Aug 23 2004
|on becoming non-religious|
I have spent a lifetime becoming non-religious.
I was brought up in a catholic family. My parents were not particularly devout, but sent me to a catholic elementary school as an affordable alternative to an inner city public school system. I have to say that these were probably the most miserable years of my life; I chafed under the severe discipline and the brainwashing. I was always interested in the reasons and mechanics of things, and as a result, I was constantly in trouble for ASKING QUESTIONS in class. Can you imagine such a thing?
We eventually moved to a suburban district with good public schools. In a middle school civilization class, my teacher described buddhism as a religion based on "fairy tales and bedtime stories." It dawned on me that buddhists probably felt the same way about christianity, if they even cared, so who could say they had the corner on the Truth? I went on to study art history in college, becoming familiar with many of the world's monuments to various religions. The more I thought about the different pantheons and how gods evolve into whatever the society needs them to be, it became clear that people need to feel like someone is in control. Clearly, the average farming peasant has little control over his life, and the idea of a random, coincidental, or chaotic existence is such an anathema that people will create a system of control where none exists.
I was always disturbed by the the idea that only religious people had morals. Before I even knew what secular humanism was, it became my goal to live a respectful, ethical life, even without the threat of supernatural repercussions hanging over my head. I have found this infinitely more fulfilling than pretending some omnipotent entity has nothing better to do than take notes on my day-to-day life.