When I was fourteen, I made my Biology teacher
cry. Reality and expectations are so often polar opposites
, creating an indiscernible confusion
for impressionable minds
. Children trust their parents and elders
to provide them with information that is both factual and moral. But this line blurs at the idea of religion
: Should a ‘belief’, one which can be equally interpreted as fact by one party and fiction by another, be placed into a child’s set of beliefs to instruct subordination
? If it was as simple as a means to create better mannered human beings, the conflict would not arise, but it is the ‘faith’ in the intangible
that creates the blur, and when a child sees both facets of possibility
, questioning one’s teachings is not far behind. Langston Hughes
’ belief deception resulted in a moving and thought-provoking work of art as Salvation, where as mine erupted, rather than blossomed. While feelings of religious deceit
are similar among the deceived, the reactions and confrontations to those factual invalids
are anything but.
was always a taboo subject
for me. I could never understand why people would willingly damn themselves to eternal suffering
, merely by refusing to attend church once a week. In my experiences, church represented a necessary evil, akin to medicine and work; a little pain
now will secure positive results in the future. Of course, I wasn’t that analytical when I was six. I knew I did not enjoy church. I knew my father was at home, reading the paper, enjoying himself. I knew my best friend Carlos, was either still sleeping, or up watching cartoons
. But I also knew that fire hurt. A lot. Fearful of my own endless torture, I willingly followed my mother every Sunday to the church.
Throughout the seemingly random
location jumping that constitutes my life, I’ve had the experience of attending many churches, in varying cultural locales, and much to the similarity of Langston, I too could bide my time. After so many of the same beliefs being hawked verbatim in so many different places, first a revelation of massive unity becomes obvious, and later a callusing. Watching a movie or reading a book over and over becomes meaningless
, so why do these people return week after week to hear the same stories over and over? There’s a reason Christians are called Lambs of Christ
: young, trusting, sheep. They’ll follow blindly their master
to the end of the Earth. But I too was too clouded to realize my deception just yet.
It took a move to Brazil
to start me on a track to self, as well as universal, realization of truth. An English-speaking church right in the heart of Baha (a section of Rio de Janeiro), so now at least if we were living in Hell (our opinion of the country was not one of a positive incarnation), we would still be able to thank our God for placing us there. And then it happened. The spark of my disbelief
. Langston never saw Jesus, even though he was expected to, thus fueling his questioning of the church’s factual backing. I was never born again. I told my Sunday School
class, when I was put on the spot, that I was, but it was just a lie. It was fear of alienation. Everyone else had stories of religious affirmation and enlightenment
, and I had a falsity. Perhaps I was doomed to burn in the fiery pits of hell, regardless of all my wasted time at church.
The church had used its devious ways against me once again. It feared me into breaking a commandment to save my assumed purity, just as Langston went against his teachings to ‘save’ himself. “Was I really the problem”, I began to wonder, “or is the church the problem.” For years, I contemplated the puzzle, covering my basis by continuing to attend church, but questioning everything I was told.
In direct correlation to the fellowship in Salvation, it is now apparent to me why churches attempt to secure the members when they are young: they are impressionable and easily scared. Throwing the entire biblical impossibilities
aside, let us take the ideal of ‘sin cleansing’ through communion. If I can eat a wafer and drink a shot of wine and rid myself of a lifetime of sin, there is a large conflict of interest between the U.S. Government and the Church. As a child, blindly I followed the inane thinking, but now that I was free to dissect the services, holes and red warning lights popped up all around me in a haze of disbelief. How could those who I held in such high regard be duped into fraudulent beliefs
? My moral web was falling apart as contradiction after contradiction pulled at its delicate fibers.
And here we arrive. The moment of my salvation. It started with an offer: my teacher offered me a solution to the predicament that had been plaguing me every Sunday for three years. My ninth-grade Biology teacher offered me Darwinism.
Religion and ‘beliefs’ are banned from schools in the United States due to the ‘Separation of Church and State
’ policy. Darwinism
was initially based on the beliefs of Charles Darwin
, but was later proved, something Christians haven’t been able to do for their belief system in the history of their ideology, and thus Darwinism can be taught in schools. Darwinism (and it’s more common referral, Evolutionism
) is invaluable to the teachings of Biology, Geology, and Astronomy, as it gives positive explanation for animal succession (or why we look/act/behave the way be do), correlation dating, and a basis for the explanation of space/time events. Religion is based on faith. And as much faith as I tried to put forth, I couldn’t figure in an all-knowing, all-powerful, triforced, invisible being into the picture.
“And thithss is Charles Darwin,” informed Ms. Coch. She seemed to have a touch of a speech impediment, and oftentimes spat when she got excited about a topic of personal importance. I soon learned to dodge.
“Darwin’s book, The Origin of Species
, created quite a controversy for him when initially published,” said Ms. Coch, “Even into the twentieth century, when evolution had been scientifically accepted, instances of moral backlash were evident.”
“Such as Scopes
?” I offered. It wasn’t really a question. I had discovered the chapter on evolution long before this day, and made myself familiar with its turbulent history.
“Exssellent example. The Scopes ‘Monkey Trial
’ is one of the most famoutss examples of thithsss ethical disbeliefff,” replied Ms. Coch. She was grinning at me for making such a keen correlation
. She wouldn’t think so highly of me for long.
“I have another question,” I said. It was all a plan… with the student body I was surrounded (by a group of ‘Magnet’ students, attending a school centered on oceanic sciences), such a line of questioning should most definitely be expected, “What is your religion
“Uh… umm… excuse me?” stammered the teacher.
“I’m just interested in which religion you subscribe to,” I replied.
“Not that it’sss of really any relevance, but I am Christian.” She must have known exactly where I was going with this.
“Excellent… so what is it? Is it Creationism or Darwinism
? You can’t very well have both now, can you? Choose.”
“What?” She looked around the room for any sign of support, but it was obvious
: the class had sided with me now. One cannot believe an ideal, and also believe the direct opposite.
“If you choose your religion, than I might as well leave right now, because I won’t be able to believe another word out of your mouth. On the other hand, if you choose science, than I have to wonder why you feel the need to conform
to the conservative created standard of moral code
. So, I state again, choose,” I demanded, as I folded my arms and leaned back in my chair, completely justified
I never received the answer to the question. Ms. Coch burst in tears as a result of my line of questioning, the unsympathetic
class, and her own inner conflict, and left the class unattended. Instead of going to class the next day, I sat quietly in the office, and was later assigned to an alternate classroom. Ms. Coch was transferred to an alternate school.
Children’s minds are much like computers
: one can put in vast amounts of information, but if conflicting information is found, an error
is announced. Unlike computers, the announcement of that error is unpredictable. Langston and I were both deceived by the people we trusted the most, by family and respected adults. As a child, conflict in any form can cause substantial strife, but eternal strife brought on by the ones that are cared about most is unnerving. Langston created, and I destroyed, both as a result of the same stimuli
. But we both held on as long as we could. We are only human
, and it is our nature to protect ourselves. Even if it means going it alone