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The blind side of faith

Photo: Jessenia Martinez

As a recovering Catholic, I grew up looking forward to the Mass on Easter weekend and the preceding observance of Lent with as much enthusiasm as a kid anticipating a trip to the dentist.

Church services that lasted an eternity, sitting on hard pew benches (that clearly weren’t ergonomically designed), kneeling, murmuring, having the plastic wafer shoved in my mouth, washing it down with the blood of some dead dude who wasn’t really dead (zombie god?) – were hardly restituted by the promised baskets us kids received afterward. I remember the bloodied Son of God agonizing on the crucifix behind the chancel, looking down at the congregants, urging us not to receive his sacrifice in vain. I avoided eye contact.

It’s been over a decade since I began the journey from believer to nonbeliever. Here are but a few things I’ve learned along the way:

Faith is illogical. The illogicality of faith, its tendency and need to quell critical thinking, is perhaps the oldest and most damning charge thrown at the church door. Despite advances in science and technology over the past 400 years, believers have yet to provide any evidence for the existence of a supreme being. Religionists merely point to the gap between human understanding and the nature of the universe and insist that God must exist in the void. But this isn’t proof, it’s only hope, and hope reveals nothing about the reality of something. I may hope it doesn’t rain next Monday, but that says nothing about whether it will rain or not.

Faith is dictatorial. Accepting that there is a God in Heaven, and that He is as the Bible and the Holy See describes Him, who would want to live in the totalitarian state that is the Kingdom of God? According to the Good Book, there are things you can’t do or even think; you can’t, for instance, have sex outside of marriage or think of having sex outside of marriage. You can’t even have non-procreative sex within a marriage! Greed, pride and gluttony are among the Seven Deadly Sins.

Does God know his own followers? Christian conservatives in this country attack the president for limiting their rights, but their “Führer” “who art in Heaven” stripped them of their rights more than two millennia ago. He rewards those who adhere to His maniacal decrees and sentences all others to eternal hellfire as part of His Great Purge. If this is the Kingdom of God, then consider me a revolutionist.

Faith is fatalistic. The most crippling consequence of faith is that a dependence on God and His will has the faithful relegating themselves to the sidelines. They say, “Jesus, take the wheel,” but by doing so, they leave no one steering the car. Should they hit a few pedestrians or wrap their car around a lamppost along the way, fellow fanatics console them by saying it was His wheel… I mean will. If disaster is averted, they say, “Gracias a Dios.” And all plans and goals are prefaced by that abominable mantra, “Si Dios quiere.” Generally speaking, the blessings in my life are the repercussions of my own diligence. I’ll accomplish what I want, si yo quiero.

So for Lent, give up religion… at least till Jesus comes back and commands you to do otherwise.

About Hector Luis Alamo, Jr.

Hector Luis Alamo, Jr., is the associate editor at Being Latino and a native son of Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood. He received a B.A. in history at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where his concentration was on ethnic relations in the United States. While at UIC, he worked first as a staff writer for the Chicago Flame and later became the newspaper's Opinions editor. He contributes to various Chicago-area publications, most notably, the RedEye and Gozamos. He's also a cultural critic for 'LLERO magazine. He has maintained a personal blog since 2007, YoungObservers.blogspot.com, where he discusses topics ranging from political history and philosophy to culture and music.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.

Comments

  1. Ruben Gutierrez says:

    While I appreciate the diversity of religious (and non-religious) beliefs, I can say with certainty that since my returning to college in 2009, professors are dogmatically referring to “people of faith” as being uneducated, or not having an appreciation, or belief in empirically supported scientific data. I too am a “recovering Catholic” as Mr. Alamo puts it; and I have a good feel from where his opinions come from. As an altar boy, I was scared to death of God and all the scary statues strewn about the church’s junk room. The confessional was equal to locking me a dark closet, and the rules and regulations dictated by man-made traditions and rituals to me were unattainable even for the most holiest of thou. However, once I realized that religion isn’t about rituals & traditions of men or trying to attain sainthood, the more I was able to grasp the concept of faith. Belief in God isn’t about needing or even wanting proof; belief in God is being able to think above the natural and seeing a greater foundation and purpose for human beings. I hate this analogy but; there is a $100,000 bill with Pres Woodrow Wilson’s picture on it, I’ve never seen it, but it does exist. My relationship with Jesus Christ has extended far beyond the natural, and many events in my life have gone unexplained. So, as far as faith being illogical and dictatorial… it is! But for me, there is no longer logic, but faith; and no longer a dictator, but a SAVIOR!

  2. Atheists rule!!

  3. What about using the philosophy of Aristotle’s “unmoved mover” to explain the creation and expansion of the universe despite the laws of thermodynamics saying that matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed, thus requiring something independent of the limitations of the laws of physics to actually create existence?

  4. I’m sorry your church experience was so poor. I am quite comfortable with my faith, so a non-believer I will never be.

  5. Good for you for insulting those of faith. Hope you can pat yourself on the back. You deserve it. I hope one day you recover from your athiesm.

  6. I was an atheist and my journey has led me back to the Roman Catholic faith of my ancestors as well as a healthy curiosity and study of all world religions.

  7. Excelente artículo, gracias por la valentía en publicarlo

  8. “recover from your atheism”?? Yeah that’s not insulting to atheists! But I don’t mind. You ppl with “faith” are so sensative and always feel offended. You’re all a joke!

  9. One of your best Posts yet.. this shouldnt be a serious debate..on another note Believe what you want just keep it out of politics the two should not go hand in hand.. I stopped believing when I got to the age of reason- which for me was about 13..

