Thursday, May 5, 2011

I am what I am: religious edition: introduction

A couple days ago I put the finishing touches to my manuscript, attached a cover and published my works to e-reader markets. In the process of doing it, I happened to put in a dedication to the people who really pressed the creation of my story the most. One of them was thanked for provoking me into debates. That woman passed away a couple years ago and I find myself thinking about her right now and realizing I need to address this topic.

It's time to talk about God.



This is a post that's been coming for a while. Back around New Years I was invited by a religious blogger to come and follow him on his sermons. I did not respond positively to this. Mind you, I'm not against religious people, but I have a history with being preached to that makes it apparent the poor man didn't realize who he was talking to.
When I started the blog, and to this day really, a constant voice has told me to just stay away from religion. She's never quite made it apparent why, but there's been an undercurrent from her that I should never touch it. But when I think about me, who I am and the fact I'm likely going to write stories for a very long time, I know this will eventually need to be addressed. It's not that I'm going out to pick a fight or start problems, but rather that I know I'm never going to get away from it. My sister is an avid Christian, as is most of my father's family and my mother. To the one that thinks I put too much focus on religion, I don't think she understands how constant the force is in my personal life. I cannot even log onto Facebook without seeing references to it and requests for prayer.

So, I've endeavored to finish I am what I am with only two entries. Though, mind you, this entry here is going to be several parts long. I can understand some of my friend's fears of coming out about certain things and causing friction with the world around me. But I also know that I can't get away with ducking it forever. I shouldn't go out of my way to start a fight though, so this is the last time I'll even be mentioning this topic from here on. But I still have to go through with it. So here we go, down into the rabbit hole.

Hopefully by the time I get a lot of traffic to this blog it'll be buried under more interesting topics.

Religion


When I was a child there was a woman who believed that it was her mission to bring children into her religion. It was a mission she took with her heart in the right place. But when she came to me and realized that my major loves in life were:

Astronomy




Dinosaurs




And Robots




...she took offense to it.

I'm not sure why exactly she felt that way, but I know that she devoted my formative years to challenging me at every turn and telling me the things I loved were just fairy tales. In essence, I wasn't denying her religion, she was denying my inquisitiveness. In her opinion all of life's answers were in the bible and any answer that you got from anywhere else wasn't even to be considered. Ironically, she tended to corner me for these lectures on road trips. So there she was, telling me physics was bogus while... driving a car.



She drew a line in the sand on those trips. She drew a line in the sand my whole life, even to the point of excluding me in activities while inviting my sister because I wasn't relenting to her will. She informed me that I needed to either be for science or for religion and I couldn't be both. So I picked to be... for science!



Now, that's not to say that I've completely expelled the notion of a power beyond my understanding, quite the contrary, as an agnostic atheist I believe that if there is an answer out there on the subject, we can find it through science. If there is a higher power, we're going to figure it out, and if there isn't, we're going to figure that out too. But a literal interpretation of the bible doesn't mesh with the world that I see around me. So either it's not meant to be taken literal (as in, metaphor) or it is simply wrong. Unfortunately for her, she took it literally and wanted me to do the same. Oops.

This didn't end with my childhood. Even the last time we spoke face to face before she died was a debate about the nature of the universe. She wanted me to accept the world was 6000 years old and I wanted to prove to her the universe was billions of years old. I won. But along the way I tried to convince her that science and religion didn't have to be mutually exclusive. As many scientists can tell you, they don't care what the answer is so long as they actually get one. Sometimes the answers you don't expect are the ones most exciting.

Her response to this? "Someday you will have to decide and take a stand."

And to her, the last words I really said to her face to face...



"I think I just did."

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