Monday, June 18, 2007

How I Lost My Religion

When I was a kid, Mom forced me to go to Sunday school most of the time. I hated it, but I didn’t have much choice in the matter, no matter how much I protested.

Later, when I was 11 or 12, I went to Sunday school on my own, at a different church. It was less than a block away, so I could walk. And all my friends went there. It was fun, because we got to play games and sing fun songs.

I can’t say I learned too much about God or religion in general, but I did give it a try. When my Sunday school teacher was praising the wonders of God’s creation I asked her who created God. She couldn’t answer that. Neither could anyone after her.

I was an inquisitive little preteen. I asked all sorts of questions about the bible that troubled me: How did Noah get all those animals on one boat, especially those like penguins and polar bears that come from opposite ends of the earth? Why would God put an apple tree in the Garden of Eden and then tell Adam not to eat any apples under pain of death?

But despite my inquiries, I believed in God and in Jesus Christ, because I figured my preacher and Sunday school teachers were all smarter than I. I may have been wrong.

The preacher at my little neighborhood church warned all us kids that when we got into high school, they would try to teach us that humans evolved from apes. “Don’t believe it,” he warned us.

Then, a couple of weeks later, my Christian grandmother and my mom were having a discussion about what sort of people had populated the Land of Nod, where one of Adam and Eve’s sons moved to find a wife. God had created Adam and Eve, but the bible didn’t say anything about His creating other populated cities. It was always assumed by my family that Adam and Eve sired the whole human race.

Grandma speculated aloud that perhaps the residents of Nod had evolved from monkeys. I corrected her, because of what my preacher had told me earlier.

But as time went on and I grew into a man, I still believed in God, but religion became less important to me. I didn’t attend church anymore, but I still called myself a Christian when asked.

Later, after my father died, I started attending again. For 10 years straight I hardly missed a Sunday. I went to other church functions, too. I was baptized. And I generally enjoyed myself. But as I look back, I can now admit I enjoyed going to church for the wrong reasons. I enjoyed the building, the people, the social hour, the food, even some of the hymns we sang.

But, try as I might, I didn’t really feel all that religious. After I was baptized, all I felt was wet. Something was still missing.

I have come to the realization that what was missing was never there in the first place. I have discovered the bible is chock full of obvious contradictions and errors. And I finally realized that the only reason people know that the bible is the word of God is because the bible says it is. It is the epitome of circular reasoning.

I realize that if God wanted us to have a religion, he would pick one for us and make sure we all knew which one it was. Simply quoting the bible is not sufficient, because if it were, there would not be so many denominations of Christians. The Koran is no different for Muslims. The Torah is no different for Jews.

But that’s not to put down anyone who lives by their religion as long as they don’t use it to harm others. Some do, but the list is far too long to enumerate all the ways religion can harm things in this column. I’ll only mention one way: Pat Robertson.

As for me, I’ll pick reason and logic to live by. If God is the creator of the universal laws of nature, then he is nothing if not reasonable and logical.

1 comment:

Nick O'Malley said...

"Who created God?" is a good question. Here is another, "In the beginning of time, what happened the second before?"