Everything that you have been taught about religion is wrong.
Let’s presume that statement is true.
If it is, where do we go from there?
And what’s my point?
Before you can create a new work, you must first wipe the slate clean. It is not my intention to debunk whatever indoctrinations you hold dear. If you are to be completely honest with yourself, however, you’ll have to admit that everything you’ve been taught in regard to religion and spirituality is, at best, far-fetched. It’s had to be. You see, human beings suffer from a delusion in which it is accepted that age grants wisdom. When you are a child you strive to some day become an adult, with all the privileges that would imply. But just as living to be a ripe old age does not necessarily make a person wise, neither does the crossing of some arbitrary boundary into adulthood confer to us understanding, knowledge or insight.
In short, while we are quick to pat ourselves on our backs for reaching some artificial plateau at which time we can claim the mantle of “adult”, at which time we are expected to attain understanding on some level, the fact remains that human beings never really “grow up”. We’re simply allowed, and even expected, to one day declare ourselves to be adults, and then we’re expected to act accordingly, based upon whatever norms are imposed upon us by our respective societal structures and traditions.
The reality is that all we do by reaching adulthood is progress to a higher level of the same game we’ve played since we were toddlers. Are we wiser? Not particularly. Experience lends a certain insight into the way the game is played, but the only practical difference between a 10-year-old and a 20-year-old is that the game has become rather more elaborate. The 20-year-old is still living a life full of make-believe, only now he or she is pretending to be an adult. The toys are now more complex, but there’s little semantic difference between a 10-year-old boy playing with a toy race car in his back yard and a 40-year-old man driving around town in a shiny, new Corvette. A real adult would accept the need for transportation, but would not need the visceral appeal of a fast and agile sports car. That belongs to the child, who is still alive and well inside of the adult. The toys and games are more elaborate. The playground becomes more expensive. But when we become adults, all we’ve agreed to is that we’re not kids anymore. We still are, though, really. We’re all still playing “dress-up”.
Why have I gone through such pains to make the point that we’re all just grown up kids playing dress-up?
Well, to make a point. That’s the point. Which is this.
Simply put, religion is the biggest game of dress-up that there is.
Think about that.
When we’re kids we believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. When we grow up we believe in Jesus Christ, Muhammad and Krishna. The stories are bloodier, sure, and therefore appeal to our acutely attuned adult taste for drama, but the stories behind the world’s great religions are no more plausible than that of the jolly fat man who visits millions of homes in a single night to leave presents after crawling down chimneys like some supernatural contortionist. What’s the difference? Well, clearly no human being could really do all that. The story of Santa Claus is silly to any reasonable adult. However, it’s entirely plausible that 2,000 years ago a Jew in the Middle East performed all manner of miracles before being put to death, and then came back to life three days later to ascend into the heavens to be with his father, who just happened to be God.
Obviously, I’m singling out Christian belief, but this comparison works with any of the world’s religions. That is the point. Is the belief system you were taught any more or less plausible than the story of Santa Claus? Or the Easter Bunny? Or the Tooth Fairy? If you’re completely honest with yourself, you’ll admit that you’ve traded implausible childhood stories for equally implausible adult stories. It’s just as easy to say that a belief in Santa Claus is “a matter of faith”. However strongly you might believe that Santa Claus is real, you can’t prove it, can you?
So… religion is just another example of adults playing dress-up.
It’s that simple.
Now, does this mean that there’s no such thing as God?
Well… no. Not at all.
What it means is that our definition of who and what God is has been based upon a bunch of people theorizing about the unknowable through the centuries without any basis in reality. I can teach my children that Santa Claus is real and that all of the gifts we receive in the great game of adult life come to us not from Jesus or Muhammad, but through the benevolent love of the revered Santa Claus. That explanation is no more ludicrous than any other. If my children live their lives believing that the divinity of God is embodied in the figure of Santa Claus, and they pass on this belief to their children, and grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, etcetera, after a few thousand years it might be possible that Clausians will represent one of the most dominate religions on the face of the Earth, and every Yule the majority of the population will celebrate not the birth of Jesus Christ, but the impending arrival of Santa Claus.
In short, tradition means nothing. Islam is over 1,500 years old. Christianity is over 2,000 years old. Judaism is older. Other religions are ever older. No one can really point to tradition in and of itself as proof that a particular religious doctrine is factual. Just because the group you’re affiliated with has a 500 year old tradition of not eating bread crust, that doesn’t mean the people who choose to eat bread crust are infidels. In the end, arguing over religious differences and traditions is silly, because none of us can prove a damned thing. You’re free to believe whatever you wish, of course, but believing in something does not make it true. I might believe that you are a fish, but that doesn’t make you a fish.
Religion is fake.
God is real.
There you have it.
It’s not God that most people have an issue with. It’s the people who claim to follow God, in whatever flavor or under whatever name they choose, who do all the damage. Most Christians don’t follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, whatever they might profess. The same with Muslims. And Jews. We wrap ourselves in the traditions of our various religions like we’re donning the jersey of our favorite football team, and anyone who is not on our side deserves whatever comes to them. But most of us really don’t bother with learning all the details. Even as we go about our lives being selfish assholes, we talk about loving our neighbors and being kind to one another, even as we cut off the little old lady at the Walmart who was about to get that primo parking space close to the front door. You can claim whatever you want, but talk is cheap. Those good, decent souls who follow the spirit and doctrine of their respective religions without twisting it to suit their own desires, needs and prejudices, are really few and far between. There’s a reason why it carries weight to say “he was a good man” or “she was a good woman”. Most of us are not. Those good, decent people are the exception, not the rule, and they’re far outnumbered by the folks who claim to be good while essentially being assholes. Their professed religion has made little impression upon them or the way they approach the world.
That’s because religion is fantasy.
Here’s what happens…
God divinely inspires someone to write down The Truth.
The Truth is taught to anyone who will listen to it and believe.
Within a generation or two someone comes along who decides that The Truth needs to be amended somewhat to better suit changing needs.
After that the layers of fantasy just keeps piling on, with change upon change, and explanation upon reinterpretation. Before long, The Truth as originally written down is largely unrecognizable, buried deep within the amendments and the traditions. There’s enough of it left in the religious text for the teachings to ring true, but it’s the fantasy that we fight wars over. If we listened to The Truth in its raw, unadulterated form, we wouldn’t be able to wage war upon one another, based upon differences that are, at best, semantic. Judaism, Islam and Christianity all spring from the same source, and yet rivers of blood has been spilled over a few details that no one has ever been able to prove as fact.
God is real.
Religion is fantasy.
It’s that simple.
Based upon this premise, we can proceed. If you can’t accept the idea encapsulated in those statements, lay this text aside. Come back to it when you are ready to stop playing games. Come back to it when you are ready to grow up. It is only then that what you find in these pages will make sense. It is only then that you can begin to embrace the wonder that is the Universe around you. You won’t need implausible fairy tales to make sense of things. The reality will be far more compelling than whatever role you’ve played all these many years within your daily life of make-believe and dress-up. At last, if you are ready, you might find your way to God.