I really can't believe it has taken me this long to apply critical thinking to something as profound as my religious beliefs. Given that I am in my fourth decade as a journalist, a profession that forces me to be skeptical and curious, you'd think I would have given some thought to something as important as religion.
But there's a good reason for it: I've never had much use for a god. You see, I was raised Roman Catholic, but not because my parents were overly religious; they were both raised that way and it was just what you did for your children in the late 20th century in New England. In retrospect, I never really bought into the dogma, and if an eight-year-old with a vivid imagination finds the bible's teachings to be a bit ridiculous, how can an adult be expected to buy into this fable?
So I suppose I did, after all, use some critical thinking as a youngster, just not with a mature mind. It was more rebellion and resentment. My contempt for my religion was borne from the "sacrifice" I had to make each Saturday morning fulfilling some worthless comical ritual (after attending school all week) while my parents never gave up any of their Sundays to practice the same religion they were forcing me to learn. My critical thinking concluded there was some hypocrisy going on, but now as an adult how could I blame them?
My biggest enjoyment at catechism, other than the moment when we were dismissed, was erasing "IS GOD" from my white textbook where it once read "CHRIST IS GOD" and spelling out my first name CHRISTOPHER. That was the extent of the respect I had for Jesus and his story, which may sound ironic given I was conceived Christmas morning and named after him.
But my disdain faded once I completed the final ritual (confirmation) and didn't have to do anything in the name of Jesus anymore. After I was freed from the bondage, I never gave religion another thought. Sure, I prayed when the mood struck me, but it was mostly robotic, mindless repetition of words I didn't believe, and only when I needed/wanted something, which never felt right anyway.
About a decade later, I wanted to get married, but the church wouldn't let me. Why? Because my fiancée was divorced with children. It didn't matter that she was raised Catholic, attended Catholic schools and knew more about the religion than most of its false worshipers who knelt every Sunday but had no idea why. This elitist act of snobbery was par for the course in my mind, and the ensuing request for $700 to cleanse my wife's sin was the final nail in the cross for me. From that moment on, I considered myself anti-religion and avoided church and any god like the plague.
Nearly two decades after that, I found myself face-to-face with religion again, but this time it was fanatically coming from inside my family. I can honestly say it is this reason that I decided to give religion one more shot, but not in the blind-faith-do-as-we-are-told manner, but rather with a journalist's thirst for truth using logic and reason. I wanted to see what all the hubbub was about, I wanted to see if I could be inspired. And I was, but not in the way you may think.
In future posts, I will explain all of the critical thinking and research I have explored over the past year that has led me to the place known as atheism.