Am I the only atheist hoping for rapture? Maybe when all the Christians leave, the rest of us, the damned, will have a chance at repairing the earth.
I’m sorry for my bad joke. You see, I’m a reformed alcoholic. I’m sorry, I meant Catholic.
I don’t drink much. I drink whiskey from time to time because it reminds me of my childhood. As weird as that sounds, it wasn’t. Whiskey has a strong smell and it was the smell that impregnated the rooms where adults got together to celebrate birthdays, weddings, quinceaneras and other festivities. Beer wasn’t that good in Colombia, so adults drank blended whiskey: Johnnie Walker, Buchanan’s, Old Parr.
I’m not a reformed alcoholic, just a reformed catholic.
Those two things are closer than you think and not just because they share the vowels.
But I am a reformed catholic.
I went to an all-boys Catholic school. Every hour on the nose, we would stand up to the right of our desks and pray one of the famous prayers.
At some point, I couldn’t believe it anymore. One of the reasons I stopped believing was because if you believe in the good of religion, you’ve got to believe in the bad and the bad of the Bible is quite scary.
I wasn’t able to sleep for a long time.
I’m not kidding.
I didn’t sleep one single night between 13 and 16. I couldn’t figure out what prevented the devil from showing itself and killing me. The Bible can be quite traumatizing. I’m surprised we haven’t created a label to explain this disorder. Here is a suggestion, “PTBD: Post-Traumatic Bible Disorder.”
My dad was already an evangelical preacher and he would tell me, “you have nothing to worry about.”
How comforting, right?
He always qualified it with, as long as you accept the Lord Jesus Christ into your heart 100%. “I’m not sure I can do that. 100% is a lot, and these stories have some holes in them.”
So, I doubted it and I was scared shitless of what doubting would bring to my life. It was that vicious cycle that kept me awake at night.
If demons appear, I would believe in god. How fast do I need to believe before the demons disappear? Would they get close to eating my face? Would anyone doubt if there was a demon who was about to eat your face? Probably not. A handful of doubting Thomas would be walking around with a half-eaten face, their desire to be contrarian stronger than the demon chewing their cheeks à la carpaccio.
After a while, things just don’t add up.
People clinging to religion know that, too. That’s why they make such an effort to discredit other religions’ cosmology and every religion has one. But theirs is the right one.
Even Buddhists have it.
Siddharta’s mom gave birth to him while standing up and holding a branch; she let the dropping (read baby), she let the dropping ease out of her vagina. This dropping was a full-fledged baby who walked seven steps north; he looked up at a star, he pointed and then said something along the lines of “I’m the one and only shit,” then fell on his ass, and nobody saw him walk or talk again for a long time.
Really convenient if you ask me and if you think I’m lying, it is all there in the ass of history, I mean annals of history.
People think I’m cynical.
I’m a very believing and naïve person. I think that is the scientific name for an optimist like me; I’m just not crazy.
I don’t believe in some of these “miracles” because they can’t be replicated; a guy eaten by a whale, a dude walking on water, a dove impregnating a female human.
They can’t replicate these miracles even though they insist on the stories accurately representing what happened.
If someone tries to tell you that this stuff happened now, you would know this person is very close to a life of hardship.
You can only assume these stories are true if there are thousands of years in between. That’s why it is bewildering to see the traction of newly formed cults like Mormonism and Scientology; thriving in a world of science even when surrounded by a freshly reimagined shroud of even wilder and more exotic fables.
Here is how it would play out if a teenage woman tells a cop that a dove impregnated her.
Cop talking into radio, “We are going to need a kit in here and somebody find this girl’s uncle.”
Some of you might be thinking, “somebody find this girl’s grandfather,” but we were all thinking along the same lines.
Let’s forget how a cop would handle this; they have seen too much and have a darker view of the world.
Let’s think how this would play out with you, honorable men in the audience.
“Joseph, can we talk before you start sanding the bed. I have something to talk to you about. I know you’ve heard some rumors about me and your much more handsome Hispanic cousin Carlos, but the truth is a dove has impregnated me.”
How gullible does a man have to be to believe this story?
This woman didn’t even try.
“Listen, Joseph. A gorilla came in, grabbed me by the neck, put me against this table you beautifully crafted last month and took me right then and there. It was weird, but I kinda enjoyed it. But you don’t have to worry about it because this gorilla was a messenger of god.”
You know, maybe a gorilla is more believable than a dove. We are related to them.
And at this point, you are probably feeling the same indignation I felt and you wish you could tell Mary in her lying faccia, “drop it, Mary; we all knew what you did!” or “Mary, who was this dove attached to?”
Maybe this was just a translation mistake the powers that be built a religion upon. Maybe right there, buried under the archaic language in old Hebrew or Aramaic, the word dove used to be a euphemism for penis. A penis impregnated Mary, but when the text was translated, nobody mentioned to who this penis was attached.
Or maybe the baby was Joseph’s all along, but they had it out of wedlock and Mary was trying to diffuse the tension with humor?
“Joseph, we’ve got to talk. I’m pregnant.”
Joseph horrified people looked down on kids out of wedlock asks, “Is it mine?”
“No, Joseph, a dove impregnated me.”
Joseph wanted to believe, so he did and he spread the rumor. Mary just went with it because she thought it was funny. An entire religion based on a joke between a cynical woman and a naïve man.
Maybe you find this joke blasphemous, but it is not any worse than the joke that there is a chosen group of people, their chosen god and everybody else will burn in a fiery hell without access to Piña Coladas.
The biggest test to the cosmology of religions is, would you believe it if it happened right now?
Let’s take it to the test. Shall we?
A mob of angry people literally crucifies a man who challenged their beliefs? Totally. It happens every four years in the Republican National Conventions. As a matter of fact, it happens every day on Twitter and on Tucker Carlson Tonight.
A woman impregnated by a dove?
Does anyone want to take this one? Would you believe it now?
The implications of immaculate conception at this age is that you’ve been cheated on. Plain and simple.
At some point in our spiritual path, we all inevitably come to a place of doubt. Some people walk away from the path and some double down on it. It is hard not to. It is hard to face life and its absurdities without the support of a metaphysical bearded big white man having your back.
But non-religious people sacrifice a lot more than a life of certainty. They lose community; they lose friends and family; they lose access to resources and opportunities; they lose the ability to lobby for (and support in block) issues that they think are important to them, and they lose outlooks on life that could be more beneficial than just assuming that nothing makes sense ever.
It is enough to make you take on drinking.