You thought your life would just go by
Without a pause to wonder, don’t be silly
You can’t live your life n the baby seat
You’ve got to stand on your own
Don’t admit defeat
I’m going to admit a personal bias here. I have a great dislike for religions that dictate every move a person makes. I have had friends who follow traditions that tell them what they are “allowed” to read, listen to, watch, wear, believe. Who they can socialize with, what type of career they can choose, who they can date, love, or marry. A little guidance in these issues isn’t a problem; when a faith outright forbids me from doing something, I tend to rebel.
I don’t even mind it so much it it’s something that makes sense, and some of the prohibitions in the Christian Bible were appropriate for the time in which they were written. My problem is when they are no longer appropriate to the problems and situations of today, yet we still hang on to these ancient practices as handed down from on high. I have two problems with this. First, it assumes a belief in a God that is harsh, rigid, and unmovable. Second, it stifles any human growth.
Think about being a parent. When you have a child, do you really want it to stay a dependent blob for the rest of its life? Babies are cute, but I can honestly say that I enjoy my daughter much more now than I did when she was a newborn. I was intrigued to watch her personality develop and grateful when she got the toilet training thing down. Each new milestone – walking, talking, feeding herself, washing and brushing her teeth alone – all of these pointed to growth that made her into an independent being separate from me and her father. Yes, the testing of the boundaries can be a bit formidable and frustrating, but she needs to make her own mistakes to be able to learn who she truly is, and not just some clone of mom and dad. All parents want their children to grow and move on to become healthy, functioning adults.
If we think of the Creator in terms of being a cosmic parent, and many faiths do, shouldn’t we assume that God wants the same for us? The faith of a child is great and comforting and helps small minds make sense of a larger and often scary world. But at some point in time, our minds expand and our new experiences point to truths that may no longer work. When you’re a child, it’s easy to believe Santa can travel the world in one night. Once we develop the skills of logic and cause and effect, it doesn’t quite work as it once did. But then we develop a new belief that can take its place.
The human race grows and learns just as its individual members do. Together our knowledge of the workings of the world and the universe have grown substantially in the past however many millennia. While we may have once believed that Prometheus brought fire from the gods, we now find that a quaint proposition. If we can so easily and readily discard beliefs from other cultures that no longer make sense, why do we hold on so tight to our own traditions that no longer fit? I’m not saying that all religious texts are to be thrown out, but we should as adults be able to look at them through the filter of modernity and see what is no longer applicable to the life we live today.
God as a loving parent does not want us to stay in an arrested state of development. Part of the beauty of creation is being able to watch the growth and changes that result as we reach for something more than where we are. God does not want us to stay at the kid’s table. If that were the case, we would not have been given the gifts of reasoning and curiosity and free will. But a gift is only a gift if you actually use it. It’s time to step out of the baby seat and discover what the Universe has in store for us. And we can only do that by being willing to critically reflect on what those before us have believed and find our own way.