Sunday, July 06, 2008

Religious Rant, As I Promised

Today is Sunday, therefore I am forcing you to sit down and listen to this religious rant.

Every morning, like most of us here, I drive to work. I have to go pretty fast, as we have staff meetings every morning (please don't ask) and I can't be late. What surprises me, though, is that every morning, on the road, I see a sizable number of people who behave like they don't know where they are, what's going on and which way they're headed. There is your inevitable slow driving in the fast lane. There are the ones who get halfway up the "on" ramp, then slow down to ten miles per hour for no good reason. Then you have the ones who drive in two lanes at once, veer in all directions, change lanes without using their blinker and then immediately change them back, or they might go for the opposite and drive all the way to work with their blinker on. There is the general lack of sense of direction. They more or less know they're on the road, but it looks like they have no idea why or how it happened, or what to do next. Most of these people are, incidentally, on their cell phones, so possibly the phone conversation they're having seems more important to them than paying attention to the road.

I can get around them with no problems; it just raises questions of philosophical nature. Hasn't it ever occurred to you that millions of people go through life without the slightest idea about how they got there, where they're headed and what the end goal of their journey, if any, is? Now none of us have all the answers to that; what bothers me is that the majority of us don't even try. They just cruise along, preoccupied in the current moment.

I don't understand it. To me, the question of "the life, the universe, and everything", the meaning of life if you will, if the most important question a person will ever face. Whatever answer you give to that question is going to determine the rest of your life and the influence you'll have in the lives of others; it will, consciously or not, be the driving force behind every decision you make. And yet a lot of people don't seem to ever try looking for that answer. Basically they fall into two groups, each being my pet peeve.

Pet peeve #1: people accepting their childhood faith as a given.

When you were a kid, you were brought into a church, a temple, a mosque, or, in my case, you weren't brought anywhere. You were given a list of facts that constituted your parents' faith, or, in my case again, you were told that there is no God, end of story. Mind you, those facts were watered down and dumbed down and made into a Sesame Street-type presentation specifically so a small child would understand them. Fast forward forty years, you're still holding on to your Sesame Street list. Some of my acquaintances and relatives are deeply religious people. Most of them are infinitely better people than I ever will be. And yet the slew of ignorant superstitions that sometimes comes out of their mouths, something that they heard from their grandparents way back in the last century and never thought to question, scares me. Scares me why? Because that's what they're passing down to their own children and Sunday school students. I may be sitting next to them in church every Sunday, yet their religion is completely different from mine and they have no idea what it is.

If you are reading that and you were born and raised atheist and still are, I suggest you wipe that shit-eating grin off your face. If your knowledge about how the world operates is still based on "we sent people into space and they didn't see any God", you're no better than the people I've described. You should have done your own research. You didn't. Instead you took at face value what your day care teachers told you back when you still had all of your hair. You need to do better than that.

This peeve of mine also applies to the entire religious right movement.

Pet peeve #2: people rejecting their childhood faith in adolescence as a knee-jerk reaction and never going back to review their decision.

It always struck me as hilarious the way people in the US refer to atheists as independent thinkers, or at least, nonconformists. If you take the vast army of American atheists and remove all those who became ones because Mommy and Daddy used to make them go to church and they hated it, you'll shrink your vast army by roughly sixty percent. If you then proceed to remove from the ranks all those who turned atheists because, when they were teenagers, suddenly nothing their parents said made any sense anymore - and their parents happened to go to church - there goes your other thirty percent. Only one atheist out of ten, in my estimation, is the real deal. Heck, I don't even think my son LilProgrammer is the real deal. Because, if you haven't done your research, then you don't know what the hell you really believe in. And no, teenage rebellion does not count.

Bottom line: one, this question is important, and two, you need to do your own research. If you haven't yet, go and do it now. You will join the ranks of countless thinkers, scientists, philosophers throughout the human history who analyzed the meaning of life to death, because they refused to take it from anyone at face value. You will be in good company.

The results of your research may vary - you may end up believing in Trinity, Krishna, Mother Nature, The Flying Spaghetti Monster, or nothing. But, as long as you own those beliefs, we have a lot in common. Come over for a glass of wine and a game of pool, and I am sure we'll enjoy our conversation about the life, the universe, and everything.

The Goldie has spoken at 2:35 PM

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