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Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Guest Post From Sarah
And so, being the open-minded agnostic that I was, I started working in the nursery at a church. With my crazy schedule at the time, working 1 and a half hours on a Sunday was all I could really fit in. And I like kids, so I thought, “Why not help them out? I don’t have to believe what they believe to do that.” The job description specified that the nursery supervisor would not be responsible for any lessons. It seemed harmless.
But . . .
First of all, the church—a non-denominational progressive Christian church with a rock band whose front man loved to give high-fives for Jesus—was small. So small that on my first day I was introduced to the entire congregation. And they were very, VERY happy people. And they wanted to know everything about me. And the pastor touched my shoulder (numerous times). And the pastor’s wife hugged me. My space bubble popped, but I trudged on (for six months!) with that open-mind thing . . .
On some days there were no kids for me to watch, so I didn’t have much choice but to sit in on the service. I listened in disbelief as the pastor said things like (and I’m paraphrasing), “You hear things about the Big Bang theory, but no one really has the answer for how it began. All those scientists, they don’t have the answer. But I’ve got the answer, and it’s right here,” (pointing down at his Bible). Or the time he talked about all the natural disasters happening lately, and you know why? Because Jesus is coming! Or the time when he asked everyone to pray for the soldiers at war, for God to be with them, because God wants peace but it’s also God’s will for us to be at war (I almost fell off my chair at that one!).
But the scariest moment of all was when I was in the nursery, which is next to the area for “Kids Church”—group lessons for those age 4 and up. Because only a partition wall separates the two rooms, I could usually hear what the lessons were about. This particular day’s topic was the very beginning. Genesis. The Creation. The teacher was telling these kids that God created the Earth in six days yada yada yada, when suddenly my eyes fell upon the bin of toy dinosaurs—provided by the church for the nursery. And such an eerie feeling washed over me. Were these people really that ignorant? I was so tempted to bring one of the dinosaurs into the next room and say, “What about the dinosaurs?! When did God create the dinosaurs?! Tell the kids about the dinosaurs!”
These people were both frustrating me and scaring me. Being pelted with the religious talk every week got me really thinking about things, and that’s when I started reading Richard Dawkins and the like, and also when I came upon this quote:
“By all means let’s be open minded, but not so open-minded that our brains fall out” (this quote is often attributed to Dawkins but to other people as well, so I’m not sure who the original speaker/author is).
I realized that my brain was dangerously close to falling out—pretty much hanging by strings—so I put it back in and started really thinking. And reading. And thinking. After all that thinking and reading and thinking, I came to a few conclusions:
1. I am an atheist (and I was like “Duh,” of course).
2. The people at this church are always so happy because they believe they have the answer to everything, and every week they get to be surrounded by people who think just like them.
3. The people at this church—although not representative of all theists—are extremely delusional.
4. I need to quit my job (not only did the pastor continue to invade my space, but every Sunday was just too socially awkward for me to handle, plus I felt bad taking money from crazy people).
Okay, so the Christians didn’t totally convert me to Atheism, because I didn’t really believe in God in the first place, but after working there I really didn’t believe in God. I’m sure I would have taken the step to atheism eventually anyway, but my experience at the church just got me thinking about things much faster. Which is good, but it’s unfortunate that, with all respect, I was probably the only one in that place really thinking about things. I mean, what’s to think about when you have all the answers?