The Illusion Of Choice

Growing up in a church gave me a false sense of entitlement that I’ve had to fight for the longest time. I learnt early on how to compartmentalise to avoid the glaring logical paradoxes that lurk deep in the foundation of my belief system. I could have gone my whole life without recognising any of these. Like a fish born in a bowl, my warped vision would’ve gone unbeknownst. The beauty behind it is that I was never conscious of any this. My mind, much like yours, always assumes it knows more than it actually does. The curse that comes with this is that when that idea is tested, we’re like deer in headlights.

Now growing up a church-going kid was my norm so I can’t tell you how it truly feels without having to hop in a DeLorean a few times and living every childhood imaginable. I can tell you that I was two people; one at church and another at home. Then school came along and we had our trinity. Why am I telling you this? Well for the longest time I spoke like all this was a choice. The truth is, I didn’t choose my religion any more than I chose my family. Had I been born a little further up the continent, I may have been Muslim.

I didn’t choose to believe in a Supreme Being, I was just brought up in an environment where it was believed to be fact. I grew up knowing that 1 + 1 = 2, the world is round and that I would taste the flames of hell for masturbating. The only one of these three facts that I still know to be true is that 1 + 1 = 2. Hell is a concept that came about a lot later than I used to think so yeah; fap all you want younger me. The earth is flatter at its poles so it technically isn’t round but that’s just me being pedantic.

So if I didn’t choose my faith, what makes me believe that I’m right? I mean for the longest time I was sure that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute but apparently, I was wrong about that. I thought that the Ten Commandments were in Exodus 20 and I was apparently wrong about that too. I thought that the disciples that the books of the New Testament are named after actually wrote the books. I even thought that Mary (the mother of God) was a virgin but that might not have been true either. Clearly, I knew nothing about my religion except parts of the origin story and what not to do. Even so, how do I know I’m right? (Trick question; I don’t)

Well if you had asked me this 10 years ago when I probably would’ve quoted some vague bible verse that I heard in a sermon that past weekend. Now I realise that the Bible can’t be used to prove the existence of Yahweh any more than my girlfriend’s diary is proof that I have a love child in Cambodia. My inner child is scolding me for writing that seemingly heretical sentence but it’s not wrong. Using the Bible to prove the stories and ideas in the Bible is circular reasoning.

So what do I know for sure? Well, nothing really and the more I learn about Christianity, the less I recognise it. The book I thought was hallowed contains errors, the beliefs I thought were ours apparently originated from some of the strangest of places, and some of the ideas that are imposed on me are ideas that I don’t even agree with. The problem was that I believed, for some reason, that this religion was incubated in a bubble outside of time and gifted to us by God like the stone tablets. Turns out that captivity, politics, and the global climate (at the times of writing) had a huge impact on where we are today. Buddha tells us that nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else.

I didn’t choose this life, this life chose me and I chose to accept it. In order for me to actually claim to have made a choice, there need to be alternatives. I must admit that I know very little about most of the other major religions but I’m planning on changing that. I don’t even know much about the beliefs of my forefathers and that probably scares me the most. Hopefully, I’ll live long enough to quench my thirst for knowledge but the more I know, the less I think I know.