10 big rules to follow, and are not to be broken, lest your soul be damned to something and such nonsense.

Now, stop me if I'm wrong, but the alleged events surrounding Joshua's birth themselves violate the 10 Commandments, specifically two:

Thou shalt not commit adultry.

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife.
"How," you ask, "could this possibly be so? How could the Divine Maker have violated his own laws?"

Quite simple really, all explained by rational, scientific historical study. In fact, part of this real, rational, scientific historcal study proves other nifty things, like Joshua's status as a bachelor! But I digress - here's where this kicks in.

Adultry is defined as one spouse cheating on another, or the act of being with another person's spouse.

Now, I don't care how you dress it up, how you word it, how you picture it. If someone gets pregnant, there's some sort of fucking going on there. So, God fucked Joseph's spouse, supposedly resulting in her pregnancy with Joshua.

"But hold on," you say, "Mary and Joseph weren't actually married! They were just companions!"

Sorry, but you're quite wrong again. Here comes the science:

You see, marriage as we know it today, while ages old, isn't exclusive to the realm of the big religions. Pagan rituals included coupling rites, predating Christianity. Ouch, I know, they don't like that, do they. But yes, things pre-date Christianity. And Judeism. And Islam. This is why Fundies should quit crying about gay marriage.

The word "companion," back then, was used quite widely as a term equal to spouse, husband, wife, whatever. While an official ceremony - which you blindly think is necessary - may not have happened, it was recognized that Mary was the companion - and therefore spouse - of Joseph.

So yeah, that brings us to point of contention #2: God supposedly chose Mary - whom in his divine all-knowingship MUST have known that Mary was Joseph's spouse - to carry his supposed son.

In other words, he coveted someone else's wife. And since God is supposedly everywhere, he would, in fact, be Joseph's neighbor, thus literally and figuratively violating the ever-loving heck out of that commandment.

Even in my six year old mind, this created a paradox: How can a God impose his laws on people, and yet not himself follow these same laws, thus leading by example? How can it be "Do as I say, not as I do?" How can I be expected to follow the example of a God who willfully violates his own simple rules, yet at the same time be expected to not violate them, lest I be damned?

Does not compute. Even to a six year old.

Afterwards, as I grew older, they exposed us to the more violent parts of the bible: The plagues visited upon Egypt (I thought you were supposed to love thy neighbor as thyself), the smiting of Sodom and Gommorah (I thought God said "Thou shalt not kill?"), the great flood that supposedly drowned the entire Earth, again showing no love to their sinful neighbors and killing a whole bunch, even thou he ought shalt not to. Or something.

I found myself with more questions than answers. And then, it hit me: That's what it's all about. That's how it works. It's a crutch. It's easy answers to questions that don't have any, presented in a frightful and totalitarian manner as to elicit the submission of the masses, get them all thinking on one page, and then exploiting it for finincial gain and power.

God will love you, but don't piss him off or he'll wipe you and your whole sick sinning family of the face of the Earth. But don't worry, if you're a good little sheep, he'll be a nice God and only kill the Bad People. But he doesn't want you to kill the bad people, no no. That's a sin.

Feel safe, but be very afraid. Be comforted in times of need, but be afraid.

It's a sham. A ruse. It plays on people's fear of the unknown, giving them false hope and false comfort. It's the world's oldest form of scoial engineering.

Obviously, I was a voracious reader as a kid. And thankfully, I wasn't limited to medical journals. No, I too had my share of literary classics, works of fantasy and sci-fi and historical fiction and all kinds of myths and legends.

Now, there's two interesting words: Myths and Legends. It seems that we, as a supposedly Christian society, have managed to classify certain things as being in the realm of whimsy and unbelievabilty! Imagine that!

Now, if I walked into a church and said I believed in Faeries and started clapping my hands and what not, everyone in that congregation would think I was a loony! "How silly," they'd say, "things like gnomes and faeries and the like don't even exist!" In fact, I'm pretty sure they'd have me put away.

And yet, invisible bearded men in the sky? People with wings who sing a whole bunch and live in the clouds? The dead coming back to life and achieving near-earth orbit? An evil bodybuilder with a goat's head presiding over a pit of fire and flames that exists right beneath our feet?

"Yeah, fine, come on in, we'd love to talk about it with you!"

And Christians wonder why we of the secular humanist community call them hypocrates. How can you excuse one piece of fiction as such, and yet glorify another as if it were absolute fact and truth? How can you disbelieve one fantasy, yet believe another? You simply can't have it both ways.

Myths, legends, and Bible storys all share common elements: they're all well beyond the realm of obvious reality. I just can't jibe with buying one piece of fiction and laughing the other off as whimsy. Truth is, they're both whimsy. Neither has any basis in reality.

By the time I was eight, I was demanding that my parents quit making me go to church. I was sure by then that I didn't believe in God, or Satan, or any of that rot and rubbish. It was as goofy as Sirens in a Homeric Epic, and I wasn't buying it anymore. And yet, they told me that I would have to continue to go "until you're a confirmed member of the church."

Now, by confirmed member of the church they mean thus: As was the tradition when the human life expectancy was nowhere near what it is today, people had to grow up faster. 13 was the norm back then. By then, a human child has either been through or is going through puberty, and is thus able to reproduce. Medical science being crap back then, the younger a human produced offspring, the better the chance of survival for all involved.

As is with the Jewish Bar Mitzva, Evangelical Lutheran Confirmation - both the acts of becoming an adult in the church's eyes - began when I reached the appropriate age, and I knew what I had to do.

And so, swallowing my pride and my convictions, I did everything I possibly could to make my youth leaders and pastors happy, to the point where they would ensure my confirmation as an "adult" in their little club. I memorized Bible verses. I even memorized the books of both testements, in order. Jump through the hoop and you'll get a treat.

Only the treat for me came the day I was confirmed. There, before the whole congregation, my parents beamed as I became an adult in the church. And as soon as I was handed my certificate and the ceremony declared over, I promptly turned their beaming into disappointment as I walked out of the church, laughing, never to return.

Since that day, I have professed my adamant secular humanism. Call it Atheism, call it Agnosticism, call it me being a dirty, hell-bound heathen, I don't fucking care.

What I call it is freedom. Freedom from having my mind clouded by doctrine based on fiction. Free from having my mind tainted by the hate and rhetoric spouted by the leaders of the fallacy. Freedom to see the world the way I choose, and ground that view in reality.

Freedom to be a human being who does something with the time he's given now, not worry about what happens after I've died.

I'm not concerned with being immortal. If my name lives on, so be it. But I don't have to please any invisible man in order to feel better about death. Sure, I'm afraid. But I've accepted the reality of it all.

You know. One less thing, right? I've got enough problems as it is. Religion is one that I clearly do not need. That's why I am the way I am. That's my story. One voice among a growing number of voices who are rejecting the ghosts and leftovers of our primitive past and ready to face the future unbiased and full of hope: Hope for humanity.

But apparently, all this makes me some sort of sub-human. Way to love your neighbor, Christianity...


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