A thing is nothing, or is it?

25 03 2012

I was asked earlier, that if it was proven god existed, would I believe? Perhaps not the best framed question but it has led to loads of other interesting questions and debates on twitter. Most of which I am too lazy to resurrect and cannot remember.

The simple answer is obviously I would believe in the existence of god if there was proof before me. That does not mean, however, my stance would change. I would not follow this being, I would not worship this being, nor would I join any religion. If I am blatantly honest, I would not care.

I have never doubted the existence of Jesus or Mohammed, that does not mean I will follow the religions that live by the teachings of either prophet. To me the existence of god is irrelevant. There are far too many religions claiming ownership (if that’s the right word) to god to know which is the one who got it right. What if none of them have it right? What if god exists but isn’t the creator, what if god is just the caretaker, the toilet cleaner, a bored househusband, a nasty virus?

Interestingly enough, no one who does follow an organised religion can answer this resulting question, “if god existed but stated the only religion to be followed was that of e.g. the flying spaghetti monster, would you convert?”

One person took exception to my using the descriptor, “she” for god avoiding the question, another quite blatantly refused to acknowledge their god would find a different “religion” a more appropriate means of worship than their existing religion or denomination. And I guess this is where my issue with organised religion, belief and faith lies.

The unfaltering belief that their way is the right way against all others, the inability to consider that their way could be the wrong way or the not quite right way. Even the differences between followers of the same religion but different denominations appear to condemn each other to various nastiness. These modern christian denominations rarely take into account some of the earlier beliefs of Christianity, or that the evolution of Christianity for example will continue, so that in another 1000 or 2000 years only the names of the big players remain the same. I have real problems with this black and white view of right and wrong, this and that, the light and the dark etc. What about the next big rewrite of the bible? What then?

I respect those who choose to believe in an unprovable entity, providing they respect my choice not to. I cannot say I agree  with their beliefs and even if there was proof of existence, I know that it would not change my mind about following a religion. I am happy with myself and happy with knowing there is no deeper meaning to my existence. I am merely a spec on the face of this planet, my existence not accounting for even 1 second in the life scale of the planet.

I tried religion by attending Sunday school when I was 5. But if I’m honest I only went for the free lollipop at the end and they asked me not to return after my second visit because I had trouble believing what they were telling Me, I had to believe unquestioningly. I’m not sure if I’ve ever admitted that to my parents. I have attended many Catholic masses in my years for various relatives, and while I can appreciate the beauty and the boredom of the singing and togetherness, I can find those experiences elsewhere without associated guilt or lectures.

As a child of 7 I contemplated that perhaps life was where we were all acting out the imagination of some other person. I concocted a scenario whereby the events in my life were merely the thoughts of another human being. I wondered if perhaps i and everyone else on the planet was controlled by the thoughts of another, existing only inside their head. This was the closest I came to believing there was higher being but never attributed a god like status. I felt this was just an ordinary human being with some rather dull fantasies. I worried at this tender age about the lack of control I would have over my life if this were the case. I even considered if perhaps we were just cells floating around a body and interactions were just chemical reactions, normalised as social relationships to explain or appease us. I should point out neither of these theories lasted long and I was not on any anti-psychotic medication for thought interferences.

I was 7 years old. It prompted me to write a poem, it was very short and for the life of me I cannot remember the ending but the first two lines were, “a thing is nothing, nothing is a thing”. I still have the original in the attic and I do know beyond those two lines it all goes a bit existential. I was 7 years old ffs. No seven year old child should be having an existential debate with themselves. I worry that my daughter will have a similar existential crisis at such a young age. I do have concern that she will worry about her existence before she is able to understand or come to terms with it, or worse that at age 6 or 7 she feels she has to come to terms with it all.

If my daughter chooses to believe in a god, then that is her decision, I would however, discourage her from following an organised religion. Faith and religion are not mutually exclusive. Organised religion is where the trouble lies. If she chooses not to believe in god or organised religion then I can support her to accept her existence and be happy with it, to have faith in herself and to worship no one. Whatever she chooses to believe is personal to her, no one else’s business and it should not be a source of discomfort. That doesn’t mean its wrong, giving her hypothetical questions to mull over when she is mature enough to do so, or to allow her to question her environment in an appropriate manner. Belief or not she will have an open and enquiring mind. I hope she learns to question everything and not to blindly accept anything. Should she do otherwise, I will feel I have failed her.


I worry when I see people blindly following faith, none more so than those who believe prayer alone will heal all ills. I hope that, should my daughter choose religion, she will never follow blindly and unquestioningly to that extent. When  I read of a letter from a cross party group of MPs demanding an Advertising Standards Agency decision be reversed regarding the efficacy of faith healing, I nearly choked. First with laughter and then on the collection of flies gathering in my gaping mouth. After successfully reattaching my jaw to my skull, it confirmed for me that organised religion is really quite dangerous and all it takes are a few nutters in a position of power to cause immense problems for the rest of humanity.

These three MPs, representatives of tens of thousands of British citizens in what can only be termed a comedy letter asked the ASA, “On what scientific research or empirical evidence have you based this decision?” It should be noted the decision was to stop a christian faith group claiming god could heal people today. If such people demand empirical proof that god cannot heal, will they then succumb to demands to provide empirical proof and scientific research on the existence of god or that god can and will heal. For examples, in insurance policies, “Acts of God” are often exempt from coverage, if we could prove god did not exist, could we then remove such ridiculous spiritual elements from business? If it was proven god does exist and will heal people, would medical insurance have an act of god clause, whereby if faith healing had worked for anyone in the past, it would not be covered by the insurance? Would the NHS have similar clauses in its impending privatisation? The phrase I keep coming back to is, “are you fucking serious?”

In this day and age it is unthinkable, that three representatives of the people, in positions of power, running our country and paid for by the long-suffering taxpayer can with straight faces not only claim an unprovable god can heal ailments but feel they have the right to threaten an independent agency designed to protect the public from advertising fallacies. To consider they want to raise the issue in a parliamentary debate makes a mockery of the entire British political system. There is nothing wrong with saying a prayer, if you’re so inclined, to benefit someone who is sick in additional support of modern medical methodologies, but to claim that faith healing alone can heal ailments is naive and dangerous. To have people, who are responsible for the workings of a nation, argue that the right to claim faith healing alone can resolve illness or ailment is very dangerous indeed.  There is a distinct need to separate spiritual faith from the workings of the state, especially when dangerous claims are being made. There is a scary resurgence of faith-based governing in the United Kingdom and something needs to be done to stop it from doing real damage to society.





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