A Lack of Faith

1024px-ScarletLetterI am an Atheist.

This is no secret. I’ve mentioned it on the blog before, but I rarely delve into religious (or anti-religious) conversation here. The only time I really delved deep into the topic was on a Couch Podtatoes episode from over a year ago. In that show, my goal was to discuss religion in the gaming sphere, but also share personal experiences with religion. I wanted a balanced panel of guests, but the ones I managed to get onto the show were mostly non-religious or didn’t really practice much of anything. This means the discussion wasn’t as balanced as it could have been, but quite frankly I probably enjoyed the conversation more as a result.

I’m writing this post as a response of sorts, to a fellow blogger who wrote about his own feelings regarding gaming and religion. Not necessarily how the two correlate as we discussed on the aforementioned podcast, but rather about how his time spent gaming might be better spent worshiping God. His is a very nuanced post and I encourage you to read it, regardless of your feelings on the subject matter. Braxwolf is someone I consider a good guy, and I respect him and his feelings about religion, despite the fact that I wholly disagree with them. Let’s start with some back story.

My father went to a Baptist school. He was raised in a religious household to some extent. I’m sure my mother was exposed to it as well, but she doesn’t talk much about her childhood and it seems that she wasn’t particularly religious until later in life. Either way, I wasn’t exposed to church, the bible or religion in general at an extremely young age as most people are. I was probably nearing 10 years old the first time I stepped into a church. I remember Sunday school feeling fun and exciting. I remember sitting in “adult church” as being rather boring, but the songs were alright. I remember reading the bible from cover to cover, but not much of it sticking. Indoctrination still tends to work at these early ages though, and my doubts seemed to crumble when surrounded by like-minded individuals. Fast forward a few years, where surging hormones dictate many of your actions, and I was soon cursing the existence of the bible, Jesus, et al.

Sure it sounds like an extremely selfish reason to forsake my eternal soul, but this young man had needs, and his first real girlfriend was “saving herself for marriage” and was further pressured by a mother that worked at a church full time to wait. That was the beginning of the end of religion for me. If a book can dictate the way I’m going to live my life, then I’m throwing out the book. If a ticket to an eternity in hell is being punched for me due to having some fun in my youth, then so be it. I seriously doubt if a hell truly existed, that it would be all fire and brimstone, nay I’m sure it would be filled to the brim with down to earth, awesome people who just so happened to say the lord’s name in vain, hurt someone vengefully, or happened to enjoy drugs a little too much while dining on bacon wrapped shellfish and performing consensual sodomy on their loving partner. It was made clear to me that most of the things I enjoyed, “pleasures of the flesh” if you will, are considered sins and that was enough for me to question everything about this religion I was supposed to follow.

Over the years, between music, popular media, my own research and life experiences I’ve grown further from that child that innocently accepted what everyone was telling me to be true. I cannot accept things that cannot be proven by the scientific method. No, I don’t worship science. I don’t worship the god of tech or the god of tits and wine. I would be more likely to worship the latter two than the Christian God though. Unfortunately, this religion has been a part of western culture for so long that it’s impossible to keep myself from saying phrases like “Oh my God” or “Jesus H Christ!” Like Braxwolf, I do notice religious connotation all around us, and have even seen things that many would say was “God’s way of showing himself to me.” However, I can’t buy anything on blind faith. I’m sorry, but that’s not how the world works. Some would have you believe that heaven lies somewhere between the earth’s crust and the sky, but we’ve been to space and know what’s really up there. Hell is supposed to be below, but all that lie there is molten rock at the core of our planet. There is little (misconstrued) to no evidence of any of the events in the bible even happening. I don’t even think that Jesus was a real man no, more of a Herculean figure used to inspire. Men have told tall tales for millenia, why is Jesus anything different?

It’s not just Christianity that turned me off though. No, I’ve done research into many other religions and they’re all simply too hard to swallow. But let’s be clear now: I don’t judge anyone for having made a choice to stick with their chosen faith. It’s your right to do so just as much as it’s my right to not participate. With that said, I’d like to circle back around to some of the commentary Braxwolf made when considering gaming’s compatibility with his faith. From what I gather from the article, his most difficult issue to deal with is the fact that gaming is such a time consuming hobby, and he feels like he should be spending more time being pious. To that, I only have one answer, and it’s not one many will like. Simply put, don’t worry about it.

If my understanding of the Christian faith is correct, it seems to me that you are already walking the righteous path. You have already chosen to live your life by the golden rule and do your best to be a good person each day. You wake up, you work to support your family, you seem like an amazing father, and you do your best to take the lemons life gives you by turning them into lemonade. If Jesus/God really exist, I’m sure you’re on the good list and have your eternity in heaven waiting for you, regardless of if you cut out gaming in favor of religious pursuits. Really, I’d say you could throw religion out of the window, because I feel like I do the same sorts of things in my daily life, and I’m not waiting for that heavenly reward. You don’t need religion to be a good person. Just be one.

So instead of stressing yourself out on the little things you aren’t doing to increase your faith levels, focus on the good things you did today, and maybe reward yourself with a little gaming. It’s not going to hurt anyone.