What I’ve learnt
Over the past four years of blogging I have learnt a few things about the religion. I’ve learnt that people are willing to justify their faiths at the cost of all reason. I’ve had Creationists defend the OEC and the YEC theories alike; they are against the teaching of evolution at schools, and talk of vegetarian T-rexes, of God testing our faith by planting fossils as to confuse sinful scientists, of missing links, of common designer as opposed to common ancestry (as opposed to common decency), of the synonymity of evolutionary biology and geology and cosmology and abiogenesis, or of the complete unreliability of Isocron dating, or the violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and of the evil conspiracy of evolutionary science in general. They demand their crocoducks, they allow for microevolutionism to explain their diluvialism yet confirm the heresy of godless Darwinism. Mr. Darwin was a racist, they say, so was Mr. Huxley, they say; Mr. Newton was a creationist therefore creationism is credible. I’ve had the IC mousetrap, the polystrates, and whatnot. The humbler Buddhists say man is higher than other animals in the ladder of reincarnation; the Christians carry the torch of egocentrism and say the ‘animals’ have no souls as we do, or that we have dominion over them, because “we are not animals and my grandfather wasn’t a monkey!” I’ve had Muslims defend the prospect of the whole world governed by Sharia law, or of religious rights given solely to the Muslims because the Qu’ran is Truth. I have had another Muslim tell me I was going to burn forever, and that Allah would be laughing at my misery and suffering. I have had a Christian tell me the same, that God would have the last laugh. I’ve had their pity as well as slices of their Hebraic vengeance. Literal interpreters of the Bible seem unanimously to oppose the right of homosexuals to marry — why wouldn’t they? Stem-cell research is an abomination to humanity, some say, and so is abortion. Another Christian tells me that God hands out cancer for a reason, that natural disasters are results of our disobedience of God, or that atheism equates to Satanism which is the result of men thinking they “know everything”. I have seen Christians defend genocide, infanticide and cannibalism. Who are we to understand God’s ways? they say. Who are we but slaves for Jesus? Infinitely powerless and infinitely sinful.
But I think more importantly I’ve learnt a few things about myself. I’ve learnt that I am, in every sense of the word, intolerant of religion. I am not against the right for people to have or exercise religion, but am intolerant of organised religion in itself, and their popes, their preachers, their teachers, their missionaries and their claims to privileged and divine Truth. I’ve learnt that everyday I am less atheist and more apathetic to the entire question of the Divine, for I’ve come to realise that so long as men suffer with no hint of intervention, their problems cannot be prayed away, or wished away, but they can only be dealt with with doubt and humility, and by collective humanitarian efforts as those not conditional upon the promise of heaven or with external agendas of evangelism. Let it be said that I have little to no concern for the existence of God. The question intrigues me but pales in comparison to the harm that has been done in the hands of those who affirm that they have the ultimate answer to the mystery of life. They ignore what is known in their anticipation of the after-life, and convince themselves that our present is simply transitory — a teleological trial-period with an expiration date stamped on its lid. They teach their children that they are sinful, that they carry the guilt of Adam, that they are powerless and that they are servants of an unseeable deity. They teach them irrational distrust of man, distrust of humanistic methods, of logic, of science. They trouble them with threats of hell-fire, of the vision of their friends gasping from outlets of said fire because of their self-inflicted infidelism, they tell them to evangelise, not to doubt, to do as tradition tells them, that morality can only be gauged from an ancient book of myths, so that they must surrender their humanity to the barbarism of the yesteryear.
From my childish acceptance of God, to my sincerest devotion to God, to my immature resentment against God, to my youthful rejection of God, and now to the plainest manifestation of apatheism that excludes the importance of the God Question, I feel that with each step of the way I am brought farther away from the shores of confidence, sent drifting into the merciless sea of perpetual doubt. I have set out in search for Truth, but since no Great Truths be given I am only faced with the reality of our human conditions, and the forces which restrict our intellectual (or even spiritual) liberation, which endorse our divisive hatred for one another, our theological racism, and deprive us of our future, as well as that of our children. I am in all faith, if I am to have faith at all, that if theological questions cannot be settled at all, then time is being wasted in pointless exercises in exegesis, in pointless anticipations for the return of Christ, and in pointless worships of self-appointed prophets, because such exercises are only carried out to ensure that the conveniences and comfort that such faiths generally bring will not be lost to the disconcerting whirlpools of uncertainty and subsequent humility. From this I see no other escape than to do away with man’s innate attitude of taking dogma without hint of doubt, insofar as I am allowed my freedom of speech, to argue against its fundamental baseness and falsehood, and hopefully to offer a solution in its stead. I am in no possession of such an ultimate solution. The only solution approaching it that I can think of is a world in which all religions are not only exercised freely, but also debated freely. In my desperate optimism I envision a world of tolerance, but whose intellectual atmosphere does not keep men in closed traditions as a result of excessive tolerance, such that they may learn to take from others as others may learn to take from them. Nothing is achieved if everyone chooses to hide behind the presumed infallibility of his god or gods that secularity allows, and regurgitates the wisdom of men who lived thousands of years ago without hint of being inclined to modify and improve upon them post-mortem. Education, I believe, should teach children to doubt, not merely to follow their teachers, as children are so inclined to do so owing perhaps to the mystery of their genetics; they should learn that their teachers are also humans capable of error, and teachers should take heed of their own infallibility and recognise that their mission is not to regurgitate facts, but more importantly to inspire children to investigate these facts for themselves rather than to follow in everybody else’s footsteps. I believe strongly that education, both engagingly intellectual and moral (but not dogmatically so), is the more effective cure to the hopelessness of our present situation. Above all, I have become convinced that certain traditional precepts of religion are simply immoral; and I have come to the conclusion that evil things must naturally be opposed with the greatest forces of doubt and criticism that anyone can afford to give, which is the reason for many of my disapproving (or at times cynical) rants which you see on this blog. I have no desire to restrict anybody’s religious freedom, so long as they do not intend to violate the freedom of others; but I believe that I have every reason to disagree with you, and every moral obligation to give my arguments whenever I feel they are needed (simply for the fact that someone somewhere might find it remotely beneficial), and it is important that I should give them in the only way that should not affect anybody’s freedom of religious practice — which is by way of writing. I write under no illusion that I should be able to convince anyone of my points or conclusions, particularly the religious folks with whom there appears no easy road to happy reconciliation, but I do hope that someone, somewhere, might find what I say in some wise helpful to his own difficult journey amidst our common seas of perpetual doubt. To me, writing this blog has been a tedious process of personal discovery (or perhaps of the un-discovery of the person I once was), and on that note I’d like to thank everyone who has constantly supplied me with supportive or adverse thoughts along the way. I have learnt so much from me, as I have learnt so much from you. Yet we all have learnt so little — which is why we must remember to always share our best thoughts, and not to keep them solely to ourselves.