Archive for March, 2014

Thinking for yourself

Friday, March 14th, 2014

At pretty much every wedding that I conduct, I will say that Humanism is about thinking for yourself and caring for people, that it is about reason and compassion. And I am often struck that some religious people sometimes feel that they think I am getting at them. Why is this? I suppose it’s obvious really: religious belief is based upon letting someone else do your thinking for you – which is not a very adult thing to do.

Nobody can think their way into religious belief. As we used to say in religious circles (while I was in religious circles) religious faith isn’t so much taught as caught.

Like a cold, I might add.

Religious belief is fanciful thinking. It is escapist surrealism. It is living in a dream.

And perhaps that is why religious people get upset when I say that Humanism is about thinking for yourself. It seems it unintentionally rubs the underbelly of the flight from reason and logic that is religious ‘thinking’.

It upsets me when I consider that even today children are being indoctrinated into religious thinking. Their minds are being wired wrong, with fanciful superstitions presented as ‘gospel truth’. Having taken years, decades, to clamber out of the cage of religious thought, I was astonished to discover thinkers who had lived and died generations before me who centuries ago knew religion to be the twaddle that it is. And there was I spending the first quarter of my life (or more should I die before a hundred!) immersed in the mental death of religion.

How indescribably hard I found it to break through the glass cage into which I’d been immersed and into which I had immersed myself. And breaking out of that man-made trap – for all religions are man-made – felt just like walking through glass: imaginary glass. For the constraints of religion are artificial, at least within the mind.

Why do we permit innocent children to have their minds miswired from infancy with religious nonsense – yes, even in this day and age? Why do we hold as a right parents’ so-called ‘right’ to indoctrinate their children with their particular brand of the ‘opium of the people’? If parents were giving their children drugs, would not reasonable and responsible citizens have an opinion on that? Or if they were teaching them as truth nonsensical things as if they were facts, scientifically established? And yet is that not what religious schools do and religious parents do, indoctrinating innocent children’s minds, warping from from reality. Setting up in their minds ridiculous notions of the ‘elect’, the ‘saved’ and the ‘damned’; the ‘need’ for ‘salvation’; ‘original sin’; the ‘infallibility’ of the Pope; angels; devils; and the ‘inspired word of god’ – when all it is is what religious leaders interpret various literary works (all written my mortal humans) to mean. Inducing guilt into children when they should be instilling confidence into children. It sickens me that we are still at it, in this day and age. People earning a living by claiming to know the mind of a deity that doesn’t exist. And they pretending to have the ear of the so-called master of the universe.

Do I regret the many years I spent trapped within religious belief? Well, I guess I could have spent them trapped within alcoholism or drug addiction or any other addiction. But, honestly, looking back, I see religious belief as far, far closer to the more socially unacceptable addictions than I ever could have imagined while I was a believer.

Mind you, Humanists are far from perfect. None of us is perfect. I guess it’s the struggle of life. Breaking through constraints of the mind. Someone told me recently that I shouldn’t have asked a question. And it reminded me of getting a clatter on the head when I was in religion class as an adolescent and I asked a question and the religion teacher hit me on the head with the bishops’ pastoral on justice and told me not to be impertinent! Yes, we should all ask questions and no responsible adult should let anyone else do their thinking for them; nor to not ask questions; for asking questions is the beginning of knowledge, understanding, judgment, decision-making and adult responsibility.