Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery
Sunday, August 13, 2006
What a Friend We Have in Agnosticism
I've written before here about my lack of religious beliefs. I'm way too fucking lazy at 11:00 PM to dig through my archives and find the exact posts, so you'll have to take it on faith (oh! the puns!) that I have, indeed, raised this topic before. And also that it was amazingly witty. So, if I'm repeating myself a lot today, writing the same crap about beliefs that you've read before, I have to apologize.
I've been thinking about it a whole lot today. That's partly because of some yelling at the television I did earlier. I was watching Morgan Spurlock's excellent 30 Days, specifically an episode I hadn't seen before wherein a Kansas atheist goes and lives with a family of Christians for the titular period of time.
The Christians seemed like nice enough folk, although I was baffled, as usual, at how anybody can listen to Christian rock and not want to slice their own ears off with a Ginsu. There were the usual Christian vs Atheist problems. Some of the atheists on the show felt a bit persecuted (they live in Texas, so...there you go) and complained that they were constantly having Christianity shoved down their throats. Some of the Christians put forth prostelytizing as a big part of their faith, which means that they're not doing their job if they're not telling non-believers that they need to get with God's program. (Or pogrom. Whichever.)
What disturbed me most, though, was the husband in the Christian family's inability to understand how on earth one could have a set of morals by which to live if you don't have it spelled out for you in some sort of holy book. This is where the yelling at the television came in.
Why in the name of Don Knotts does anybody have to have everything fucking written down for them? It doesn't take an all-powerful fucking cosmic being to tell me how to be a moral and ethical person. I don't need a benevolent sky-king to command me to treat people how I want to be treated; it's common fucking sense.
But the Christians on the program could not understand how a person could live a moral life without a concrete doctrine. And that bugs the piss out of me.
But it also got me thinking about what I believe, which is basically that it's unspeakably arrogant of any one group, after thousands and thousands of years of human history, to suddenly say, "Yeah, you remember all of those other guys that came before, with their pantheons and their sun-worshipping and all that? Well, they were wrong and we're right. We can all stop looking now, 'cause we've got the one way. And you're going to hell." It's just such fucking nonsense.
Sorry, that's not right, either. It's not right for me to say to a Christian, "You and your brimstone-throwing, ark-commanding cloud-dweller are fucking stupid." It would be just as arrogant of me to say that I've got it exactly right. Intellectually, I cannot believe in a God, but that doesn't negate the comfort and direction that religion provides for millions of people.
And there are times when it would be so very, very nice to be able to drop to my knees and pray. To have the faith to ask God to help me with something and to actually think it would work. I don't have that, though. And I'm actually glad about that most of the time. I like having the freedom of not being locked in a particular dogma that's dictated to me by a church official with a vested interest in spreading the Word as he/she sees it.
So what the hell can I do since I can't pray? I can believe that, although there is no sentient being who controls all of existence, there is an energy that's larger than us of which we are all part. And I can believe that that energy can give us strength without believing that the strength is coming from a giant dude in a robe and white beard. And I can be positive in my thoughts, knowing that, even if the worst happens, I haven't made myself absolutely miserable until it does.
And by the way, if I'm ever proven wrong about the existence/lack of existence of God, then He's going to have to answer for Hurricane Katrina, the Bush presidency and The Simple Life. "Holy Father, you got some 'splaining to do!"