I’ve often fantasized about creating a belief system based on the Universe as the true creator of all things big and small. And being a preacher who preaches the same. It’s taken time to come to such a conclusion, the polar opposite of what I was taught for 12 years in Catholic Schools.
My very first day in school, Sister “Psycho” held up a scissor to the class and told us, a bunch of 35 — 40 barely 6 year old boys, that she would cut the tongues out of anyone who talked in class. I of course believed her literally as most of us probably did and told my mother. Who was up at the school principal’s office promptly the very next day and successfully demanded I be transferred to another class.
BTW, I was not sent to Catholic school for religious reasons, but because my brother, ten years older than me, went to public school only to become “Cannonball”, a 1950s gang leader. They believed the discipline in Catholic schools would be help me not getting into trouble. Boy were they wrong.
As you may know, Catholic schools of that era were run like concentration camps. Often with sadistic brothers and sisters, many of whom should not be anywhere near young children. The first week at school, a fight broke out between a dark skinned Sicilian boy and a young Irish kid, who had called him the “N word. The former won the fight easily and was rewarded with his immediate expulsion. The first of many racially charged school incidents.
Religion was taught in an extremely frightening way. There were classes on what constituted a mortal sin, many of which involved “impure thoughts” or sex acts on our part such as Onanism (masturbation). Tongue kissing, which came up in 5th or 6th grade, was also a “serious mortal one.” If not forgiven at confession, it could mean an eternal trip to the fires of hell.
Why Would a Perfect God Need to Create Hell and the Devil?
An alleged representative of God on Earth, Sister Saint Matthew, started my questioning of what was being taught to me in Catholic grammar school at a young age. I simply could not accept that an all powerful but merciful God would have created the earth, the universe, and heaven — and also allowed there to be a place like hell run by the devil, one of God’s angels who betrayed him we were told and lead a revolt against him.
Eternal Hell Fire
Hell, they told us, was a place where I could be sent after death and burned in fire for all eternity by rebellious angels if I was bad and didn’t confess my breadcrumb sins and get forgiven for them. I used to make up confession sins so that Father Paul Antonio would be happy. I could never tell him what was truly on my mind. 24/7 when I was 12, you can likely guess what that was.
Later in life, I would think that perhaps this Hell business was a bit too phony to deter the countless millions of innocent folks from being slain by the kings and dictators that ruled throughout our history who choose to slaughter them.
Questioning Dogma Can Be Dangerous
I recall when I was about 8 or 9 asking another nun in religion class how could God have created something as evil as the devil? A reasonable question so I thought and one that perplexed me to no end. My reward was having my ears boxed. “God gave the angels free will,” she then replied to the class, “of course he cannot create evil.”
They further taught us that sex and women were the source of our fall from grace in the Garden of Eden, and that the train wreck that followed we call civilization is all women’s fault, not God’s. Only they did it without ever saying the word sex or women.
The Real Lessons of Adam and Eve
Just showed us a depiction of a naked Adam being tempted by a naked woman grabbing the forbidden apple as she was being whispered to by a snake, with what appeared to be an African American face, representing the devil! And they talked of the scourge of impure thoughts which must be repressed. We got the point.
When confronted by anyone saying that this was actually God’s error, our sister and brother teachers quickly claimed he had also given everyone free will. Therefore anything after that is on us, not Him.
Thus was founded the sin of dodging responsibility, created by God himself.
Teaching the Universe is our Creator Didn’t Catch on
Spreading the word that the Universe actually was our creator isn’t anything new. It was likely tried many times in the past. Unfortunately it didn’t catch on or sell to the masses very well. Besides, advocates were quickly rounded up and disappeared. The masses, especially the leaders, thought they were special and better than the other mortal creatures that also lived and died and returned to dust.
Faith Trumps Logic
Thus the major religions were co-opted in order that our civilian leaders were better able to fight wars and control their slaves, servants, and workers. In today’s language, the rulers were said to be uncomfortable with all this woke stuff Jesus was said to have talked about such as helping the poor and wealth being an obstacle to getting into heaven.
The big selling point these rulers settled on pushing was “eternal life”, after you died of course. The leaders were pleasantly surprised that almost everyone believed their fairy tales.
Then there’s this line, quite successful for many, to accept their beliefs in the teachings of God by his reps here on Earth as an act of faith, when logic tells you otherwise.
Thus through most of the period of civilization under organized patriarchal religion we had a contradiction of beliefs between logic and faith. Between the belief in the technology of the wheel and the sword verses the belief in invisible forces enacted through religious practice. Between rational and religious approaches to real world situations. Rulers tended to act as representatives of God on earth with the power of life or death, whereas religion in the Christian faith promised the masses life after death but maintained loyalty to civil authority in this life.
Nationalism vs. Internationalism
Don’t get me wrong, many of the organized religions had some progressive ideas. And we had some decent sorts as teachers as well as the psychos. We even had a gay brother in High School who was coming out in our religion class, he softly ridiculed much of the nonsense we were being taught. His reward was being quickly shipped out to some far away place.
As the church occupied a privileged role in most societies, the leadership couldn’t afford too make too many waves against the rising and wealthy propertied classes. For a time in the Middle Ages both held more or less coequal power in many countries.
But as we know, power can and has corrupted both religious and secular leaders. Organized religion, to keep its privileged role in a society, had little choice once it was safely established but to look the other way regarding war, slavery, mega wealth and poverty and other undesirable traits developed in the “civilized” world.
Most accepted religions must take a nationalist stance and support the mother country when it goes to war to slaughter people.
Survival of organized religion also requires it to often look the other way, or even support fascism.
Today, organized religion seems largely silent as the fascists try to take over the country. Most activism today seems to be backing the side of the ultra-right. Or this could just be a product of media bias. Hard to be sure either way.
Ever think why even religious schools would force children to stand before the first class of the day, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, a prime example of inculcating a backward form of nationalism at an early age.
"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,"
Here God is placed at the same level as the state. I honestly at the time could not understand why I hated saying it in school, but hate it I did. And would mumble it very softly.
Imprisoned by Dogma
One reason organized religion is very conservative today is that it’s locked solidly into its past behaviors and dogma. It quite naturally in these polarized times leans right. The Catholic Church in particular has tried at times to change, but it always returns to its immutable entrenched dogma. It even claims its Pope is infallible when speaking in terms of established dogma and doctrines, many of which are ancient and have long been supplanted by reality. Something this link tries to walk back in regards to the current Pope.
To answer the question of what made me evolve into an athiest, it wasn’t any single thing. It wasn’t the cruelty or the scandals involving pedo-priests. It was the developing the courage to open my eyes and not be a victim of old beliefs and superstitions. It was the ability to seek and acquire true knowledge.