On My Skepticism
My Father called me up the other morning and asked me about my religious views. It was an interesting conversation for me as it allowed me to think back over the sequence of events that lead me to the place that I am today. in the past ten years I have gone from a devout follower of a faith to a skeptic with no faith. It has been difficult but one of the best things I have ever done for myself.
I don’t think that I ever really could have been a good religious adherent. I have to many questions. I want to challenge the way people think. Most importantly I want people to be happy. Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. I spent years justifying my religion in my head when philosophically I was at odds with it. Just as I would find a way to convince myself that it was OK to believe the wheels would fall of in another area and I would start all over.
Wash, Rinse, Repeat…
Then one day on a long car trip by myself I listened to “The Power of Myth”. It is a series of conversations between Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers about the power and influence of Mythology in our lives. It held me my undivided attention for 6 straight hours as I drove through Utah, Nevada, and into California. I was in awe of all the stories being told around the world about basically the same set of questions. It didn’t shatter my belief system, rather it showed my the chinks in the armor.
I still tried to justify my belief s to myself after that and for the most part I was successful, and then on a trip down to visit my in-laws my wife and I listened to the Da Vinci Code. Now the Da Vinci Code did not challenge my religious beliefs at all… oddly enough it strengthened them a bit. Reading up about the information in the Da Vinci Code was what shook my religious foundations next. Specifically “The Templar Revelation” a book about the origins of Christianity. The book was a fascinating read and the authors had done some great research and carefully supported each argument they made up until the very last chapter where they make some unsupported claims. Nonetheless I began to question my beliefs a little further after that.
Needless to say I became a Dan Brown fan and began to read his books. One day I came across an audio lecture he gave. There wasn’t anything really special about it, it was the kind of lecture you would expect the author of the Da Vinci Code to give. He made one statement in the course of the lecture, I think in response to a question asked, that really hit home for me, and I think it was the turning point for me where I could no longer believe as I had in the past. He said “we believe in the gods of our fathers”. This was the right statement at the right time for me. I realized all at once that I had been Christian/Mormon because my parents had been and their parents had been. I had been raised to believe those things. If my parents had been Buddhist, Muslim, Daoist, Hindu, Jewish, or any other religion I would have been raised to believe that instead.
So now I am a skeptic/agnostic/atheist that attends a Unitarian Universalist church. I believe that the world would be a better place if we could just believe what speaks to our soul and allow others the same latitude. I believe the world would be better if we would focus on the common ground we have and not our differences. I watched Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and my wife pointed out afterwords that the song “Any Dream Will Do” is aproppriate for us right now. I agree with her wholeheartedly. Like the song says I feel like the curtains have been drawn back for me and I have had the chance to see if I really believed “what I thought I knew”. Now as I look back over the vast religious landscape of the world I realize that we all find hope in our own special ways and that is good, and that is how it should be, and at the end of the day… “Any dream will do!”