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Saturday, August 4, 2012

Guess what? Religion.

This is one of those subjects where, although people won't admit to themselves they judge others, will have some people make up their mind about me one or two sentences in. I ask you to read this with an open mind. If you're a person of faith, it shouldn't be a problem. If your faith can't be questioned and remain intact, it's not faith to begin with. 

Yes, I'm "going there". I often do. I'm one of those that is often labeled as having lost his faith. I grew up going to church, with about the best bunch of supportive people you could imagine. I chose to be baptized at age 19. That was also when I "lost my way".

I had always been fascinated by science, and now that I was a free man (high school graduate) I didn't have any assigned reading, I got to choose what and how I learned. I learned as much as I could find about quantum theory and astrophysics. Opening my mind to new ways of thinking about existence, a thought kept tugging at the back of my mind. The right words were never there, so i kept plodding along. I read a little about Plato, Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, and Einstein, and that tug finally found the words it needed to sound alarms in my head:

There is little to no place in religion for the Universe. Writings are human-centered, and given what learning was available when writing, why not? But to keep the human-centric nature of existence didn't make sense. Sure, I understand people want comfort in an afterlife. People need to know that if they follow a checklist handed down by some guy on a podium each Sunday, they will live forever, without having to make any tough moral choices themselves. People need to know it's going to be okay.

I don't intend for this post to focus on any one religion. When I say "God", I'm not saying YHWH(Yahweh), Jesus, Buddha, L. Ron Hubbard, or anything specific. God is not a name. Like when you say "Dumbass", it isn't their name - you're saying what they are.

The Universe is huge. All of space-time, dimensions we can't fathom, and we are a minute speck on a minute speck get the idea. What we experience is the smallest fraction of what is in the Universe. So why would any All-knowing, all-seeing God even put that stuff there?

Who knows? First of all, a being that can be aware of every subatomic particle winking in and out of existence from the beginning to the end of time is a being whose thought processes we cannot hope to fathom. Not in the space of an old book that talks a lot about who begat whom, and what to eat on what days, certainly not in the imaginings of a science fiction author. This is a level of thought that we couldn't even begin to define with all the words in all the languages people have or will ever have.

I began to realize religion, from what I've read, is taking these immense, wondrous and often exotic workings, most of which we will never experience in our tiny little pinprick corner of existence, and dumbing it down to fit into a book. Even the book is dumbed down. One bite-sized sermon, often out of context will feed your spirit for a whole week. Let someone else read it to you, tell you what they think it means, and just obey.

That line of thought started to trouble me even more. Worship a God that has brought all this marvelous stuff into existence, but get angry at people who try and learn about it. Also, if you enjoy any of this great gift, you're sinning.

“We are all connected; To each other, biologically
. To the earth, chemically.
 To the rest of the universe atomically.”
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Some of the more alarming products I've seen of the dumbed-down-existence practices, is "Intellegent Design". It is not science. The argument "It's too complex, there has to be something doing it..." or  
"You can't explain it, it has to be God." Is saddening. Neil deGrasse Tyson, of the Hayden Planetarium, said that when you think of God in these terms, God becomes "an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance."

So far, the best I've been able to come up with, as far as God goes is something like this:

God is infinite - everything we can and can't see. God encompasses an infinite existence. We are finite beings. We look from the inside, learning more and more all the time, but as our time is finite and ends, we take our experiences and perceptions from the finite to rejoin the infinite. Even using the term "God" evokes images of someone who is basically a magical human.

I don't even know how much I believe that. It doesn't matter what you believe, believing something, no matter how loudly, won't change what's going on. If there's Karma, or an afterlife, you just wind up looking like a jerk for eternity. Treat people with respect. Grow as a person, and help others grow. Be willing to change what you think to accommodate what you learn.

God's not some creepy old white man in the clouds spending the bulk of his energy telling us what to eat on what days, or campaigning for Republicans. What I believe is God, simply put, is everything. Even referring to it as "God" kind of dumbs it down. There doesn't need to be an agreed-on being. It's not up to us. Believe what you honestly feel is right, out of the positive feelings you get, not out of fear, or hatred, or anything someone tells you makes you any better than anything else.
Since I've lost my way, I've never been more spiritually enlightened. I marvel at existence every day, from the subatomic to the interstellar, there's always more to learn, and then still more to realize that we haven't even begun to question. I've found much more peace in that than could be written in words.

I'm not saying I'm right and you have to accept it, then again, what's true and what's not isn't really up to us, no matter how much we try and say otherwise.