I was brought up in a lovely, Christian fashion, with a Methodist set of Grandparents on one side and an Anglican set on the other, but it was pretty soon when I started to question the existence of God. I simply could not see how an all loving, all powerful, all knowing god could inflict hurricanes, mosquitoes and adolescence on his wonderful creations.
Now, I am sure that having a pretty cruel (but undoubtedly funny) sense of humour is not the widely accepted answer to this, so I have pursued answers from assorted Christians. I have been told that humanity falling to sin has unbalanced the world (causing earthquakes), that everything has good aspects (like mosquitoes), that God feels the need to test or punish us (hence adolescence) and most of all he’s big and powerful and always right. Basically, don’t question too hard, because it’s impossible that our puny human minds could comprehend the majesty of the Lord’s ineffable plan (praise be!).
However, arguments that require you to believe in them in the first place aren’t entirely convincing.Why would God create a world that was so easily messed up? Why would God create us with such a potential for disaster (free will or no)? Why would God, who is meant to be all loving and all forgiving, want to test or punish us? Is he a massive sicko? It’s difficult to simply persuade me that God’s ineffable by telling me that God’s ineffable.
What’s more, the foundation of faith itself is fundamentally flawed: why believe at all? I have been told time and time again (by evangelists) that there is firm evidence for God, but they don’t seem to understand that if it was firm enough to be fact they wouldn’t have to believe in a God. It would be a universally accepted scientific fact. Then there is the argument that faith is worthless if the believers know that God exists. Now, apart from the obvious point on how depressingly needy that makes our Heavenly Father sound, there is the small matter of “why believe in the first place”. Because of a book? Because your parents did? I know this sounds awful but I honestly cannot find Christianity or Islam any more logical or convincing than Ancient Greek Mythology or Unicorns. I’m sure with concerted effort they too can be justified in a pseudo-scientific sense, the most inconvenient stories described as metaphors.
I’m not saying religion is necessarily a bad thing. Far from it, it can make many people very happy, give people a reason to live, and justify morality in a way pure logic sometimes can not. I’m not saying that religious people are stupid. Like humanity as a whole, many are exceptionally clever (though like humanity as a whole most are exceptionally stupid). However, the way people’s beliefs are treated as sacred (apologies), as somehow separate to standard philosophy and science is wrong. The matter of religion is fought on a very different field to any other source of debate, and that needs to be changed. By all means believe what you like, Jedi or Judaism, but if you’re going to try to convince someone else you’re right and they’re wrong, make damn sure that your argument is irrefutable.
I think it is that sort of attitude that really throws me off on religion. The arguments can be made for and against, and no one really gets anywhere because religion is seen as a subjective thing. In my eyes I don’t see how that is possible. It is not an opinion that gravity works, it is an observation. It is not an opinion that evolution happens, it is an almost universally accepted, peer-reviewed theory with enormous evidence and scientific backing. However, if more evidence or observations came that countered them, new theories would need to be written. That is the scientific process. If religion had a basis in fact, it would be observed under a scientific process, and a conclusion could be brought.
Probably not going to happen though. Here’s hoping I don’t burst into flames soon.