I was late to the Harry Potter party. The fourth movie was showing on HBO one night and I said, “whatever.” But I guess I was in the right mood because I went ahead and watched the first three movies, too. Then I went out and bought the books. This was just a few weeks before the release of book number six so I had some catching up to do. I’d say I was caught up in about three days.
The good news is that I still had plenty of time to draw my own conclusions about what was coming next and how the series would end. I’m not sure what amount of brain power was devoted to Horcrux calculations, but I was full of clever ideas. We love playing that game, don’t we? We like a thing to come together and fit like a puzzle. Some of us are really good at it.
With so much mystery surrounding us every day it is no surprise that we also use this skill to piece together the universe and meaning of life. It may have been the main ingredient in keeping my faith alive for so long. The bible has more than a few holes in it, but filling them is easy. Maybe even fun. And sometimes it is a necessary part of belief.
If I am honest with myself, there were too many moments of disbelief in my walk with god. Every once in a while it would hit me and I would think this is ridiculous. Why do I believe this? Maybe it would be just a split second thought. Or perhaps I would sit and spend half a Sunday sermon on the possibility. It didn’t count as doubt because there was never any real threat. I just assumed that if I thought about it longer and did a little research I would be able to talk myself back into believing.
So I pushed that disbelief out of my mind until it could be analyzed at a later date; and in the meantime I accepted the belief conclusion I was so sure I would inevitably come to as if I had already come to it. Then my mood would change and I wouldn’t care for a while. But if I did actually think harder about it, I could absolutely find the answer I needed.
Even now I could make the pieces fit. You want a good Christian argument? Give me a minute to think about it, but I’m your girl. It’s a useful tool when talking to Christians who aren’t so good at it. No one wants Christ to convict them through an atheist, you know. It’s very confusing. They usually respond by telling me that there is still hope for me, or seem confused about my opinion on god altogether. Really, it’s just evidence that habits are hard to break.
But when you do that over and over again as a believer there is one thing you have to watch out for. That moment when doubt asks the question: why do I have to cleverly piece this shit together so often?
Sure it used to make me feel accomplished or smart or faithful or who knows what…. but it also feels like defending a conspiracy theory. If I simply apply the theory that there is no god, then there is no puzzle to solve. Everything falls into place. What fun is that?
Real life is different from books. The longest and most dramatic path to the right answer may be more interesting, but it is far less likely. Questions about the afterlife, why god allows evil, why god requires us to solve the puzzle at all? These are mysteries that Christian apologists spend more than a little time explaining. Brilliant minds sometimes devote their entire careers dissecting religious texts and history in an effort to verify various god theories.
Or maybe there is no god. That one sentence solves all three of those mysteries, doesn’t it? And I don’t know how to ignore that. People are willing to die for beliefs they cannot verify until they are dead. We put the concept of faith on such a high pedestal, but why? I guess because god offers meaning for some people.
So, let’s say everything is about god. He created us and our sole purpose is to get back to him and spend eternity worshiping him. The path he takes to implement that plan is insane. So many questions. So many better ways to get to that blissful eternity….how could any of it be true? And then to know that we have to figure it out from vague clues and hope we got it right is seriously hard to swallow. Except that’s the part we like, I think.
Truthfully it means we are bound to get a lot of it wrong; which is the only part that makes any sense. We know nothing. And what was god thinking?
Then there is the devil, Satan, who exists for no other purpose than to be the ultimate villain in god’s plan. There are more holes in the god versus Satan story than anything else. No two versions are the same. Satan is not necessary.
It’s weird how the good guys in this scenario are the ones who end up destroying the world and living forever. It’s just one big elaborate plan to find immortality through magic. That seems more like the goal of a bad guy. What if the bible is just Satan’s most elaborate trick of all and Christians have been worshiping Satan all along?
Good thing I don’t believe in god or Satan.
Is this the meaning of life? Well, once upon a time I did take all that information and make the pieces fit for me. Idiot or genius? Fuck, I don’t know. It’s a strange route that reasoning sometimes takes. I know the same ability led me out of that mind trap, too, so I consider it a gift. Because as I have said many times before: the Christian who is good at making the pieces fit is also the Christian who is most at risk for doubting god.