This entire weekend I’ve been at a church retreat in Arroyo Grande for my second year confirmation class.
It was hell.
For those of you who don’t know, I am an agnostic. I neither believe nor disbelieve there is a “God”, a creator of sorts. Being an agnostic surrounded by fervent Catholics talking about their faith and their love of God and all that made me feel somewhat out of place. That is not to say I don’t like Catholics. I treat people of believes different than my own the same way they treat me, because in the end, we’re all humans composed of the same stuff living on the same planet. But I digress.
The fact that I was an agnostic amongst a group of people who held deeply to the doctrine of the Church, which includes beliefs that the Earth was created with all life forms as is some 6,000 ago over the course of a week by a bearded Wizard in the sky which we cannot prove nor disprove. They also believe this Wizard sent his one and only son down to Earth to die for the sake of our foundation. The logical, rational person inside of me was (and has been) dumbfounded by these beliefs. How can someone be ignorant to the troves of evidence that lifeforms on Earth have evolved over time to adjust to the conditions of their environment? How can someone deny that the universe is 13.798±0.037 billion years and that Earth itself is over 4 billion years old, despite background microwave radiation? These facts have been widely proven and supported by years upon years of research and irrefutable evidence , yet the only foundation that Catholics have for the existence of God is faith. This faith is “supported” by the Bible, a book written thousands of years ago by a bunch of old men. How do they know God exists? Because the Bible said so. How do they know the Bible is true? Because God helped write it. It is this type of circulocutionary logic, coupled with other injustices (such as the treatment of gays, women, and peoples of other faiths) that have led me astray from the faith and made me doubt the existence of God.
This might offend some people, a quite frankly, I don’t care. All my life I’ve had these religious beliefs crammed down my throat in a futile attempt of indoctrination. It’s tie for me to say enough is enough and push back. Even in our modern society, atheists and agnostics are somewhat ostracized. Sure, we are no longer stoned for doubting the existence of God like we once were. But there’s been plenty of times where I’ve told people, my friends even, that I don’t believe in God. Almost immediately, they give me these flabbergasted looks of disbelieve and many have even assumed that I worship Satan, another figure that does not exist. I’m all for respecting other people’s believes, but when they begin to try to indoctrinate me, I have to push back and protect my own beliefs, even if it means disproving theirs.
People shouldn’t be good and do good just for the sake of getting into Heaven, or for the fear of eternal damnation in Hell. People should do good for the sake of helping out fellow man, for the sake of advancing and bettering humanity. Too many people have been killed for holding different beliefs and often times, religious leaders often condone these killings and brutality (such as the Spanish Inquisition, or more recently, Muslim clerics encouraging violence against non-Muslims). We are all human. We all laugh in the same language. We all cry in the same language. For better or for worse, we are all living on the same speck of dust, suspended in utter nothingness. We may be alone in the Universe, we may not be. Either one is a frightening thought. Regardless, we have to make the most of this time on earth, because it is infinitesimally small compared to the time we spent off this Earth. Whether we like it or not, we are all in the same struggle trying to make sense of this crazy adventure that we call life, so we might as well make the most of it while we still can.