Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My story and why I'm a tooth fairy agnostic

     We'd just moved to Farmington, Maine and I was three and a half years old.  I was brought to VBS (vacation bible school) along with regular church attendance.  During one of the 'Love God or burn!' speeches, I weighed my options in my immature brain and decided on the former.  That was the start of my mentally slow life.  I was indoctrinated since birth with religion and never even heard of evolution until (to the best of my memory) I was about 10.  The indoctrination which I suitably call brainwashing haunted me for a very long time, but we'll get to that later.
     At any rate, when I was about 10 I heard of evolution in Sunday school.  I heard it being ridiculed by some apologist whose name escapes me.  There was a video series on why evolution is false which lasted around 8 weeks.  The apologist was bad enough at making a case that I'd have assumed it to be William Lane Craig, but for the fact that I recall him to at least have a good manner.  Several more series occurred before I turned 15 and learned skepticism, rational thought and the scientific method.
     I was a rabid young earth creationist.  I'm not ashamed of that, but for the merciless haranguing of one of my friends.  I'm not sure exactly how old he was when we met, but we discussed philosophy, religion and evolution.  I constantly spewed logical fallacies which I'd learned from the video apologists and various other thing my parents introduced me to.  I had a fortress of willful ignorance which no reason could lay siege to.
     My faith in God was always fairly strong, it was the only idea ever posed to me as valid.  I'd step outside on a summer morning and feel God all around me.  I'd look at mountains, rivers, trees, animals...  And see God in all of them.  What I never realized is that what I was seeing and feeling was an idea, not a reality.  It's trivially easy to slap the 'magic' label on everything and feel very satisfied when one's intellect is retained by religion.
    The tide started to change when I got to be about 15.  I couldn't see God everywhere and I couldn't feel him.  This was a result of several things including reading the Bible, skepticism and an actual realization that not every other theory was absolute rubbish inherently.
     I gave up Christianity temporarily to try other religions.  I looked at Wicca, mostly because magic is interesting.  When I realized that Wicca is a re-branding of any religion, I had to give it up too.  Wicca is based on asking spirits for favors, like prayer.  The difference is that these spirits in Wicca don't require your eternal devotion and love, they want trinkets and sacrifice.  Thinking again, I was thinking of it more like a new age spiritualism than the ancient Paganism which it is based upon.
     The next step along this journey was at least in the right direction.  I looked at Buddhism and rather liked it.  The philosophy in Buddhism is amazingly interesting, which it to it's credit as Buddhism is more a life philosophy than a proper religion.  That's why I eventually moved away from it, after learning some philosophy.  I found that I could borrow Buddhist philosophy without the pseudo-religious hooey.
     I tried briefly before and in between these to invent my own metaphysical ideas.  Mine was an omni-theistic philosophy in which nothing is to be worshiped, but everything is to be considered and heard out.  Everything had the potential to be great and the answer to almost any question.  While this decision obsoleted religious worship as most religions would have it, it was still ignorant.  I quote Richard Dawkins "Let us be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains fall out.".  That idea put the last nail in the coffin of my ideology.
     Throughout all of this transition I couldn't feel any enlightenment because all of the brainwashing from my young life was tormenting me mentally.  I spent all of my time thinking philosophically and scientifically.  To be fair, I don't regret this at all.  In the end it was rather worth the misery of the year-and-a-half it endured.  Despite that I shouldn't have had to endure it.  I walked away from that on this side a more rational person.
     From there, it was a quick trip from the faint belief I had left to Agnosticism to what is well termed 'Tooth Fairy Agnosticism'.  TFA is essentially atheism, which I normally identify as.  TFA allows for scientific possibility, against all odds.  I put God's existence on par in terms of likelihood with the tooth fairy or werewolves.  All of those are technically unfalsifiable, but horribly unlikely.  I'm tempted to call myself a Tooth Fairy Atheist, because that implies the improbability of God.  However creationists tend to consider Atheism an absolute claim, and for lack of better material they argue it.
     Atheism is probably the most wonderful ideology out there.  It allows me to fully appreciate the wonders of the universe without having to blame magic for it all.  It allows science to be influential instead of dismissed merely because it disagrees with an ancient text written in the desert by barbarians in the bronze age.  It allows reason, which cannot be adequately replaced by 'Because God said so.'.  Philosophy can be meaningful because we don't have to discard ideas which infringe upon a god.  We can understand origins without worrying about pissing off the almighty.

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