Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Balls of Religion

 I’ve read, listened, studied and pondered over countless religious questions formed over the ages. Just to name one religion, let’s mention Christianity. There are entire organizations that seriously ponder the very reality of its paradigm. They philosophize on questions that are wrapped up in questions, and write lengthy papers taken seriously in scholarly circles. These are ideas wrapped in notions wrapped in concepts wrapped in ideals. Those who learn the ideas, notions, concepts and ideals, who can recite them, ponder upon their profound implications, and even expand upon them, are then given official titles and held in great esteem, in institutions of official prestige.

I have one question: Have you ever made a rubber band ball?

I know this is a bizarre question to suddenly throw at you. But a rubber band ball is a fun thing to throw. It turns out a ball of rubber bands is, essentially, rubber. It bounces. It’s wobbly and does silly things. I found the one I made at my office job to be quite fun. I built upon it the entire two and a half years that I worked there at such an early age. By the time I quit the job that thing was huge. But I remember quite well how I got it started.

I was bored one day. State office jobs give you very little to do. Or at least mine did. So noticing a robust provision of rubber bands, I decided to see what I couldn’t do with them. I decided a ball would be fun. How do I start one? Well, one at a time, I figured I could wrap them around each other in a very structured fashion. It’s not as easy as it sounds to begin one this way. It turns out it’s also not good for mental patience. So finally I just wadded up about a handful, wrapped one around them, then continued on, one at a time, with a big careless wad. Turns out this is a great way to quickly begin a very powerful rubber band ball. One that bounces well. Once that grows quickly. One that has heft and size.

And that’s kind of the point. When people began to try to explain their world, their explanations were created by simple minds. They joined together ideas that may seem weird to us, but to them they were ideas that made sense in their every day life. Ideas about sexual behavior. Ideas about where the sun and moon came from. Or what they were. Ideas about snakes and fruit and trees. Ideas about why squeezing out a baby hurts so damned much. These were everyday realities. They were quickly pondered on by simple minds and wrapped into a quick ball.

The paradigm was then passed on to people who didn’t have the capacity to organize these ideas into thoughts. Instead they were built upon by more ideas, stretchy though they might be. In time the ball builds into such heft and size that it’s a powerful force that won’t allow for better structuring, or questioning. Any single question threatens the entire ball of thought. Few people dare ask a single question, dismantle a single band from the ball, let alone five, or ten, or fifty.

But deep down inside, all the organizations giving each other huge amounts of prestige and officiation and renown really are just defending a ball that was thrown together on a foundation of something so loose it boggles the mind how anybody could take it seriously. If you dismantled it thought by thought, you’d find this set of loose rubber bands suddenly pop apart in your hand:

The world was made because somebody really powerful decided so, but that guy couldn’t handle that a snake tricked a bitch into eating some fruit. So now you have to accept that a guy who lived hundreds of years before you were ever born actually had to die because you masturbate, or else you’ll fry for all eternity because God loves you. Now here, have a tasteless cookie.

That ball of rubber bands falls apart. All seriousness given to centuries of pontification, expertise, and whatnot, all was one big heavy bunch of to-do over that.

Today science is building us a far better thought foundation. They begin not with loose assumptions, but strong observations about the universe. They build onto it only with more ideas that are constantly tested, and they’re not afraid to even dig down a few ideas or even entire stratas of them to test out lower levels of the ball of ideas. It is tireless. It is painstaking. And it is by no means growing as quickly or as speedily as the big ball of rubbery bullshit that spews out of the Vatican every single day. Which, by they way, is from a perfect God because some dead guy gave a guy named Peter a key once.

So there you have it. Two balls. Do you want the swollen one that bounces far too much for its own good? Or do you want the shriveled up one that somehow produces ideas that bring real progress? Which of these balls would you rather suck on?

That sums up the character of the sides of this debate. Yeah, we're all sucking on balls, but some of us choose balls worth sucking on. And that's why the whole argument is gay as fuck.