Members of the Cornell University Glee Club and Chorus were asked to perform at a wedding on campus yesterday, and as a member of the Glee Club, I volunteered to sing. This wedding, being a Catholic one, was quite traditional, and left me feeling quite uneasy about my participation in the ceremony.
I have renounced any belief in the Judeo-Christian God for about 8 years. I grew up in an Episcopalian church in Rochester, NY and it was quite a liberal experience. Though I appreciate what religion can do for many around the world, I find it stifling, and often quite demeaning. As I listened to the prayers, I was overwhelmed by a feeling of unease. Questions filled my head: How can anyone subject themselves to complete obedience to something of which they know so little? How can anyone find this comforting, to relinquish control to some "being" that most likely does not exist? Why do members of our society, despite incredible evidence against it, continue to believe in such an archaic set of beliefs?
I found myself wishing I could get up and leave. My heart began to race, fueled by the "fight-or-flight" instinct. I felt threatened, not only personally, but also I felt a threat to our entire society. We see, on a practically daily basis, how the Abrahamic religions are holding us back in many different ways. We are paralyzed by our fear that disbelief will mean condemnation, but all forget that the concepts of hell and purgatory are Medieval conceptions fabricated by the Roman Catholic Church to provoke incredible fear. These conceptions are just as despicable, just as reprehensible, as the tithe. These conceptions invoke a fear that is very real, but it has been seen time and time again that obedience caused by means of fear always falls.
There is hope. The population of "non-believers", those who do not profess a belief in the God of Abraham, is growing rapidly. With the ability of science to definitively answer questions that were historically answered by religious doctrines, we are able to let our belief in the Judeo-Christian God go. We no longer need a priest, an imam or a rabbi to interpret the scriptures for us — we have scientists that can do this for us! Our scientists, their theories based upon facts (things we know to be true, not just a guess or a belief), have given us verifiable beliefs. Skepticism is welcomed. It is a wonderful thing to be a part of the scientific world!
Listening to the prayers professing ultimate devotion to some being no one actually knows, I became uneasy. Our society can do better than this. We must be determined to live in a more fact-based society… we must.