Easter musings

As Easter approached, Daniel seemed to take a greater interest in the subject. While spending time with his grandmothers, he asked questions about what various items used in worship were for and what people at church do.

He doesn't get much at home. As you may know, God doesn't bother me and I don't bother Her. Still, I think it's important that he knows about it, if only to understand all the to-do about Christmas presents (which I'd happily dispense with entirely) and Easter Eggs.

We did sign him up for RE at school, although we now have considerable disquiet about it for reasons which have recently been publicised.

Sitting there this morning with people of like minds (but unlike mine), I felt a slight pang of nostalgia. I remember well the times I spent at church. There aren't many institutions that provide that sort of fellowship to people in the community. This is often cited as one of the important benefits of churches... and I think it's right. It seems difficult to think of other "groups" which might provide it. And in these hyper-individualistic and -materialistic times, it's hard to see why people would get together in such a way if they did not share some beliefs in common.

But there's the rub. It's those beliefs that bother me.

I was brought up in the church and I get it. I really do. But the core tenets of the faith are, to me, so very unlikely that they're not worth bothering with.

It has been suggested to me in the past that atheism is very arrogant... How can one be so sure that there is no God? Well, that would be because there's no verifiable and repeatable experiment that would reveal Her once and for all. Yes, I'm banging on about the scientific method again. A lot of people much cleverer than me over hundreds of years have worked very hard to find out more about the natural and man-made worlds. We've all enjoyed the benefits of that work. I wouldn't claim to know everything myself but if I have faith it's in those people.

My faith, such as it is, is not misplaced. There's knowledge and then there's what we do with it. If believers want to cite spurious scientific advances, I cite all the horrid things done in God's name. (Or Gods' names... that goes for the Muslims, Jews, Hindus,... insert your religion here.)

Let's turn it around. How can you be so sure there is a God, less one worth worshipping, especially when you insist that everyone ought to share that belief? That seems pretty arrogant to me. Furthermore, I'm happy to admit that our understanding of any phenomenon might, through established scientific methods, be turned on its head. Religious adherents, on the other hand, would deny that cannot be a God and would probably be incredulous if some experiment disproved Her existence. Now there's the fundamental difference in our positions.

Easter has me thinking about these things, so much so that I am prompted to commit my thoughts. Previously I wouldn't have, but in these uncertain days, there some really scary shit around.

Christmas

I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas.

I like to see the pleasure as people celebrate. I hate the crass commercialism and forgetting or not even knowing what it's all about.

Don't get me wrong. After some considerable musing on the subject, I decided I don't really believe in God. I don't bother her and she doesn't bother me. And I think the idea that Jesus suffered a horrible torture at the hands of the Romans to save us (all of us, for all time) from our supposed "sins" is obscene.

But part of the story of Jesus is what it's about, and if you're going to celebrate you'd better understand that. The tricky thing is how to explain it to my son. I want to tell him the story behind it but I don't want him to believe in God or Jesus.

Don't be so shocked! You want your children to hold to your values and beliefs, don't you. I bet a good many of my potential readers (I don't have any actual ones) send the kiddies to Sunday School while rarely darkening the doors of the church themselves. Or if they don't, they still talk about God and Jesus or send the kids to a church school. (The massive public funding of private schools sure is a great way to undermine the separation of church and state... but that's another blog post.)

So how are my aspirations any different?

Still, I've come to accept that most people seem to need a crutch. The scientific method doesn't offer that. While it seems less likely that major discoveries will be challenged and that we know more and more about everything, one principle remains. Anything can be contested. Find a new explanation for observed phenomena or behaviours based on solid data (whose acquisition ought to be repeatable), and out goes the old one.

There's not much solace in that. I suppose people want certainty. I revel in the uncertainty. It's exciting and challenging.

If you refuse to accept the scientific method by insisting that God exists with no evidence in support of the claim, you really ought to eschew everything that has come about as a result of the scientific method.

Imagine... No car, no phone, no television (hey, that's not a bad idea!), no refrigeration, no medicines formulated since about 1700. (You wouldn't be reading this either since it's on a computer screen.)

I suppose it's hard to do, though. Especially at this time of year when a thousand iPhones are flashing at you in the mall.

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