I’ve been on a vacation for a little while. Not only have I not been writing for some time, but I’ve been on a vacation away from work as well. I won’t lie, I’ve lost a bit of my desire for writing lately. With life piling stress and struggle on top of me, writing hasn’t exactly been on the top of my list of things to do. However, as writing has always been a release for me, I thought maybe it was time to share again.
Before I left work to take my vacation, I had an interesting conversation with a coworker. As an electric power equipment operator, I go through several batteries a week that need to be changed out and charged. The person whose job it is to operate the machine that takes out the industrial-sized batteries of all of the power equipment in my warehouse has been training a new associate recently. This new associate is a practicing Muslim and he and the other man have been discussing religion. As this man (the trainer) likes to talk (or rather likes to hear himself talk) he shared some of the details of his conversation with me…Hooray.
First, let me say that I know very little about Islam. Let me also say that I don’t care to learn about it either. Not even a little bit. Religion in general has no appeal to me. God, if real, would transcend religion (any religion) and would reach out to all people if that was the plan for us. So far, that hasn’t happened and that is why I have no interest in learning any more about religion than I already know. Anyway, this person (let’s call him Gary) says to me, “So Aladdin was telling me about his beliefs. He was saying that his religion is peaceful (if done the right way) and that when you die, you wait in a room for judgement. So, not too different from any other religion, really.”
Now, Aladdin’s name is really pronounced “Allah-Deen”, and yet Gary pronounced it as if this guy was about to rub a lamp to let a genie out, but that’s besides the point. Gary then asked me, “what’s that place where people go when they die that’s kind of in-between? It’s where they wait to be judged.”
“Purgatory?” I asked.
“Yes, that’s it. Man, I couldn’t remember the name of it. So Islam has a place just like that too. Funny, huh? It’s all the same stuff in religion. God is God no matter what you want to call him.”
I then said, “Well, purgatory is a Catholic belief. I was never a Catholic so I don’t really know all of the details about it.”
Puzzled, he looked at me and asked, “You were never a Catholic? Really? So what are you?”
“I’m not really anything anymore,” I responded.
He gave me a “whatever” look and that was that. I could see that Gary was no longer really interested in continuing the conversation any further. I’m not sure if I offended him, angered him or just caught him off guard. He seemed genuinely surprised that I wasn’t “something” rather than nothing. And that kind of makes me laugh. Everyone is expected to be something. I suppose it helps us to fit in with other people that are “something.” So many people don’t really want to dig deeper and actually analyze their beliefs to find out if their reasons for believing are sound. They simply want to believe something and then they expect others to have a belief in something as well. Sorry, but I don’t accept that any longer.
Belief in something without good reason is an irrational position to take. Believing in a god that has not once been proven to exist is an irrational position to take. Faith is not a good thing. Faith is a barrier between a person and the truth. As Matt Dillahunty likes to say, “I want to believe as many true things and as few false things as possible.” He also says, “You shouldn’t believe in something until there is sufficient evidence to do so.” There is no sufficient evidence of God. Any god. And if there is no sufficient evidence of a god, discussing religion is rather pointless. First you need to prove a god exists. Then, and only then, does discussing dogma become even remotely interesting or important.
When someone asks me, “so what are you?” I really do have to laugh. I am so far from who I used to be it’s funny. At one point in my life, I would have been just as surprised as Gary was that someone has a lack of belief. Now, the fact that people still have faith is what is surprising to me. I wish that more people had the courage to stop what they are doing and thoroughly examine their beliefs to find out if they are being rational or not. I think most are too afraid of what they’ll find. And so they remain trapped in a life of “I feel better believing so I’ll continue to believe regardless of whether supporting evidence exists or not.”
So what am I? I am just a man. An insignificant man in the grand scheme of things, but an important one in the reality of the world that I share with my family. There is sufficient evidence to suggest that life is worth living without religion and without belief in the supernatural. There is no sufficient evidence that I have seen to convince me otherwise. I am just amazed at how so many people look at me as the outcast now that I no longer believe in the things that they believe in. My skepticism is quite justified. The faith I once had was not. The fact that that now bothers or confuses people boggles my mind…and gives me a chuckle.