  10. Alex, by generalizing all people of faith by saying that they are “all a joke”, you’re showing that you’re no better. Most people of faith that I know are respectful of Athiests as well as all other beliefs.

  11. No, I am not sensitive. I am not politically correct, nor do I profess to be. I am a hard knuckled assh*le and that text message was as kind as I can be. I am sick of athiests preaching to me about something they don’t understand, and are proud not to.

  12. Agree with Luis. Believe what you want. Don’t mix it into politics.

  13. @bryan that was not Aristotle, that was Aquinas, in his 5 proofs, and those arguments were blown out of the water by the philosopher Kant, who was also a believer.

  14. I don’t mind atheists who are respectful and speak to you as equals and where there could be a productive dialog between two differing camps. Many good things can come from a rational respectful conversation where both groups can meet half way and come away with some form of understanding. This BL rant is not one of them. This article is a gripe fest of complaining like a lot of what goes on here at BL. If the Latinos are not angry with God they are usually blaming their problems on the big bad white men. I think they view God as a Republican. This is just another of those angry atheists that has a beef with Christianity so he or she throws some insults in there to feel good about themselves in their rebellion. It’s all one big set of Daddy issues in the end.

  15. I found this interesting. I know someone who recently told me he was agnostic. Thanks for sharing.

  16. @ jorge why would u say i hope u recover from your athiesm..athiest believe in facts and science where…religion is based only on myths and metaphors…so my question is how can u recover fron science and things that have been proven…i think u are being a lil ignorant….athiesm isnt a disease…its reality!

  17. Steven, I’m using Aristotle’s Metaphysics rather tan Aquinas’ Summa Theologica because Aquinas goes more in depth into the nature of God, and thus assumes too much in my opinion.

  18. *than

  19. While I appreciate the diversity of religious (and non-religious) beliefs, I can say with certainty that since my returning to college in 2009, professors are dogmatically referring to “people of faith” as being uneducated, or not having an appreciation, or belief in empirically supported scientific data. I too am a “recovering Catholic” as Mr. Alamo puts it; and I have a good feel from where his opinions come from. As an altar boy, I was scared to death of God and all the scary statues strewn about the church’s junk room. The confessional was equal to locking me a dark closet, and the rules and regulations dictated by man-made traditions and rituals to me were unattainable even for the most holiest of thou. However, once I realized that religion isn’t about rituals & traditions of men or trying to attain sainthood, the more I was able to grasp the concept of faith. Belief in God isn’t about needing or even wanting proof; belief in God is being able to think above the natural and seeing a greater foundation and purpose for human beings. I hate this analogy but; there is a $100,000 bill with Pres Woodrow Wilson’s picture on it, I’ve never seen it, but it does exist. My relationship with Jesus Christ has extended far beyond the natural, and many events in my life have gone unexplained. So, as far as faith being illogical and dictatorial… it is! But for me, there is no longer logic, but faith; and no longer a dictator, but a SAVIOR!

  20. If you’re an agnostic or an atheist, share this. If you’re a believer, God commands you to share this.

  21. Ruben: Your post is truly inspirational and truly deep. I was educated in Roman Catholic schools right up until college, and truly appreciate the work the nuns and fathers and lay teachers did for me as I look back. I think I am truly a good natured person. Certainly not infallible, but good nonetheless. Like most people, and most religious people in particular. I believe in God as I do science, and often ponder just how the universe was created. I enjoy listening to astrophysicists lke Michio Kaku, Stephen Hawkings, etc explain the many theories of the universe, as well as something that’s called Planck Time which is supposed to be faster than the speed of sound that goes back to the Big Bang. There is a show on Netflix called Hoe the Universe Works which is fantastic.

  22. “Hoe the universe works.” What is “things a ghetto astrophysicist would say”? hahaha Just messing with you, Lee

  23. Luckily, no one who commented was an atheist named Jesús. Talk about awkward lol.

  24. As for religion, it has been far too politicized in this day and age here in the USA. There is no Holy Roman Empire with the power to control armies and regional kings. What is left is merely a voice situated in The Vatican (for Catholics), and elsewhere for Protestants. It’s a theological voice that bases its understanding of a supreme being, humans and morals on the Scriptures. Is it dictatorial? No. Nobody is being forced to accept anything in the Scriptures, but there are those who do take the Scriptures literally. The Scriptures is a way of life for many and one should not judge them uneducated or worse. The problem with religion is that it has gotten a bad rap from the outside. From secular politics, and it is there where power is wielded and often clashes with religion. Religionists only have themselves and their church as a powerbase where they can gather and fight back against the encroachment of the state. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the clashes between communism and the Church in the 20th Century, and for all the talk about Christianity having blood on its hands, nowhere does it compare to the ferocity unleashed by Stalin, Hitler, and Mao on the world stage last century.

  25. Lee, the scientists you named are atheists. So maybe you haven’t been listening closely enough. Ruben, I also don’t like your analogy. The problem with it is that people have actually SEEN and TOUCHED the 100,000-dollar bill. Bryan and Steven, no serious intellectual would look to Aristotle or Aquinas for an explanation of how the universe works. Alex, I wish atheists did rule. Mario, again you said nothing about my actual arguments. I’m sure you were already typing your response midway through my first paragraph.

  26. This is not to say that within Christendom there has been no problems. Every institution on earth does have its bad crop. But overall, Christianity has been a force for good throughout the world, especially the 3rd World.

  27. Nazism, Stalinism and Maoism are all state religions.

  28. Christianity has been the main opponent of scientific and social progress in the Western world for 2,000 years.

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