It's been a while since I've talked about religion. And when I say that, I mean it's been a while since I've discussed with another person in depth about the spirituality and complexity involved with the belief and worship of deities- the psychological, spiritual, mental, and physical changes that a religious person would experience that a non-religious person would not.
I'm not going to short-change you here, though. I'm an agnostic who leans heavily to the atheist side of the fence. The more I research, the stronger that lean becomes. And I have never said this blog will be unbiased.
I've never been approached by a nonreligious person and had eternal damnation promised should I not change my ways. I've never had someone who was agnostic or atheist accuse me of committing a crime observed by a cosmic, invisible force, a crime for which I will pay with my soul's eternal suffering.
On the other hand, it's inaccurate to say that religious people do this to me often or to even imply that many of the people I know would suggest such a thing. Coming from a rural area, the percentage of people who are agnostic or atheist is impressively small. Even then, those that are will often conform to their locale's religious beliefs if for no other reason than social and communal conformity. I have refused to do this.
So, in short, I never really had many friends growing up. People who were religiously fervent (in my case, Protestant Christians of various denominations) often didn't take kindly my parodies and jabs at their seemingly ridiculous beliefs.
Imagine my disbelief when I laughingly asked if one of my friends believed that a man lived in a whale for three days and got a solid, unmoving "Yes" in return. Imagine my shock when I asked similarly about the reviving of a three-day old corpse and they replied with the same unflinching "Yes".
Then again, Santa Claus never sat well with me, even before I disproved him in discourse with my parents ("There are millions of homes in the Eastern Time Zone which receive gifts- he literally doesn't have the time to visit EVERYONE. And if he did, he would probably have a heart attack from all of those cookies. And doesn't he age?"). I always viewed the story of Jesus, Moses, and Mohammed with the same general disbelief and humor. Well, it turns out that people are much more serious about those last three than the man in a red suit that delivers presents. They are waiting on a different kind of "deliverance", I guess.
But I guess I was never convinced when I was younger, and therefore it never held to me. Sometimes I wish I could believe what is so generally taken for granted as fact by huge communities of people. I really do wish I could believe that I could think all the answers were in a Bronze Age, desert nomad's book. It would be so easy and so convenient; morality would take no thought, my deeds and misdeeds could have greater purpose, and, best of all, I would never have to die! (Hell, if I pick the right role in the right religion, I might even have some virgins waiting for me in the afterlife.)
...But I suppose that I am unable to take that role. I've never felt like there was some "hole" inside of me that I required God (Retro or Christian), Allah, Buddha, Vishnu, Zen, or Osiris to fill. I am confident when I act, but not because I draw upon faith that what I'm doing is right. Rather, I draw from intellect and experience to move my hand, wisdom and acumen. I live for this life and those people in it. I love and hate, forgive and scorn, laugh and cry. I am not empty nor lonely nor lost. I require no shepherd to guide me, nor no prophet to lead me.
Unless I have some religious epiphany, I am going to live this life much as I do now. I am living the heathen's life, and I am happy and prosperous in doing so.
Now let's hope I'm right about this. Eternal suffering sounds like a huge bummer, man.
Brought to you exclusively by the blessed heathen:
Daniel, of course.