“You’re doing it wrong!”

[Note: For best results, the title of this post should be read in a whiny, childish voice.]

I consider myself quite lucky; I realized at a young age (pre-teen) that modern religions and gods are as ridiculous and unlikely as the Greek, Roman, and other myths and gods we learned about in school. It was clear to me that modern religions had been created for the same reason as the ancient ones – to provide explanations about things we did not yet understand.¹ I stopped going to church then, and I have never looked back. The rest of my family was not so lucky, however, and I have seen them struggle with their beliefs on and off throughout the years.

I was lucky in another way, too. Realizing the truth about religion led me to critical thinking, science, rationality, and skepticism, all of which have shown me that the universe is natural and normal² as opposed to supernatural and paranormal. There are no gods or ghosts, no devils or demons, no psychics or mind readers,  no way to tell the future by consulting cards or a crystal ball, no afterlife, no alien abductions, no  energy fields that can be manipulated by reiki, acupuncture, chiropractic, or similar dubious medical practices. And that’s just a short list of the things I’ve discovered. If you think that denying the existence of so many things takes the wonder out of life, you haven’t looked at any Hubble images, watched the butterflies in your garden, or read a science book lately.

I wish there were some way for me to let the members of my family (and other “believers”) get just a small taste of the peace of mind I’ve experienced from not having to live with the cognitive dissonance created by religious beliefs or the claims of the supernatural, paranormal, and pseudosciences. It’s nice not having to compartmentalize my world into “evidenced-based reality” and “stuff that makes me feel good but lacks evidence.”

The truth is, evidence-based reality is the thing that makes me feel good. I don’t have to worry about pleasing some invisible sky-daddy to save me from eternal torment, or worry that he/she/it is testing me, or “struggle with my faith,” “rediscover my Christianity,” or “return to Buddhism.” I’m nice to people (and non-human animals) because I like to be nice, not because I think it will get me brownie points with the sky-daddy or get me into some kind of happy-place after I die. It makes me feel good to be nice. I realize this is because I’m a social animal whose brain is wired to make it feel nice to be nice to others, yet that doesn’t take away from the experience.

But I digress from the point of this post. A bit of back story before I get to that point:

My sister has apparently embarked on a journey to “rediscover her Christianity.” (With well over 30,000 Christian denominations in the world, I don’t envy her this task – which one is the True Way™?) Meanwhile, my father has apparently been lured into the belief that we are in the “end times” (I wonder if he realizes how many times we’ve been in the “end times” according to some religion or another), and he believes that all Christian religions have been taken over by the devil.

These two viewpoints clashed recently, and my sister wrote about it in her blog Looking Towards the Light.

So here we have two mature adults (one a grandmother, one a great-grandfather) – people I love and care about – both burdened by the delusions of religion. My Christian sister is going through some hard times and seems to be looking for answers by “drawing near to god again,” and my Christian father is telling her she’s doing it wrong!

To me, it’s like watching two young children play some made-up game; one of them doesn’t like how the other one is playing, so he whines, “You’re doing it wrong!”

Or it’s like one kid doesn’t get what she wants for Christmas, so her friend says, “You sent your ‘Dear Santa’ letter to the wrong address.”

From a darker view, it’s like watching the current worldwide conflict between the Muslims and the Christians. Each side says they’re worshiping the sky-daddy (Allah/God) the right way, and the other side has it all wrong.

This, to me, is terrifying. These two adults are basically in a disagreement over whose version of a particular superstition is the most valid! If there really were an all-powerful, universe-creating being out there, don’t you think he/she/it would be able to make it clear how he/she/it wants to be worshiped?³ Instead, we have different versions of the “inerrant” word of god represented in the dozens of versions of the different so-called “holy books” that exist. Each of these “holy books” is then interpreted by people in whatever way fits into what they want to believe or how they want other people to act.

Before all of this happened, I tried to tell myself that religion was tolerable (as long as you don’t push your religious views on me); after all, religion gives people comfort and makes them feel good – even if it is based on false premises and false promises. But now I see that this “comforting” superstition is not only dangerous on a worldwide scale due to the conflict of the major religions, but it can exact a very personal price, as well.

Today, I hate religion. Maybe one day I’ll go back to being tolerant of it.

_______________________________

¹ As I grew older and studied more about religion, I realized that myths and gods, both ancient and modern, had also been created to control people’s lives.

² Assuming one can call some of the wonders of the universe – like quantum physics – “normal.”

³ Why an all-powerful, universe-creating being would be so egotistical or have such low self-esteem that he/she/it needs to be worshiped is something I’ve never had anyone – religious or otherwise – explain to me.

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