They are called “God moments” by the faithful, and they are everywhere, from the ordinary green light streak when you are late to work, to the path that led you to the right doctor who cured you of cancer. I see them even in my own Atheistic life, the coincidence that a girl registered for two classes I also took last term, and we had so many similar interests that we are now good friends. Or running into several friends on a day when I really just wanted to talk to someone. I could make a case for (insert religion) based on these coincidences alone.
I am writing this blog entry due to such events. In fact, the coincidences so inspired me that I completely changed my blog (even the title) and updated my “About” page. Since Wednesday, at every turn, I have been encouraged, in one way or another, to begin writing on a regular basis again. If I was religious, I’d probably be in a spiritual euphoria right now.
However, I am not religious, and a few random instances that all had similar themes do not give me (or you) an excuse to practice the human specialty of reifying the thing. In short, I cannot say that these events are evidence of the real existence of a corporeal being who created us and rules over us and therefore has the right to demand I worship him and tithe ten percent of my income to a local house of worship.
Yet, that is what is often done in every single religion. I challenge you to look into religions not your own and find how similar their language is to the Christian language. The stories they tell may be slightly different, but they all have similar themes, and not just a virgin birth of their Lord. You can speak with a radical Islamist who is certain that the series of events that happened to him were a sign from Allah that he should do what it is radical Islamists do. You can speak with a Christian shooter at an abortion clinic and hear the same. Jewish, Hindu, etc, all the same sorts of stories, all the same sorts of signs pointing them to the evidence that their deity is the true deity.
It’s hard to believe this idea used to be a very real thing for me. As I mentally sifted through the last three days and the desire to follow through on what these random circumstances seemed to dictate, I realized that this really is why people think that their god is the real deal. That these things happen as often to people outside that form of belief is usually excused with the accusation that “my god is trying to speak to you.” That is condescending beyond words.
If the rational person attempts to point out that, yes, these are all nice things you think your god is doing just for you as if no one else in the world has needs more important than you making every green light when you are late to work, but what about the things that don’t happen? What about the person who is never cured of cancer, or the child who never gets enough to eat? These, we are told, are also the cause of the deity, or, at the very least, not his fault.
It is probably this passing of the blame onto the human race instead of placing it on the omnipotent, omniscient, ruler of all, that first made me realize that faith was all a farce. Blaming the victim of the suffering is something an abusive person does, not a loving one. Suppose I ask one of my kids to do something I know they don’t know how to do, say, clean the car windows with a newspaper and off-brand Windex, then I get pissed at him for doing a crappy job of it, what kind of asshole does that make me? (It makes me my grandfather’s kind, just FYI.) Why do we not say the same for a deity who makes people suffer real pain without, at the very least, guiding them to someone who can help them be cured? Or a god who sends people to hell because they believed in a slightly different version of him than you think they should?
I understand the need, however, to make everything about your deity. I get why you can’t watch a movie or read a book without looking desperately for evidence that your faith is in something solid and trustworthy. The need of the believer is the greatest of all needs, that of survival. In this case, eternal survival in a place where there is no pain or suffering. Religion demands absolute belief, even in the face of evidence to the contrary, on pains of eternal damnation, or, if you are more liberal, displeasing the god who loves you so much.
In hindsight, it’s hard to believe I called that freedom, but that was before I had allowed myself to finally look at the evidence that was constantly hinted at in the sermons of various preachers over nearly five decades of church attendance. Once one truly examines the lack of evidence, there is no reason to assume every coincidence is because of a god.