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Religion of intelligence

Religion means little to nothing for me anymore. It’s merely another facet of learning on the diamond of life.

I say this because knowledge is my new religion, it’s been that way for years, but only recently did I decide to “baptize” myself into this religion of knowledge. Only recently did I decide that the knowledge of all subjects would culminate in me solving the mysteries of life for myself, not a god.

I am often surprised to discover how many of my peers, like me, attended a Catholic school.

Every time the topic of religion comes up, so do my memories of Catholic school. However, before I even get one complaint out, I am usually interrupted by someone who shared the experience.

“I went to Catholic school too,” one of them would say before being echoed by a few other students in the class.

Funny thing is, I know of very few Catholic school graduates who continue to practice the faith, other than an annual visit to church on Christmas.

For me, Catholic school taught me the Catholic faith – one method for solving the mysteries of life on Earth and living happily ever after – and little more. In the end, was it beneficial? Well, it didn’t take eight years of schooling to teach me the one-sentence golden rule, I know that!

But that rigorous instruction, including religion class several times a week and church twice a week for eight years, probably ingrained in my memory permanently a certain set of morals which will follow me the rest of my life.

However, intensive brainwashing is not the only reason these morals will follow me – my personal preferences matter, too.

For example, I will always treat others the way I wish to be treated, as the golden rule suggests. I was taught this principle over and over again in school. I learned the history of the rule and examples of its use today. The rule was the basis for much of the Catholic school disciplinary system.

Now, that’s all fine and dandy, but the point is I am a nice person who cares about others. You take Catholic school away from me and I still feel exactly the same way about others. Why? I discovered it to be the best policy as I interacted with the world around me. It became my preference through experience.

So, the instruction I received on the golden rule served only to bolt down an idea I already knew I liked.

Religion seemed to me to be an attempt to make the world’s mysteries fall into a neat little story. The mystery of homosexuality, the mystery of the possibility of extraterrestrial life, the mystery of love, the mystery of how science should be used and the mystery of temptation, the mystery of death: I found myself trying to place these mysteries into the Roman Catholic story so that my critical thinking did not undermine my faith in god.

When I found out my friend was a homosexual in high school and – as a Catholic – participated in the discrimination that is so prevalent towards such people in our society today, I learned for the first time that religion just can’t keep up with society.

The Bible is not a living document. There are no biblical amendments. You can’t bring back Jesus with a two-thirds majority vote.

As I watched my friend get called a “faggot” and saw the sadness in his eyes, well, one day I just decided that I wasn’t going to be the person to tell him that he could never get married – no matter how hard he tried – because I don’t agree with his beliefs.

Those who support legislation such as the Defense of Marriage Act, many of whom justify it with personal, religious beliefs, are the discriminators of the 21st century. I’m proud to say I’m not one of them.

So, the more I thought about the plight of my friend, the less I was able to justify in my own mind the belief that marriage is only between a man and a woman.

I combined all my experiences, the instruction I have received in biology and philosophy and from them I defined my religion. I don’t just use the bible to figure out my world, I use everything I know.

In the end, my thought processes will always win. Nothing could make me believe in the same god as those who are suppressing the rights of my homosexual friends. Nothing could make me believe in a religious hierarchy that is sexist and promotes situations like those which lead to the molestations.

The situation unfolding in the news recently, involving the evangelical preacher, Ted Haggard and homosexual prostitution, is just one more example of the way the bible has a wall between it and reality. Don’t you agree?

Make up your own mind. That’s the new religion.

Send comments to Matt Clark at [email protected].

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