Here comes the Pope.
Here comes the Pope,
In his Pope mobile.
In his Pope mobile.
This is the chorus of a song which school kids were forced to sing during the visit of Pope John Paul II to Britain in 1982. Well one school, the school I attended as a stupid ten year old. So stupid that I had a picture of the pope on my bedroom wall. Yes you heard me right deaf-o, I had a picture of the then alive pope on my bedroom wall. However I had to take it down at night because the face would loom out of the dark. An irony which was lost on me at the time.
In fact, right up to being fourteen I was a rosary bead carrying left footer. In fact I even considered becoming a priest. However one day I had the opposite of a divine revelation. You see I loved science when I was a kid. Chemistry was my favourite with Physics and Biology making up second and third place. Tomorrow’s World was one of my favourite television shows: although I used to tune out when Judith Hann went on and on about breasts and lady troubles. As I say; Biology was only my third favourite science.
So back to my anti-divine revelation.
One day I was lying in bed thinking- which was unusual because I was fifteen and in bed. While laying there, not wanking or even thinking about wanking, I thought about evolution. Now I knew that evolution was a true thing, it happened, we evolved from apes, end of story. In fact I even knew that we evolved from a particular species of Ape, which is why there are still apes around today. So why did the Catholic Church tell me that Adam and Eve were the first fully formed Homosapiens? Surely they must have read about Charles Darwin? It was in the newspapers and everything: I had to find out so there was only one thing for it, I had to become a detective.
The more I looked into what the church was telling me, the less it made sense and slowly the tapestry of my religious belief unravelled, then one day I realised that there was no god and Jesus was just a man. No doubt his followers, when challenged, would make up stories about how he cured lepers and rose from the dead. Because let’s face it, nobody wants to look a fool:
Bill: What happened to that ‘son of god’ you used to follow?
Ben: Oh him, he died.
Bill: Died!? What kind of son of god is he!?
Ben: But he came back to life.
Bill: Did he?
Ben: Yes, yes he did.
Bill: Blimey! Well played him. Where is he? I’ll buy him a pint.
Ben: Er, well he went to, er, um…heaven! That’s right! He went to heaven.
Bill: But I thought you said he came back to life.
Ben: He did but then went to, heaven.
These stories were written down and over a couple of thousand years they were twisted to serve the interests of an increasing powerful church. Of course the stories alone were not enough to keep the money pouring into its already bulging coffers, so it invented the concept of hell. Before then, the worst that could happen to you after death was a stretch in purgatory but now you could burn for all eternity. Then, purgatory didn’t exist for many years, it was simply the church’s first upgrade to their investment plan, hell being the second.
For years I was incredibly intolerant of religion. Somebody only had to say thst that they were going to church and I would boil inside. Of course I’m a nice man so would never say anything out loud. But a voice in my head would always shout “how can an intelligent person believe in such horse shit?”
However over the years I’ve become more tolerant. In fact I quite like Vicars and Rabbis, who are, for the most part, nice people attempting to make the world a better place. However I will never speak to a Catholic priest. Not until the church changes its policy on contraception, which every year, condemns thousands of people to a slow and painful death.
God: Whoa! This is supposed to be a funny blog Wolfenden!
Sorry, pretend god.
Now there is new religion in town, it is called Skeptism and their dogma is science, or at least they say it is. A few months ago I attended a meeting of Skeptics. To begin with they looked like a group of intelligent people and I found them reasonably easy to talk to. The conversation began pleasantly enough and we chatted about the exciting work that CERN are doing and the godfather of rationalism Richard Dawkins. Then I steared the conversation onto other subjects. This is when I learned that people who believe in acupuncture, hypnosis or the possibility of extra terrestrial life are “imbeciles”. Their words not mine.
Now I thought that scientists were suppose to be open minded? When presented with a theory, no matter how ridiculous. Aren’t they are supposed to test it to see if it stands up to scrutiny and if it doesn’t, well, only then reject it? What they are not supposed to do is call the person presenting the theory an imbecile! By doing so they are exhibiting the behaviour of the most fundamental of religious adherents.
This is a great pity, because I believe that science is about finding answers but is not an answer in itself. So let religious people believe in their supreme beings and let the scientist poke things to discover how they work. Yes, religion is the product of a bygone age and has been the cause of death and destruction for thousands of years but it can also be a comfort to people who find the idea of a life ending, simply too much to comprehend.
Oh and Skeptics, get your act together. Don’t become another intolerant religious group, we’ve got plenty of those already.