I tend to keep my religious discussions between me and my dog. He wags his tail when I talk to him and all is good on earth. Having a discussion about why I don’t believe in religion with a deeply religious friend has always been fraught with danger. The danger is loss of respect, or more correctly stated, a consequential, damaging change in opinion of either myself or my friend.
Is there a superior being who dictates our lives? Is there a power above what we can see and comprehend? How about an energy that we have never imagined, or even a possible universe we may have glimpsed but failed to understand. How about something that is invisible, has no odor or sign of its existence? Enter my friend, Mr. Electron.
I know Mr. Electron exists: He jolted me from my forefinger to my armpit just the other day when I accidentally, although foolishly, violated one of his Commandments: Thou Shalt Insure Mr. Electron is Insulated From Your Wretched Soul When You Touch His Conduit of Life! I was helping a neighbor replace a rather large electric motor when he turned on a 220 volt circuit breaker without telling me and I was spectacularly reminded of the often misunderstood Commandment that will make a devout, true believer out of any technical Pagan.
The difference to me between god-power and electricity isn’t all that complex. I know electricity exists even though my dog doesn’t. I know there is evidence of powers or abilities or conditions we simply do not comprehend as humans. I can not see or detect these invisible powers either, as I can not look at a piece of copper wire and see electrons, at least not without human intellectual intervention. While I deeply, reverently respect electricity, I do not worship it. I can not see the existence of the unknown prowess that subjugates the religious believers either, but the difference between me and them is I do not worship this unknown power any more than I worship electricity. My dog doesn’t worship me because I can turn on a light and banish darkness, he worships me because I love him and he in return, loves me. Well, maybe food, too.
I find religion is a communal attitude that ensures strength in numbers, a unified defense, or quite often offense, designed to protect the whole from the unknown dangers from outsiders. It inherently creates a competitive, tribal type of isolationism that either has to convert and then absorb any non-compliant beliefs, or to at least dominate them. The worst case scenario in my lifetime was when the Christian Germans annihilated over six million non-Christians – the Jews – systematically without remorse while believing they were within bounds of one of their own covenants: Thy Shall not Kill.
So, I tend to keep my religious discussions between me and my dog. He wags his tail when I talk to him and all is good on earth.