Wednesday, January 31, 2007

My Short Spiritual Journey, Part 3

PART 3 - Reason Wins The Day

I said earlier that I am a “lay science buff.” All my life I have been fascinated by science and technology. It is a major part of my reading habits on multiple levels. Real science books. Most recently I’ve read Richard Dawkins (biology and evolution) and Brian Greene (physics). And science fiction. What could be possible? Richard K. Morgan has a fascinating series starting with Altered Carbon. I’ve attended two astronomy lectures in the past year. My TV viewing habits, although limited*, focus on PBS, Discovery, Discovery Science, Animal Planet, and the History Channel. I remember a time, I couldn’t have been more than 4 or 5, when I was playing on the swing set in our back yard. A butterfly landed under my feet as I swung back and forth. I got down and watched it and wondered: how does it fly, what does it eat, where did it come from.

Science has always been my passion. I took four years in high school including advanced placement Chemistry. I LOVED chemistry. I wanted to be a chemist. Unfortunately, as a highschooler I didn’t apply myself hard enough and struggled in Advanced Chem. When I left high school I went on to college to study computer programming. I’m good at it and it was always easy for me. I have observed in my travails in computer programming, both in college and in professional life, that some people are just better at it than others. This, of course, is not surprising. That is true of everything. But one thing that I’ve observed is that all the best programmers have a very critical and logic driven mindset. And I readily include myself in that camp.

I can’t speak for all other programmers but when I applied the logic to religion it came up short. When I applied the scientific method to religion it came up short.

I can’t point to a specific date and say, on this day I became an atheist. Religion was almost never a part of my life. It was out there just like Alpha Centauri was out there. It existed, I knew it existed, but didn’t affect me. As I grew older and developed the logical mind set that I apply to life, religion became more and more implausible to me. I think it was in college when I finally told someone that I didn’t believe in God. It was “secret” knowledge between me and some of my friends. Atheism was then (and maybe even more so today) considered wrong. You get shunned by many people when they learn that fact about you. It is a bigotry that is nearly universally accepted.

Today, I say it more or less proudly. This is not to say that I advertise it. I don’t walk around and say, “Hi, my name is Eric. I’m an atheist.” On the other hand when the subject comes up I don’t shy away from the truth. At times I even enjoy debating religion with people which probably explains the length of these posts as much as anything. But one has to be, oh, so careful in doing so. It offends people greatly when you tell them that their belief in fairy tales is so much hooey.

Ultimately, for me, God and religion are equivalent to Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny. They are equivalent to Frodo and Gandolf. They are eqivalent to Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. God is a character in a master work of fiction.

* My new 42" LCD, flat panel TV will likely increase the viewing. Soccer on that TV is awesome!


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