I grew up with parents who were Methodist.  From birth, basically, they made me attend Sunday School and church every week.  When I got to be a teenager, there was an understanding: stay out late on Saturdays, do whatever you want, no curfews, no questions asked, but you have to get your ass up and go to church on Sunday morning.

Since then, I’ve told a few people about the arrangement.  Some of them have said, “that’s fascist.  I would never have agreed to that.”  I thought it was a pretty good deal.  Granted, trying to listen to a droning minister the morning after a bottle of Southern Comfort can be pretty brutal.

But here’s what I’ve surmised from 18 years of churchgoing and 48 years of observing mankind: there’s no way to prove there’s a God; there’s no way to prove there’s not a God.  It’s all speculation – what you choose to believe or not to believe.  If choosing to believe in God makes you a happier person and you’re not hurting anyone else because of it, so be it.  If choosing NOT to believe in God makes you a happier person and you’re not hurting anyone else because of it, so be it.  It only gets tense and ridiculous when either side starts hurling hateful accusations: “you don’t believe what I believe, and you’re ignorant (or going to hell) because of it.”

From a very young age, say six or so, I questioned the fairytale-like stories in the Bible.  Noah, Jonah and the whale, the parting of the Red Sea, etc.  I thought, “that all seems pretty far-fetched.  Those things could have happened, but…really?  And why does the entire congregation seem to blindly accept this as pure fact?”

But my main skepticism stemmed from the fact that all those obvious miracles of God occurred thousands of years ago.  I thought, “why doesn’t anything like that happen today, or even in recent history?  Why did God unleash all his cool stuff way back when, then have common folk pass the stories down by word of mouth for hundreds of years before they were finally written down by people who probably needed a really good editor?”

Then there was Genesis, and Adam and Eve.  Let’s see…there were just two people, and she was made from his rib, and they were banished from utopia because a talking snake cajoled her into eating an apple.  And now there are billions of people, of dozens of different races.  Seemed weird…and quite implausible.

I should go on the record as saying that I do believe in God.  Why?  I guess the short answer is, as stated before, it makes me a happier person.   When things are going well, I like to give thanks.  When things aren’t going well, I like to ask for strength and guidance.  Does that work?  Hard to say, but I’m not hurting anyone when I do it, and I don’t go around bragging about it.  And I never ask God for anything material.  That’s just selfish and asinine and a waste of a busy deity’s time.

And of all the people who have ever lived, Jesus is the person I most want to be like.  Not so much the preaching, but the cool hippie love-everybody thing.  And I guess that’s what frustrates me about so-called Christians – most I know don’t behave like Jesus at all.  They’re pretty disdainful toward the poor, the downtrodden, and anyone different than them (I’m looking at you, Republicans).  To quote Gandhi: “I like your Christ.  I do not like your Christians.  They are so unlike your Christ.”

Was Jesus created by immaculate conception, a human brought into this world by a virgin impregnated by God himself?  Well…maybe.  Or maybe someone accidentally got knocked up and was ashamed of it and made up a bizarre story.

So regardless of whatever you believe or don’t believe, just relax.  Whether you voraciously digest everything in the “Good Book” or you think it’s total bullshit, we all need to try to peacefully coexist.  Don’t think your purely speculative point of view is a hard fact and everybody should agree with you.  We’re all God’s creatures, after all.  Or Vishnu’s or Allah’s.  Or nobody’s.  Who really knows for sure?

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