Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Virgin Mary - a simple question from a young heathen

I have never been a religious person. My family, while from a Christian background, never practiced. We never prayed, went to church, read the Bible, etc. Even though I'm now fairly educated about Christianity, when I was a kid I was exposed to the stories of Christianity to a limited degree.

Rewind to Christmas, 1984. I attended a normal, public high school here in the United States. My 9th grade (14 years old) English class was having a Christmas party. We were sitting around, casually talking about Christmas. My teacher, we find out, is also a Sunday School teacher. The class begins an informal discussion about Christmas from a Christian, religious standpoint. The Virgin Mary comes up.

Now, before I tell the next part, it needs to be known that I was an excellent student. This was a gifted class. I was not a troublemaker in any way. I asked what seemed an extremely logical question:

"If Mary was a virgin, how did she have a baby?"

I might as well have said, "Jesus is a whore." The reaction by my teacher was shocking. He said something like, "How dare you ask such a foul question?" The class piled on with comments like, "That's not funny!" I felt completely dumb and didn't know why... and I still didn't know how a virgin could have a baby.

Later that day, I told my best friend what had happened. He replied, "You're lucky you didn't get sent to the principal's office." He saw the look on my face and said, "You really don't know do you?" He explained a little, not really understanding my level of ignorance.

I said, "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. It sounds like she got knocked up and made the greatest cover-up story ever told. What kind of God goes around knocking up women? Zeus used to do it all the time and nobody believes those stories."

He replied, "God didn't sleep with her. That's why she was still a virgin and it's called the Immaculate Conception."

I couldn't believe it. "People actually believe this?"

The story ends there, but it sticks with me today. I still can't believe that so many people believe it. How do these stories not seem like complete and utter hogwash? In what sort of bubble do people live to not realize that others might not believe it? How can an adult, with otherwise excellent logic, still believe these things?

I will probably never know. Nobody has ever been able to explain the suspension of logic and evidence to allow a leap of faith - a leap to something that makes little to no sense.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Evolution is not a threat to religion

Most Christians around the world can relax their worries about a conflict between evolution and their faith. There simply isn't one for most part. The only place where evolution conflicts with Christianity is in a literal interpretation of Genesis. Even then, if you stretch a few things (like the definition of days and nights), you can probably even wedge it in there.

I am certainly no expert on religion, but I do know that most of my Christian friends have interwoven the accepted science of the world into their faith. They've done it with intelligence and honesty. As an atheist, I don't accept what they do about religion. Yet somehow, within the confines of their belief system, their eyes are open enough to accept facts. Once you do that, a simple reconciliation of where those things meet allows your faith and intelligence to co-exist.

I've blogged about evolution before, but I'll make it even simpler. Evolution doesn't need much in terms of proof. It doesn't need Darwin's theories to explain HOW it happened. Evolution is evident in the fossil layer and in DNA as a fact that it DID happen. Life on Earth started simply, has evolved into complexity, and is interconnected. This has been tested ad nauseum in the scientific community and has NEVER been disproven. If it is disproven somehow, science will do a 180 and start over. That's the way science works.

I implore those that believe that evolution is "just a theory" to explore it for yourself. The following is an FAQ written that may provide some answers: God and Evolution