Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Religion vs morality

I took the Catholic religion *very* seriously when I was a kid. My parents and grandparents on both sides were deeply religious, without any religious hypocrisy to point to in their lives. They didn't leave it in church in the least. But for me, by the time I hit high school/college, the "truths" of religion meant less and less to me, so that by 21 I believed that religion was a crutch for people who had trouble having a relationship with God. So I raised my kids without a religion. We made sure they knew and respected the history and beliefs of the major religions, but in the process of teaching them how to make good moral choices in life, I began to see that what everyone was calling God was kind of a false idea.

It seemed false to me to pray for anything except acceptance of God's will. Praying to God for your life on earth, when heaven was supposed to be so much better, seemed wrong. I tried to believe in an intercessory God that you could petition to avert disaster, but when my sister in law died and another in law declared it was because she didn't pray right, I began to see the contradiction: either you are a servant of God's will, or you are trying to manipulate God. Either you in your pride think you are better than those who suffer in this world, or you humbly accept what God sends your way, and devote your life to helping others who are less fortunate.

I could go on about this, but the point was: who did I want to be, and what moral tools did I want my children to have? They both, as they hit their teens, told me they were atheists. At first it scared me, but it didn't change who they were. They were making mistakes like any teen, but they were good people, making themselves better as they grew up. The other atheists in my life were also the most moral, least hypocritical people I knew. They suffered less, spiritually, than those trying to force their religion to fit what they knew was right and wrong.

When Jesse got leukemia the first time, I really believed in the power of prayer and faith. By the time he died, I realized that it's an illusion. Nowadays I see atheism being used as a political definition, or even as a kind of religion. So maybe I should call myself something else. Non-theist, maybe.

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