Trigger Warning: Religion, Science

You might have heard this before, but I grew up with a lot of christianity around. It’s part of the US south, it was part of my family, it was part of my childhood. These things—environmental factors—have a way of sticking with you, shaping you one way or another.

You might have seen how, in a rough spot, I dig for the core of what god is. I think that belief in the christian god is about as valid as belief in the 10-dimensional universe. I believe that belief itself has a way of changing the world, has a way of giving people the strength to persevere long enough to do more than stand against entropy. Of course, I also believe that the moon makes people act a bit crazier than usual.

People used to ask whether I believed in a religion, try to tell me I was an atheist if I said I wasn’t sure. I was waiting to collect more life experience. I was pretty sure there was something, whether you want to call it a force, or an omnipotent God, or a bunch of small gods more like super-humans. For a time, I stopped dealing with religious people at all.

[I wonder if, later, some mixture of the remains of Trump’s reality career and Star Wars will be dug out of time and taken as historical fact, starting a new religion in which golden televisions are worshipped and bits of circuitry are carefully eaten.]

Religions are a way of soothing the longing for some organization or sense in the world. Science soothes in the same way. Compressing the complexity of reality into a headline or a paragraph can help, too, whether you’re on the writing or reading end. The life-optimization-hippies call this journaling.

For me, I can’t write into the void. I have to be addressing myself to a person who once asked a question, even if it’s years later and something they’ll likely never read. Or communicating to six people who all expressed curiosity about the same thing.

The one functional substitute I’ve found is the serbian orthodox church’s slava system. Unfortunately, nobody remembers who Great-Grandpa Draggy’s patron saint was. You could call this a quest opportunity.

-Stoya

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Also published on Medium.

3 Replies to “Trigger Warning: Religion, Science”

  1. I always found that religion is Man’s way of dealing with the fact they’re going to die; no other species does this. Other groups in the animal kingdom don’t dwell on the past or stress about the future, they live in the proverbial “now.” I think humans would be much better off if they focused on the things that are right in front of them at the moment than trying to change what has already occurred or trying dictate what will come; both are efforts in futility.

  2. My Roman Catholic mother’s parents died when she was little. She was raised and educated in a convent, taught how they thought the world SHOULD be, which left her wholly unprepared for how it IS… or the assholes that lived in it, like my father. In short, she missed out on too much of the good stuff while dealing with the bad. It was only in her final years that she managed to loosen up and let go of the little catholic she used to be.

    Christ, I like. Son of God or schizophrenic, if he believed he was sacrificing himself for others, he qualifies as heroic. Christians, though… like most faiths, that’s one disappointing mixed bag.

    Whenever a new religion is organised, centuries of stupidity and bloodshed follow, because no matter what people claim to believe, they remain products of their current environment. The world has changed more in the last six hundred years than the six thousand before it. People really should learn to reject the selfish, ignorant opinions from so long ago.

    I’ve been identifying as an absurdist lately… I define it as nihilism with a sense of humour. I lost that sense of humour after brexit and Trump, but I’m trying to get it back. So, for whatever it’s worth…

    Here’s to a better year. *sips white russian*

  3. Stoya – you said “Religions are a way of soothing the longing for some organization or sense in the world. Science soothes in the same way.“

    My background is also in Christianity – I am an agnostic who is the son of two very well educated but also very devout Christian parents – a Presbyterian Minister father and a Lawyer mother who was herself the daughter of a Presbyterian Minister. I was raised in the church.

    I have to say, however, after my long and studied personal path away from belief in any religion (or really anything supernatural) that I profoundly disagree with this statement of yours and its implied comparison. I couldn’t disagree more.

    Science does not “soothe in the same way”… not at all. If you perceive it that way, maybe you haven’t experienced actual scientific study.

    Science is repeatable – the very essence of it is a logical method of inquiry through experimentation that is only reliable when the hypothesis is made clear, the experiment is repeated (by other experimenters), and the results… occur again.

    This is, quite simply, the very opposite – the antithesis – of religion.

    I take such issue with this because my deep study of world religions and my personal realization of this truth about science is what led me away from religion and superstition towards a more rational, logical, scientific view of the world.

    Stated simply, science looks at the void honestly and courageously and attempts hypotheses and experiments to find verifiable truth about the void – it shines an actual light of measured analysis into the void… into entropy.
    Religion does the opposite – it invents a narrative, a fiction, to explain the void… it clouds the void by creating a fictional, unverifiable story about the void. If anything it makes the void worse.

    These two things are not soothing in the same way at all. If it feels that they are soothing in the same way… then you aren’t really involved in legitimate science. If you are ever fortunate enough to participate in an actual published, peer reviewed, and then replicated scientific study I think you will understand this profound difference. I would challenge you to seek this out and experience it.

    I know this may sound like an agnostic or atheist rant, or even as a bit of “mansplaining”, but when I read that statement I thought “wow, I can’t believe how much I disagree with that”.

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