Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Does your ferret have religion?

Do you ever wonder why your ferret doesn't have faith? Why your dog doesn't have religion? Why your cat doesn't give a damn about church, morality and whether or not he was created? Has your fish ever hosted a Bible study?

When I was a child, I couldn't understand why animals didn't get married. Even as young as 5, I knew that having babies outside of marriage was wrong. I didn't know why, but this dogma had already been pounded into my head. There seemed to be a double standard: one cannot have babies outside of marriage, but animals do it every day and animals were loved and praised and protected. But that nice woman down the street who never married the father of her child? What a harlot!! So why do animals get a free pass? Why can they fornicate with reckless abandon and still rank higher than the human members of society when they all do the exact same thing?

It was this same time that I wanted my Kermit the Frog doll to make an honest woman out of me, and so in a very small and private ceremony, we wed. I didn't want to marry Kermit because I felt we loved each other but because I thought our relationship should be made proper--yes, I was brainwashed early.

One day I asked my mother why it was that animals could joyfully do the very things that we Christians were forbidden from doing. Because humans have souls, she explained, and animals didn't (never mind that humans are animals too--I wouldn't realize this for another 20 years). At the time, this made perfect sense. Animals didn't have a soul to blemish, so they could rape, murder and pillage each other and still be innocent. "Dog be dog" my mother would say, when my dog would mangle a kitty or hump another dog or gleefully spread his legs and lick his balls with gusto.

Without realizing it, the religious community embraces this kind of thinking and creates a giant moral conundrum: morality has become subjective. No longer is the morality of the act itself judged, yet the morality of the act is entirely dependent on what species you are. Morality, dependent on biology? Heaven forbid! I thought morality was God's Standard, unchangeable and perfect. How, then, can it be dependent on what species you are?

The other major problem is that no one asks for proof of the soul. What is this soul thing? Can it be seen, touched, felt, heard, measured? No. Like everything else in religion, it must be taken on faith. It is another one of those dogmas that you just decide to believe in it, rather than have a reason to believe in it. Why do we have souls, and all the other animals don't? What makes us so friggin' special?

Nothing. That's my answer, anyway. Doesn't mean we're not awesome (we are!), but do we really need to make shit up to have a basis of morality? I wish the religious would stop and think about how suspiciously human God is. God thinks this and that, likes this and that, hell--he even looks like us! How cool! Somehow God always manages to believe in the same things you do, and those people over there who believe differently from you... well, they've just got it all wrong. They don't understand God. They are bad, evil people who willfully reject God's Truth.

The main thing that separates humans from the rest of the animals is our brain: our brain is uniquely capable of rational and complex thought. So capable, in fact, that we are the only species able to believe in shit that doesn't actually exist! We can also communicate immaterial things like concepts, ideas, and philosophies that certainly do exist even though they aren't material. The bad stuff happens when we diverge from ideas based off of observations of fact and jump into the crazy world of ideas based on It Would Be Really Neat If This Were Real, or I Don't Know All the Answers So God Did It!

In my opinion the "I Don't Know All the Answers So God Did It" concept is what birthed religion. Over time religion has become exceedingly diverse, and Weird Shit gets compounded onto Older Weird Shit and before long you have a Really Big Ball of Weird Shit but It Must Be True Because It's So Old and Complicated!!!! I remember when I first told my sister that I was questioning religion. It really freaked her out. How dare I presume to know more than what the Church had taught me? "The Church is over 2,000 years old--I figure it knows what it's doing," were her exact words. *facepalm* Neither the age nor complexity of a religion has anything to do with the factuality of its claims. Christianity is by no means the oldest religion, nor the first. There are a number of sociopolitical reasons that the world's major religions have survived this long, but again, that's another post.

My point to this whole rambling post is that humans are animals, and are unique in their ability to think complex thought. This ability leads to imagination and false logic as well as good logic; unfortunately it's the false logic (or lack of any logic) that has led to the invention of religion and imaginary deities. Our brains can work for us and against us. How do we fix this? We make sure that our logic, our beliefs, our investigations, our thoughts, our everything are rooted in FACTS of testable, observable phenomena. I'm not talking about being militantly scientific--although that would be awesome--but I'm talking about making sure that you have concrete reasons to believe in what you do. Investigate and challenge everything that you believe. I'm open to believing in anything, but the time to believe in something is when there is evidence for it and not before.

We don't have all the answers, but please, let's not Make Shit Up to solve mysteries. It's ok to say "I don't know, but I am working to find out."

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