My decision to forgo religion in my life has come about from the same process as my decisions to be pro-evolution and (generally) anti-paranormal.
I was raised in a moderate, church-going family where I learned about religion and the Bible before I knew anything about alternative philosophies and views of the world. I learned about Genesis and stored it away, not really needing any deeper meaning until college.
I read and believed lots of first hand accounts of ghosts, UFOs and Bigfoot in popular books. These were all interesting stories delivered to me with certitude.
I credit Stephen Jay Gould’s books with turning on the light in my brain. He could take something that appeared straightforward (to me) and peel away the surface to reveal hidden agendas, misguided thinking and really baseless assumptions. The seed of doubt was planted and it grew heartily. The view of the world and everything in it changed for me. I can’t imagine how little I would understand of nature and my place in it if I had continued to utilize only those childhood stories.
While many start out the same way as I did, with Sunday school and only basic science education, it’s obvious that not many people go on to investigate what we know and how we know it. I waivered back and forth, like a pendulum, swinging between belief and unbelief in religion and paranormal phenomena. I am now at a place with which I am comfortable. It’s OK to say “I don’t know.” I am becoming secure in my reasoning and feel content with my personal values and ethics. Evidence guides my decisions. I am not credulous. You are likely not telling me the whole truth.
In order to understand and truly appreciate, life – mine and others – I do not need the concept of a personal god or explanations outside of the realm of human knowledge. I certainly do not need the catch-all, irrefutable hypotheses such as “God did it”, it was “God’s will” or that it is beyond human understanding or intelligence.
Even if you are a religious person, you must respect that science and reason have gotten us far in this world. Science is our best method of finding things out. It may not be perfect but, like Democracy, it appears to be the best method we’ve got. In both, it is best to keep religion out of the equation.
That’s why I recently wrote my congressmen loudly voicing my disgust over the current administration’s frequent acts of white-washing scientific reports and censoring governmental scientists because the facts led them to conclusions that are distasteful to the Republican agenda. From birth control methods to global warming, natural resource reserves to endangered species – this administration is completely devoid of reason and integrity. Instead, it appears they believe that humans have every right to plunder the earth. It’s ordained by God! Their faith is of utmost importance.
That’s despicable and entirely un-American. I am livid. How dare they judge themselves superior and privileged over other peoples and cultures and over all other life on the planet. They take no personal responsibility. They only take more money and power. If their god thinks that’s OK, that god doesn’t deserve worship from me.
I don’t feel like hedging my bets and believing in a god just because it couldn’t hurt. It can hurt. If you live your life thinking you must first serve a higher being rather than the greater good of your fellow humans and animals, you fail to adequately respect and serve those of the present and completely disregard prospects for the future. You fail to be a responsible human being. You fail.
Mr. President, you fail.