I realized I would have a problem with religion on the day I asked my mom at the age of about 6 or 7, “so, who came first – the cavemen or Adam & Eve?”. My brain didn’t get the fact that these two are basically mutually exclusive. How would I know? I went to a Christian school in Jamaica (St. James Preparatory) where once a week we went to the church across the path from the school and did bible lessons. On Sundays my mom took me to church, where I would be bored outta my mind and later learned I used to sleep and snore.
My mom has that “child of the 60s” mentality where she never forced me to do things I didn’t like (but not to American extremes, a lot of things I had no choice – like schoolwork) and eventually relented when I said I didn’t want to go to church because I felt it was boring. And I still do.
So I still kind of believed in God. I said grace, I prayed every once in a while, but I never made it run my life. I figured God was around but he was not such a meddler where he had a hand in everything I did. I also had the problem that all of these things science continually uncovered were just not alluded to in the bible. Where was evolution, the dinosaurs, ideas of the planet and solar system? The furthest I got in the Bible as a read-thru was Genesis.
In 1995 my mother had a heart attack. Here was this woman who was a hell of a lot more religious than me, who was so good to people her hospital room was filled to the brim and the phone rang of the hook with well-wishers. If God was so friggin’ great, why the hell were there murderers running loose on the street but my mom was going through this intense pain of a bypass in her mid-40s? I remember yelling “Fuck you God, fuck you”. For a while, I thought I was an atheist.
But then clarity hit. And its the philosophy I stayed with. Atheists, to me, are just as bad as the people who run around thumping bibles about their God. None of us know. Nobody (of any reliability) has crossed over, come back, and given us a weather report. If “God” as described in the Christian bible truly exists and is as loving as advertised, there is no way events of the past week and hundreds of others like it could have been allowed to occur. That “God” would not have allowed millions of innocent Jewish people to die in the Holocaust. On the other hand, all the stories of people who should have been in the World Trade Center on Tuesday but weren’t for some damn reason can’t just be coincidence or happenstance. If the universe were random and solely based on self-preservation, why do we all strive to be better? There’s a higher purpose to it, but anyone who claims to know exactly who it is or that it empirically doesn’t exist is off their rocker.
So what’s my religion or belief? Simple. “Binary” some would say. Be Good. Not just for now, or in the hopes of a payoff in the after life. Be Good, because it is the right thing to do.
That’s my take on religion, often labeled as “agnostic” I suppose.