To me, God and religion in general have no place in the world more than Harry Potter, Greek mythology or Thor’s mighty hammer. They’re cultural stories, guidelines, threats and rules for how to live, all of which belong to an old society and our entertained imagination.
I’m of Assyrian decent which means religion plays a part of the culture I grew up in, so I was raised Christian. Despite that, I feel very uneasy around religious people, even as a kid, and I denounced my Christianity very early as I stepped out of childhood. As a teenager I read the Koran, Bhagavad Gita and of course the Bible as well only to find that they were pretty much all about the same thing, sucom to Gods will, or else…
My teenage revolt was not to go wild, but to meditate. Instead of books, I looked for answers from where I thought it mattered the most, within. Every day I would sit in my room and meditate to try to find myself and the answers I was looking for.
What had been taught, expected or preached to me was not what I connected with, so I tried to find my own answers with a constantly echoing question of why. I questioned everything from my parents, society, the world, even myself and the universe itself, because God was not the answer to any of it.
As an adult, I’ve become somewhat of a romantic realist. An atheist for sure, but a person who believes that love, equilibrium and compassion is the key to everything. As a father I’m equally amazed by the science of the universe as well as the power of love. I understand intellectually that we are a product of evolution, that what we are, is what we needed to be to thrive as a species; but I also understand that emotionally, there are supernovas and black holes that can swallow us whole.
That said, we have now evolved into a place where many of the isms of religion don’t apply and are not needed, instead they simply act as dividers and sources of conflict and war. We have science to give us our mind boggling and previously unimaginable and inconceivable answers. We have governments that make laws and the people who enforce it. For me personally, I don’t resist breaking the law out of fear of punishment, neither from God. I want to be good, for the sake of goodness, out of love and compassion to my fellow man, animal, plant or planet. Intellectually, in it’s simplest form, I want to be good because goodness brings prosperity and badness brings disparity.
Religion has no real place in todays world and certainly not in our home. I mean, I get it. It’s comforting to believe that you have a purpose, that someone you loved died for a divine reason or that there’s life after death. It would make the pain of seeing our ageing and sick parents a lot easier and when we’re drowning in self doubt during during a significant junction or crossroad in life, religion becomes a crutch to lean on to prevent us from falling. It eases the swelling infection of asking why, Why, WHY? But religion is nothing more than a bandaid over an infected wound, at best.
There is of course also the cultural aspects of religion. You were perhaps simply brought up into it and it is as much a part of you as paella is for Ana and sabzi is for me (I know I’m simplifying, just to make my point). It’s tradition, a custom or simply a habit but a potentially dangerous one. Ultimately religion inhibits us from having a real dialogue with ourselves, without external influence, or even worse, external influence from a mind of thousands of years ago.
I know the day will soon come when Ean will start to ask all the big and small questions and with the same sense of wonder that I will explain how and why rain falls, I will explain religion to him based on these paragraphs. I will explain to him why I think religion limits your mind and can at best merely be a conversation between three people where you are two of them and one is a stranger speaking a foreign language. (Okay, Ana asked me to clarify that last part. The three people consist of the previous you, the future you and religion is the third person, the stranger who doesn’t know you and speaks a foreign language.)
Just like you read this and interpret the meaning of what I’m trying to say, “holy scriptures” are based on the same principle. Someone was motivated to put in writing, in their own language and with their own words, what they believed and thought about the world at that time and then it was transcribed and (often incorrectly) translated thousands of years later.
Religion keeps us in boxes, tricks us into thinking we are enlightened because we regurgitate old ideas barely fit for memes, mostly phrased to cast fear and submission into our hearts and minds. I for one refuse that submission and I bow only to compassion, I kneel only to science, as science is the one thing that truly gives us wings to takes us to a new and better world.
I know, what if Ean decides to be religious? Finding God may be perceived as something beautiful but I’m convinced that where there is a full heart and a curious, well nourished mind, there is no need, place or purpose for religion.