Maggie, at From Cave Walls, and Lauren, at LSS Attitude of Gratitude, alternate hosting Throwback Thursday. The idea of the prompt is for them to give us a topic and for us to write a post in which we share our own memories or experiences about the given topic. This week, Lauren chose the topic of “the impact of religion.”
Well, this should be interesting, given that I’m an atheist, but let’s give it a go. Anyway. Lauren wants to know…
- Did your family attend services together?
- Did you attend weekly, more than once a week, only on specific holidays, or some other designated time frame?
- Was everyone of the same thought as to what faith to follow?
- Did you have friends specifically from church/synagogue/ temple/ mosque, etc.?
- Did your family practice religious ceremonies at home?
- If you chose to depart from what your family believed (and feel like sharing) why did you do so?
I started to craft an answer to each of Lauren’s questions as asked, but then I decided that doing so didn’t really make a lot of sense for me, an atheist. Yes, I went to church (with my mother and my two older sisters), to synagogue (with my father), and to Sunday school as a kid. I appreciated all the great Bible stories, but I just couldn’t think of them as anything more that very imaginative and highly entertaining stories. They are great fiction. That did not please my parents at all, although by the time I was a teen they pretty much wrote me off as a lost cause when it came to embracing their faith.
I could not fathom how anybody could believe that what was written in the Bible — written by many different men hundreds of years after the virgin birth and crucifixion of the alleged son of God — as being the “gospel” truth of what actually took place 2,000 years ago. And the religious rituals seemed totally ridiculous to me.
The fact that Christians didn’t like me because I was half Jewish and Jews didn’t like me because I was half Christian didn’t help me embrace either religion. Organized religion seemed to foster divisions between people of different faiths, rather than attempt to bring us all together as human beings who theoretically prayed to the same God, only in different ways and in different languages. And even for those who shared the same overarching religious beliefs, many were designated as the “other” based which version of the Bible they read or on the color of their skins.
Yet for a long time I wanted to believe that, despite all that, some sort of god did exist. But then I thought about all the lives lost and the atrocities committed throughout human history in the name of God. I read about the Crusades, the Inquisition, slavery, the Holocaust. How many people were persecuted, hunted down, and murdered, not because they didn’t believe in and celebrate God, but because of the way they believed in and celebrated God? How could an all knowing, all powerful, ever present creator permit all of his children — supposedly created in his image — to behave in such a destructive manner?
I had my epiphany that God didn’t create humans in his image. Humans created God in their image. God became our answer to unanswerable questions, an explanation for the unknowable. That’s when I knew that God is a fiction.
And as we continue to destroy our planet, to fight wars, to judge and harm our fellow human beings based upon the color of their skin, their religious beliefs and practices, their gender, or the place of their birth, I am more convince than ever before that God is a contrivance designed to control the masses while the precious few gain immeasurable fortunes from the tithings of their flocks.
So when it comes to my personal perspective on Lauren’s question about the “impact of religion,” it’s very negative. But hey, that’s me. For those of you who are true believers in whatever god it is that you worship in whatever way you worship him (or her), well, all I have to say is “whatever floats your boat.” Just as long as you don’t try to sink my boat because it’s not the same as yours.
Sorry for this rather long and perhaps whiney rant.