“We all have this spiritual gift of reason
It would be a blasphemy to turn it down.
We are all Kings so put on your crown”
The above three verses conclude a poem I wrote in sixth form, it got published through the school in a book containing a larger collection of poems. Whilst all the poems featured an iambic pentameter which beat like a broken pacemaker (including mine), the poems offered knowledge about what students thought about Christianity and Religion as a whole. Just as the poetic enjambment waltzed so did the minds of the students whilst writing, everyone interested in the conclusion of the book. Would all the poems follow a similar path? Would there be a clear structure, French ceasures, displaying a pattern of thought?
I must confess that I didn’t spend a great deal of time reading through the school’s poems. The pattern spoken by everyone else was a clear one though – poems were either in favour of religion or agnostic. Atheism was rare; not surprising as every family in the school had to be Christian to gain entry. Plus the Atheistic ideal isn’t one you can sell on its merits. With Atheism the only crutch which one can rely on is a materialistic one. Everything we perceive with our eyes is material; including our friends and families. So in my eyes a materialistic crutch isn’t so bad, yet for pupils growing up thinking a celestial being could offer a competitive fulfilment (plus a celestial home for once our time on Earth is finished) – Atheism loses its attraction.
The opportunity to write a poem for the school was one which made my heart jump. I love writing and still to this day I write poetry in private. It is my deviant love and sharing a piece of my selfish treasure with the school was an honour. For a few weeks I had ideas running through my mind. Generally I don’t think about creative ideas, they just happen. So thinking alone worried me that I may not have what it takes to provide a meaningful poem for the school’s book.
However one evening after having just stepped out of the bath, the idea struck me. The belief was a foundational one which I first met when I approached the logical positivist movement for the first time. In the spirit of the Vienna Circle I wanted to recognise that something we all have in common is curiosity, with that we all crave a belief in something which is mysterious.
Mystery surrounds religion but it also surrounds science. Curiosity drove Thomas the doubter to look for evidence that Jesus had been rose from the dead, it was also one of the reasons the Space race was born. Yet in my experience individuals in the Church had chosen to abandon their own reason, they had ceased questioning and instead were just living in faith. In effect they were leaving their shoes and mind at the door.
Whilst the mystery of the Universe satisfied my curiosity cravings, it is not enough for some, including my parents. Which is fine but as long as reason is embraced. Hence the verse, “We are all Kings so put on your crown”.
Yet reasonability is a dangerous path and can leave one fickle for a period of time. It is often said that one does not choose an idea, but is chosen by it. This mantra repeated since 2007 and yet those in the Church still saw me as a troublemaker offering the alternative idea. I prefer E.P Thompson’s “the enormous condescension of posterity” for we are in control of our own making. Perhaps it was the fault of my primary school teachers for praising me of ‘thinking outside of the box’. A phrase which isn’t often heard when you decide the conclusion does not require a worship leader or spiritual council.
For a time some members of the youth congregation of the Church would make the effort to get in contact with me, even comment on philosophical blog posts I had written. Sometimes in a bid to challenge my views but often because they wanted to know the alternative argument. Most educators in Churches are spiritual leaders who claim gifts of the divine and a knowledge which is inspired. Yet their knowledge outside of theology or rumoured spiritual experiences lacks wholeness. Members of the youth group still went to school, they craved evidence which only the Atheistic viewpoint can fully provide.
Answering the questions of the youth congregation was not an act of atheistic evangelism; instead it was an opportunity to provide suggestions. Students must be directed to the path but I will not walk down it with them. They must do that for themselves. It makes no difference to me what philosophical view point they chose, as long as they embrace Philosophy, the love of reason.