Modern society has successfully neutered our ability to feel shocked and/or provoked through most of the entertainment we view on a daily basis. We can watch full frontal nudity on television before the watershed (if it is shown in an educational light), and just about any language you could think of is broadcast-able under certain regulations, so much so that I can type the word Cunt-yoghurt on the Internet without fearing any kind of backlash whatsoever. We have been treated to rather harrowing violence, sex, and naughty lexicon through some of our most cherished and critically applauded films. If a videogame didn't allow you to run over a hooker these days, it wouldn't sell many copies. So it seems bizarre that in spite of all this freedom of speech running amok, there's still one subject you have to tiptoe around these days. Religion.
This is not as much of a problem in the UK as it can be in countries such as America where the nation's motto is "In God We Trust", but even on our Anglican shores there are certain double standards when it comes to religion. Evangelical people stand in city centres with humongous placards which say jolly, heart-warming things such as "The Devil Will Claim You", "Repent Before It's Too Late", and no one cares to challenge them. They put up adverts on display near busy roads to inform us that the apocalypse can come any minute and that we need to insure ourselves against eternal damnation by attending God's house and putting £1 into a collection plate every week.
Yet, a group of athiests and agnostics ran an ad campaign on some London buses which said "There's probably no God" and got lambasted for infringing on the rights of religions to practise as they see fit. Although the campaign was a little misguided, surely it lands under the same freedom of expression as the bothersome evangelical messages we're all used to.
I'm reminded of the chubby bloke off of Borat who puts the mental into fundamental. Now, I know he is an overblown stereotype of these "happy-clappy" forms of Christianity, but one line sums up everything that I dislike about organised religion.
"I ain't no tadpole, I is what I is".
Why does belief in God automatically mean that popular science theory has to be discredited? Evolution doesn't disprove the existence of a divine entity, just one line of the bible which says that God created man in his image. A higher being may still have created the Big Bang, or kick started the evolution process on Earth by creating simple life. It is still the most plausible idea for why we have come to exist though. I suppose other theories such as gravity don't apply to you either, do they? If so, float off you useless, closed minded prick!
On my way to work I pass by two Christian churches on a daily basis which have large signs outside that display thought provoking slogans and images. Here's an example of a recent campaign they ran:
Which Cross Do You Believe In?
Now, this is actually a very clever campaign which makes the Christian cross seem like the more reliable answer and that belief in God is the more justifiable means to live your life. This represents a very Christian outlook, in that people who don't believe in an afterlife or a divine creator are idiotically playing around with their own future and juggling their chances of either eternal agony or eternal joy. That to have faith is the more sensible way to live your life.
However, I've always been rather suspicious of the word "Faith". When a religious person has faith, it fills their heart and mind with self assuredness that they are a good person and are covered in the event of an untimely death. In my opinion though, the word "Faith" implies a belief in something even in the face of a lack of evidence or poor chances of that event coming into reality. When it looks unlikely that you are going to get a job, people always say "have faith", even if you went to the interview without trousers on and tried it on with the receptionist. Faith, to me, is a failing hope that something good may come out of a bad situation.
I'm not saying optimism isn't a great attribute for a person, but what do people need faith in religion for? Why does there have to be something more to existence? What is so wrong with our lives and our planet that we need to believe in something better just around the corner? The Earth, in spite of the all the bad things we could name (and blame God for creating/allowing to happen), is still a place filled with wonder and excitement. Every answer, law, and discovery that science makes, another handful of questions are unearthed. There is still so much we don't know or understand about our planet and universe, and that seems more fascinating to me than "Oh, God did it. But don't touch it. He wouldn't like that".
This is my Earth, my body, my mind, and it's fine. I don't need to know that there's something more mysterious waiting around the corner for when I'm dead; my fascination lies right here in this space that I occupy. Life is filled with laughter, happiness, joy, and other positive clichés if you just accept them and look a little closer. I can cope with the average 79 or 80 years that have been assigned to me pending the avoidance of moving buses, and I'm sure other people could to if they could only see the wonder in the minute details of every day living. It's amazing enough that I was born, let alone have the conscience, social structure, language skills, technology, and the know how to create this post and send it out so that a limitless number of people can read it. It's also a miracle if you've read this dribble to the end, and even more miraculous if you've agreed or enjoyed it.
Please do not misunderstand this post as I don't mean to impose my own (lack of) beliefs on anyone else, but merely to comment upon it. I am also sorry for being a little more self indulgent and a little less funny than usual. Tune in next time when it's back to business as usual when I compare animals genitals with each other. Ciao for now.