Special Note: Yes, the title of this post is deliberately provocative. Sometimes I just like to poke the bear and see if it really is asleep or just lying in wait.
I was raised Catholic and questions of faith and religion truly do enthuse me; I enjoy the debate and the conflict that surrounds religion. I willingly get into conflicts with my friends and family over religion and hope that my views on the matter have evolved over time in response to new information and my own personal growth as a person. I also strongly believe that my brain wasn’t fully baked in place until my mid-twenties, and may still be cooling today.
All of that aside I would like to tell you that Evolution is not a solid science in my home. Not in the minds of my Wife and Daughter by any means. They both have stated that they strongly disbelieve the science of Evolution; this stance is somewhat surprising in the case of my wife, as she was very into Anthropology and Biology in high school, spending months on a single Australopithecus project. In the case of my Daughter, she’s a child who has had no formal science education in regards to evolution and has only her Mother and I around to discuss such things with. The school (Catholic) is still in the early stages of education for her and the Origin of the World story she is more likely to hear (save high-level discussions of the dinosaurs and the history of the world) tend to come hand-in-hand with “God made the World in Seven Days, so there” kind of theory. They both get somewhat perturbed when the subject even comes up. To put an end to the discussion of the bible being literally true I actual had to resort to a sneaky tactic; The Flintstones:
You two believe there were Cavemen, right? Like the Flintstones? Well, if the Bible is true, there were NO cavemen, none at all. The Flintstones could never have happened if the Bible is true, so how do you want it? Do you want cavemen or not?
So, for those of you who are keeping track, here are the holes in my argument that my wife an daughter missed:
- In the Flintstones there are cavemen and dinosaurs living together. That is not how things were.
- In the Bible it is mentioned that Cain sought his wife in the land of Nod, east of Eden. There were other people, just no other “Chosen People”
- The Flintstones also had cars and computers, before the industrial age.
- The Flintstones existed before Jesus, why were there priests?
So I had won the argument by cheating, I used their love of cavemen to blunt the discussion and put to rest their complaints about Evolution (their argument went something like “The world was made by god in seven days, so there”) but the whole Faith versus Rationality discussion never ends.
I’ll let my Wife be at this point, she was raised in a North American Protestant Family whose Matriarch is still doing “Work for Jesus” by cutting out pictures of Cats and putting them in dollar-store frames. They are some form of Baptist or Lutheran or something, she’s not a church goer either way, she just “has faith.”
My daughter, however, is just forming her opinions of Religion and Faith, especially as she heads towards the age of reason (13) when she becomes and adult in the church. We discuss articles of faith and religious norms constantly; she is really becoming an excellent conversationalist on the matter and has learned to pick up my cues in my language when I am trying to digest a subject for her ears or talk to her level when the concept is beyond her.
Over this past weekend we were discussing the difference between Religious Laws and Articles of Faith. I was trying to teach her about the capricious nature of Religious Laws and how if they are truly “the stone foundation of life”, they should remain unchanged, regardless of social norms and taboos. Using the examples of “Pork is Unclean” and “Meat on Friday is a mortal sin” we talked about how Religious Laws are often influenced by societal taboos and then we discussed what a taboo was. It was a great conversation where we discussed the Bible’s role in Religion as well as the Role of Saint Paul and his laws, the origin of Saint Paul’s own faith and the paucity of his belief in the Human Jesus (here’s a hint for you, Paul didn’t believe that Jesus was ever human).
These productive discussions aside, my Daughter is easily offended by my Jibes at Religion. I will sometimes poke fun at the Religious by talking about Noah’s Ark and The Horns of Jericho. I will point out that if the Bible were true, that Mommy and Daddy are related, since there were only two people at the start (again, ignoring the whole Nod thing). She get’s pretty worked up. I’ve even wondered out loud how I can offed the Christians today, which gets her goat too. Your dad played this game with you too, he’d poke fun at something you love just to get your goat, I just happen to poke fun at Religion.
All of this culminates in the discussion of my own faith and why I don’t go to Church anymore. Some people leave Church because they just get lazy about going, or it was something they did with their family. I stopped when I realized that it was all a lie. I remember it crystallized in my head, I was a former altar boy, sunday school teacher and had flirted with the idea of taking my vows, I was by no means a lapsed Catholic. I attended Mass on my own, without friends of family, by choice. Then one day the priest stood at the front of the church and urged the collected people there to contact their Minister of Provincial Parliament and urge them to vote against allowing Homosexuals to adopt children. I walked out, I stood up and walked out, I met a former teacher of mine and we walked out together, without looking back over our shoulders. We agreed that it was an inappropriate thing for the priest to discuss. It was the end of the Church in my eyes, I understood the Right to Life, it was about protecting life, but this was about suppression. This was not out of love for the Children, but hatred for the Homosexuals, who were given the lip-service “you may worship in the Church but cannot be a practicing homosexual.” This is the Church that changed it’s standing on things that had been mortal sins for hundred of years, the church of Plenary Indulgence, the Church that covered up Child abuse on a massive scale.
Acts 9:18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight immediately, and arose, and was baptized.
It was the day that I stopped just turning my brain off about Religion and Faith and started thinking about them the same way I thought about Politics and Science. Why were they important, what are the leaders of the Religion doing?
I had been a huge fan of the Pope when I was younger, but more and more the Church was taking steps to reassert the old laws, without really being consistent about them, Limbo is Gone, but Meat on Fridays is still okay, no Women Priests and Condoms are still bad, but war can be moral. Child abuse is covered up…
You get the picture, I saw a great deal of this from the Vatican and the Opus Dey, I started paying closer attention to the other Religions. I had attended a few services in other Churches, they were transparently self-serving and confrontational, but it had taken years to see that Religion was really about the person, about either cowing the person into following a certain doctrine or allowing a person to come to terms with the “bad’ things they had done in their life. In the End Religion is a coping mechanism for people to deal with what they can’t or won’t understand, if one cannot deal with something, it’s God’s will if it comes out well. I even began to look at prayer as a kind of Blasphemy, since it seems to call on God to do something for the person making the prayer, you see this all the time “Please God do this for me, in your name amen”
So, my Daughter is on the other side of this discussion, she’s literally full of Faith in the Church and Jesus and hates it when these things are challenged. Which is where we were this morning, when I annouced that I was going out today to “Affront the Christians” after watching a “Good Christian Father” demand that “Farenheit 451” be banned because of it’s affront to Christians. Nevermind that the book is condmening said affronts. So I left the house with my Daughter beaming daggers at me (not really, she was making faces against the glass and waving happily) for my announcement.
My little Christo-Fascist, she’s growing up so fast and constantly amazes me with her ability to learn and take on new (and complex) ideas, I wonder if my lack of Church enforcement will make her into the kind of Born Again that her Mother’s family is or will my constant mantra of “Question Everything, Even me” put her on a good footing on the matter.
Time will tell.