Well, it’s finally happened. I guess I’m a fucking atheist. *sigh* Even though I still identify as Catholic, I have finally come to terms with the fact that there is no religion, modern or ancient, that makes any lick of sense to me. Honestly, I’m pretty sad about it. Having been raised Catholic, I was always exposed to the heights of magical thinking as manifested in religion. There was always something so fantastical about it – to believe that there is a man in the sky who loves me, well, that’s pretty amazing! Not believing in god is like not believing in Santa Claus or dinosaurs. It’s a lot more comforting to believe that all these things exist, that there is a sense of order, that somebody magical out there cares. (To clarify: I believe in dinosaurs, but I think it’s really sad and boring when people don’t believe in dinosaurs.) In fact, I’m envious of people who can look at a picture of Jesus on the cross and think, “Yes! That is something that happened two thousand years ago, and it is all about me!”
But to think that way is to shirk the responsibility of living one’s life today. Religion as a social construct is a scape goat for weak people who want to blame all of this on some sort of cosmology. Although, perhaps that’s looking at religion at its worst. At its best, religion builds cathedrals, throws parties, breeds love, builds tradition. Magical thinking is what got us out of the caves and gives us purpose. It’s innately tied to our survival drive – the belief that there is something greater out there is fundamental to human ambition, and what better way to embody that than through ‘god?’
While religion plays an important social role, my rejection of religion – which, by the way, isn’t a rejection of tradition because I’ll go back to mass once the vaccine hits – is just my way of saying, “I am content with my life and my existence.” I have no burning questions, no holes in my heart that can only be filled with the idea of something mystical. The idea of god doesn’t really do anything for me on an emotional level. Especially other people’s idea of god. I just can’t wrap my head around an almighty being that will eagerly cast his so-called ‘children’ into the depths of hell because they didn’t praise him. That’s a very narcissistic and fairly anthropomorphic idea of god – isn’t god supposed to be beyond human folly? If there’s some all knowing, all powerful deity in the sky, wouldn’t that be beyond human conception? To claim to know the will of god is a spiritual oxymoron. I can’t really get behind it. God is merely a social concept that people weaponize against each other on a whim. God is a pedestal from which people look down on those they consider inferior. I have no desire to do that. I have no desire to create rules that govern other people. I have no desire to judge. I have no desire for a god nor any need.
This isn’t about being amoral or immoral, because religion as a social construct – while an apt set of guidelines – doesn’t actually change the majority of humanity’s inclination to amoral or immoral behavior. It merely examines it, chastises it, creates shame, and then abandons people to their own shame. This isn’t about ‘good’ or ‘evil’ or any other false dichotomy. If anything, not believing in god is accepting the uncomfortable gray area. It’s knowing that there is no absolute right and wrong in every situation. There isn’t always a winner in every argument, and to pursue god as a solution to the gray area of morality is to ignore the most human parts of humanity: our duality.
Religion is a scape goat. A tool of denial. A comfort zone. The opiate of the masses. When religion doesn’t serve to build society, to challenge us morally and emotionally, to build community – if religion doesn’t do all of that, it destroys us. Which is why religion must be kept in check. Religion cannot be lauded as an absolute power of good. Religion is – like everything created by man – dualistic, capable of both harm and growth.
In the country where I live today, religion has taken a nasty turn and is the excuse that people use to threaten other people’s liberty. Which is why I reject it. The idea of religion itself has been tarnished by the people who have built it, and I don’t want anything to do with it. This country is a kingdom of faux spirituality, from tarot cards to midnight mass to St. Patrick’s Day to yoga. I reject all of it, from my Catholic roots to the trendy new world of astrology. Yes, we need meaning, yes we need order, yes we need rules. I understand the value in that, but me, personally? I’m cool. I’ll take chaos and emptiness. I’m quite comfortable here. There is nothing for me beyond the world I live in, and that’s why I am choosing to live in this world. Because this is all I have, so I better make it fucking count. If there’s more to all of this, I’ll deal with that when I get there. But for now, I’m just going to watch science fiction movies and read about conspiracy theories – because it’s entertainment, and I don’t confuse entertainment with the meaning of life.
That being said, I’m not mad at the people who do need religion. Because while religion does nothing for me on an emotional level, I am a sucker for tradition and ritual, which is why I’ll still be going to mass after all of this is over. I’m aware that there’s value in me sucking it up and showing up for church because it makes my mom and sister happy, and the happiness of the people I love is the most fulfilling thing I can attain in this life, so I’ll fake it through 45 minutes of off key hymns in a cold, grey church if that’s what it takes.