Monday, July 17, 2006

God? or not?

My friend T contacted me recently about a previous entry, asking why I didn't believe in god. I figured since I was on the subject, so to speak, I would answer her here.

I guess I could answer by asking why those people who believe in god do so. Just because I don't I guess.

I was born a catholic and I've always thought there was a HUGE gulf between what the church preaches and what it does. For instance, the vow of poverty - but the Catholic church is one of the richest institutions there is - to name just one thing. It was a long drawn out process, years of questions and thinking (yes I DO think once in a while - or I did many many years ago).

I remember the first time the church really fucked with my head was at first confession (before you do your first communion). As a 7 year old (or thereabouts) you have to confess your sins to the guy in black. Now, I ask you, what sins does a 7 year old have to confess? I made some up and then said "I told lies" figuring that would put me in the clear 'cause there was no way the priest would accept my going in and saying - I ain't got nothing to confess dude. And I felt guilty for the longest time, until I realized just how fucked up it is to force a child to do something like that (and I later found out, that most people I know did the same). For the record, I like the protestant way where your sins are between you and God. It makes so much more sense - why would you need an intermediary to talk to the big guy if he's all-knowing and all seeing....

Forced to lie to the respresentative of God on earth to make him happy.... That was the first big dent. And of course there's more, much more.

Of course, I could simply have left the church and still believed.

I think lots of people believe in God because it's a comfort. You know whatever you do, you can be forgiven by someone bigger than yourself, that when you die you'll continue to live on. It makes life easier, I think, to believe there is a higher power taking care. That if you're a good person, you'll eventually get your reward.

I don't believe that. For some reason I find myself incapable of believing it - maybe I'm too rational and it smacks of fairy tales to me. I really couldn't say exactly why it doesn't work for me though (maybe I should do some more thinking on that - or not).

The way I see it, I have a finite number of years on this planet and that's all I get so I better make good use of it. Bugs die, dogs die, fish die and no one thinks they go to heaven, why would it be any different for us? What do we have that they don't that would give us the merit? If you go on goodness - animals are much "gooder" than humans. Animals don't make war on each other, they don't murder. They don't go around devising new and interesting ways to hurt their fellows just for the hell of it (and no, the cat playing with the mouse example doesn't cut it; in the wide realm of animal behaviour it's not much to go on). They do what they have to do to survive, period. That is so not the case for humans.

So yeah, I figure when I die I'll die. End of story. I have X years and I better make them as good as they can be for me and others around me. The reward is just being allowed to live. Obviously, I also do not believe (as I have been told before) that I have no morality if I don't believe in god. I mean, what the fuck is with that attitude? Being told that was just so offensive. I have a strong moral code and I stick to it. Lots of it has a big judeo-christian component (Do unto others... and that kind of stuff) - but I'm not sure if that's so much judeo-christian as it is just plain human, because you find it in most great religions.

Not much of an answer huh?

Of course I could be totally wrong and a vengeful god will send me to hell because of my lack of belief. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.


Hageltoast said...

sweetp, if a vengeful god comes out of the clouds to send you to hell he's sure as anything gonna be sending me there too, so whoever arrives first saves the other a spot so we cqan yack k? In fact, i'm gonna have to take all my handbags just to save seats for friends. ;)

paula said...

Good post, Lil. Yeah...Faith and belief's a toughy. And your poor little seven y/o self having to make up sins so you'd have something to confess! I remember once asking blatantly during a catechism class (age 12 or so), "How do you know there's a God?" I don't recall the answer, but I know it wasn't satisfying. I guess we start early in our need for a sound apologetic!

Also, when reading your segment on pets and animals being "good", I couldn't help but think of this past spring when my little Bobby almost became the third victim in a kitty-killing spree by a pack of loose dogs that came into the back yard. I like to think animals are kind and sweet but apparently they're capable of random acts of evil, too. Sigh.

Hageltoast said...

I think the main difference between animals and people isn't behaviour (some types of chimp engage in raids and warfare very similar to our own) it's understanding, we have a choice of what kind of person to be and how to react or act.