I grew up in Britain during those grim, grey - but, oddly, hopeful - years immediately following World War II. At that time, it seemed everyone was thanking God that a cruel, dangerous, and presumably unChristian enemy had been defeated; there was compulsory prayers, hymn singing and a sermon from the Headmaster (Principal) every morning at school; virtually everyone at least professed Christianity, even if few ever went to church except for baptisms, weddings and funerals. My own family was Unitarian, which is probably the most liberal brand of Christianity, but for a while we were caretakers at the local Unitarian chapel and thus “expected” to attend services, social occasions, harvest festivals, etc….
In such an environment one absorbs Christianity by a kind of osmosis. If anyone had asked me I would have said I was Christian, but I wasn’t especially interested in religion. We had what was called Religious Education in school - which was really Bible study from a strictly orthodox, Protestant point of view, no other religions were even given a mention - but I failed the final exam, dismally. My Religious education teacher was deeply disappointed in me.
It was only later - I was about 14 or 15 - I started to read the Bible in any sort of systematic way, and I immediately ran into problems. I read the Garden of Eden story, and started to wonder why God forbade Adam and Eve from eating the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, and why he had to lie about it; “...in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” I read on, and found a supposedly omniscient God saying to Abraham, “Prove that you love me; sacrifice your firstborn son.” And Abraham says, “Sure, no problem. Will tomorrow morning do?” And a bit later, the story of Lot, supposedly the only Righteous Man in all of Sodom and Gomorrah, offering his little girls to be gang raped by a mob of perverts…... and I began to wonder, a bit.
Being a studious sort of kid, I began to read other stuff. Buddhism, a religion apparently without Gods and without warlike pretensions, attracted me for a while, but the idea of spending long hours meditating seemed kind of boring. I read Swedenborg, Blavatsky, Max Heindel, flirted with Rosicrucianism briefly, read about UFOs, leylines, magic(k) and Sacred Geometry; then I read Gerald Gardner’s books on Witchcraft. Woohoo!! Prancing around in the woods with naked girls!! This is the religion for me!!
Unfortunately I could’t find a Coven where I lived. I considered starting one of my own, but none of the girls I knew expressed any interest (I wonder why….). Eventually other interests prevailed; the necessity for earning a living raised its ugly head, and I began studying science and engineering seriously. I emigrated to Canada, worked as a mining geologist, got married, got divorced, but kept on studying. Evolution made a lot more sense to me than the Biblical creation story, but I couldn’t entirely put religious - or at least - for want of a better word - spiritual - ideas out of my mind. I read John Lilly, Timothy Leary, Robert Anton Wilson, Aleister Crowley. I became an Initiated Thelemite (Ordo Templi Orientis) and an initiated Witch. I even led my own coven, for a while (!!)
So, to today. As far as most versions of God are concerned, I’m an atheist. I recognise the traditional images of Gods as Jungian archetypes, personifications of aspects of our own minds, for the most part; but I don’t entirely dismiss the idea of powerful other “beings” existing in alternative Universes, who might, for reasons of their own, interact in some way with our own Universe - but who, again for reasons of their own, have made very sure to have given us humans no unambiguous evidence of their existence. I don’t believe in them, any more than I believe that UFOs are alien spacecraft, or that ghosts are apparitions of the dead….. I just wonder a bit, sometimes, late at night…...
This has the advantage that I don’t have a “position” or “opinion” to defend; I can listen to anyone and decide for myself whether what they say makes any sense or not (mostly not, it seems). Science, to me, makes far more sense than any religion; but I recognise that science does not, yet, know everything; and I recall how eminent scientists of the calibre of Lavoisier once dismissed meteorites as superstitious nonsense, and…... I wonder a bit…...
‘bye for now.