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Phylogenetic Me

By Tami --

I was raised in "The Church." When I was was old enough to recognize that there were not only different religions, but different brands of Christianity, I asked my parents which denomination we were. The answer I received was fuzzy.

"We're non-denominational," my father proudly declared, "We believe in the Bible."

How ubiquitous, a fact I realized even at the age of 7. Still, I did my best to reconcile the beliefs of my family. As Dawkins so aptly points out, religion is an accident of geography. My accident lead to 20 years of "recommitting" my life to Christ on a fairly rotating basis.

The first time I openly questioned faith was when I was 9. The conversation is indelibly printed on my memory. My father was sitting in his armchair, reading his Bible. My question was a rather unsophisticated version of the problem of evil.

"Dad, if God is good, then he can't sin, and sinners can't be with him."

"That's right."

"And God made everything. He made Adam, and Eve, and Satan, and the apples."

"That's right."

"And God knows everything, and he's everywhere."


"So when God made the apples and Adam and Eve, he knew they would sin."

". . . That's true."

"So God's a sinner."

Didn't the Bible say the Holy Spirit would always deliver an answer to prayer, and didn't it say that God would never lead true believers astray?My fathers response to this was unsatisfying, and it was a phrase I would become familiar with throughout my formative years; Have faith.

I did my best to follow this. I came round to that question every few years, each time in a more sophisticated form. Each time, I either reconciled it or repressed it. I was familiar with the Bible enough to know that it was supposed to be okay to ask questions. I figured I was just asking the wrong ones.

When I was in my mid twenties, I waffled far enough away from Christianity that I was open to pretty much anything. I was still convinced the christian god was real, I just wasn't convinced I was doing things the right way. I became a Mormon and married a Good Mormon Man. It was easier to believe for me than my parents religion, because at least it was my choice.

Three years later, I was divorced and wondering what I did wrong. Didn't the Bible say the Holy Spirit would always deliver an answer to prayer, and didn't it say that God would never lead true believers astray? This left a few options to me as to what went wrong. Either I was never a true believer, which I knew at my core wasn't the case, or else all religious experiences were the same, which couldn't be true because all religions contradict each other. Unless, of course, none of them were true, and "religious experiences" amounted to an endorphin rush similar to listening to a good symphony or reading a good book.

Once I came to that realization, I spent some time being absolutely terrified. If there was no god, where did that leave me in the grand scheme of things? What I've come to realize since then is that it makes everything I do, right or wrong, more meaningful. There are no demons to blame my mistakes on, no god to thank for the good deeds I do. My decisions are the sum of the whole that is me. Just as my ancestors choice in partner makes up the gene pool that lead to my existence, much as the wondrous conglomeration of atoms lead to the existence of the universe, my actions have made me an individual.

I am an individual who is not tethered by dogma. I am someone whose morality is based on what is good for society. Everyday, I am a re-imagination of who I was the day before. I am me. What a wonderful blessing to have bestowed upon myself.