The more I read atheist and free-thinking blogs and literature, the more I am amazed at how unquestioning I was about certain things. I was just reading at The Atheist Yogi about her feelings when reading Chronicles of Narnia and how it was written to parallel Christianity. The interesting thing is, I read the entire series just a few years ago (and I’m in my late 30’s) and even then, I never really saw that. Maybe I just wasn’t looking for it, I saw it as an entertaining read, another fun piece of fiction.
At first, this realization that there are a lot of things I never questioned or looked at from a religious perspective made me feel as though I had been a fool in the past. The more I think about it, the more I think that I just never questioned religion all that much. When I “believed” (it’s in quotes because I don’t think I ever really did), I had the belief that all religions led to the same god, it’s just that they called him different names. I don’t think it is much of a leap to move from that to wondering or questioning if religion is “real” at all. I think I didn’t have interest in it at a very young age. What I remember most about church is liking the music, especially at the guitar mass at Christmastime. And it wasn’t the beliefs that I questioned, but the practices. Like, why can’t I wear shorts to church? (Never did get a reasonable answer to that one). Why can’t I get communion? (when I was a small child). Why do I have to go to church at all if God is everywhere? (that was the first step to not going at all).
Interestingly, I never really questioned the tenets of faith and religion themselves. Not until I had shed all belief did I see how easy it is for children to just accept and do what their parents do. I have always questioned why 13 seems to be the magic age where you are considered an “adult” in religion (Bar Mitzvah’s & Confirmation), yet you are not allowed to really make that decision as an adult. Even as a young teenager, I really didn’t want to be confirmed, but went along because it was expected. And all my friends were getting confirmed as well. Looking back, what 13 year old has the experience and the knowledge necessary to really make an informed decision about something that is supposed to be HUGE in the Catholic church? Even though I didn’t want to be confirmed, I would have been hard pressed to actually give you an answer as to why. Except that maybe I felt I wasn’t ready to make that decision for myself.
I read with fascination how others questioned the impossibility of the ark and the flood. It never occurred to me to ask. It was just a story to me. Or the fact that Adam and Eve had two sons. Where did everyone else come from? Was never on my radar. My DNA does not carry the faith gene, yet I tend to be naive and trusting to a fault (I do think that people are basically good – most of them anyway). Is it possible to be a skeptic but not a cynic? I tend to have a positive attitude, and was told recently that I have a certain “lightness of being” that is refreshing to be around. I know cynics. I love one. He claims not to be a pessimist, but a realist. It’s all fine and good, but it can occasionally drag me down. Cynicism in some instances is good, and I try to teach my children some skepticism, especially where advertising is concerned (“Don’t believe a word they tell you! Find out for yourself!”).
Did your questioning arise later in life, after you spent some time in adulthood, or were you one of those kids who asked “Why?” incessantly until you got an answer you could be satisfied with? Nowadays, I tend to ask “Why?” more often, as well as “What exactly are they trying to say to me/sell to me/get me to believe?”. Yet I still feel as though I come off as flaky when I change my opinion on something. But isn’t that what we all do? Accept that something is the truth until some evidence comes around that proves otherwise? And aren’t we all free to change our opinion?