I was not raised in a religious family and I live in a country where less and less emphasis is placed on religion. I wasn’t even christened as a child. My only real exposure to religion is that I went to a Church of England primary school and Religious Education was a required subject at secondary school. I went along with it for my education, but I never really gave it anymore thought than a school subject I had to learn.
Now, if you are a devoutly religious person, you will not hear any snide comment or any attempt to convince you that your faith is wrong from me. Pious individuals take great comfort and support from the importance they place on their faith, and that is absolutely fine, no problem at all. If they are happy in their faith, it is none of my business to try and turn them away from their faith. It is a personal decision and should always be personal. And people’s faith can drive them to great acts of kindness and charity and lead them to do great humanitarian work. But the flip side is also true. It’s none of their business if I decide to live my life without any religiosity at all.
Instead of religious piety, I live my life along the lines of human decency. Some may argue that’s derived from religious teachings. I would have to disagree with that. I believe in respect towards others, and hope to receive respect in return. I believe in all people’s right to express themselves and their opinions, and to question the world around them. And to me, organised religion does not allow for that. The former Pope calling homosexuality a ‘moral evil’, the Catholic Church making aid to people suffering from AIDS in Africa conditional on not using condoms, there are examples of exclusion and intolerance. You are unworthy to enter this other plane of eternal life and joy, a literal paradise, because of who you are. I cannot abide by that.
I suppose ultimately what I would be called is atheist or humanist. I would somewhat agree with the second. But being a atheist is not believing or a God or a Creator. I don’t care if there is or isn’t one. And the reason I say that is that if there isn’t, I can continue to live my life the way I see fit, conducting myself as someone who is respectful to his fellow man and to world around him. A man that holds beliefs and ideals dear, but does not discriminate or alienate or cast aside those who disagree and hold differing views, who instead listens and debates and learns.
And if there is a God or a Creator, I simply hold no respect for them. And I will not spend my life on my knees thanking them. I do not see his value. Because if they are supposed to be all powerful, all seeing, all knowing with the power to forge life itself, they have the capacity to create the perfect world. And they didn’t. They created a world where there is pain and suffering that is not of our own making. Heaven or Paradise or the Elysian Fields should be unnecessary, we should already be there. But we are not. And I’m fine with that. Because I’m here as me, typing this now. And that is the miracle worth celebrating. Not what’s passed through word of mouth and written centuries later and then edited to fit a narrative or world view. The fact that we are here as individuals who can think for themselves, make decisions for themselves is truly remarkable.
You want to see a miracle?
Walk around and look at the people around you.