Thursday, January 14, 2016

Why and Because

I am constantly asking questions to which no one seems to have what I consider to be a logical answer.

“Why” is, even to a child, a very logical question, and my agnosticism stems directly from the dearth of acceptable “becauses” I received to them in Sundayschool. Most of the things I was told there struck me, even then, as totally illogical, and they still do. I have always been willing to accept many things on faith, draw the line at mindless acceptance.

My parents were not particularly religious, but my mom thought it would be good for me to be sent off to Sunday school each week. I attended, as I recall, an evangelical church of some kind, and it was not a match made in Heaven. The minister and congregation were of the “we are but dirt beneath God’s feet” school, and that concept alone totally alienated me. If God created me in His image, how could I be dirt under His feet? Even in the days before computers, it did not compute. If God is Love, how was it that so many of the people who presumed to speak in His name taught—and teach—hatred and intolerance?

I was constantly reminded of Al Capp’s “Li’l Abner,” in which a group called the Lily-Whiters had a marvelous theme song: “We are the Lily-Whiters, brave and pure and strong! We are the Always-Righters; everyone else is wrong.” That pretty much summed up organized religion for me.

The fork in the road, for me, occurred one Sunday, after the usual scaring-the-hell-out-of-everyone (literally) lesson on the evils of just about everything, and on the fires of hell which were lapping at our feet every second of our existence. The teacher went on to contrast this with the glories of Heaven, in which there was never, ever, a single problem or an instant of sadness.

I made the mistake of asking the teacher what I thought was a perfectly logical question: if my best friend somehow goes to hell and I somehow go to Heaven, won’t I miss him and be sad because he isn’t there with me? The question was greeted with a deer-in-the-headlights stunned silence quickly followed by an out of hand dismissal. That was clearly the end of my formal religious instruction.

I’ve often wondered how they would have reacted had they known I was gay?

So the church and I parted ways with a mutual sense of relief and I have never willingly entered a church since. (When I do, for funerals or weddings, I am intensely uncomfortable.)

I have no quarrel with those who truly find comfort in organized religion, but I believe (and we are talking here about beliefs) with all my heart and soul…and, yes, I do believe I have a soul…that if everyone were simply to live by the Golden Rule, there would be no need for the Lily-Whiters of organized religion. We could all gather on Sunday morning to socialize and address questions of how to deal with the very real problems confronting mankind: hunger and disease and poverty and rampant social injustice. We should and could concentrate our energies on improving the world in which we are living rather than chasing a dangled carrot of what might come after.

I’ve never been able to comprehend how normally intelligent people so readily accept illogic on the basis of “faith.” Maybe, again that’s one of the reasons I’m agnostic…I just can’t do it. The same people who readily understand that laws of the physical universe prevent pigs from flying totally accept without question the proposition that Jesus ascended bodily into Heaven. I’m really sorry, but the word “faith” utterly dismisses logic.

It is not easy to think for one’s self, and my main problem with organized religion is that it assumes this responsibility. (“Oh, don’t bother yourself with those niggling little ‘why’s’…here’s what you think:….”)

Faith and logic can find a comfortable balance, the fulcrum of which is the simple word “why?” We should all use that word more often.
------This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from Untreed Reads and Amazon; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/Audible:

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