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What's Up

By Carl S ~

When my two children became teens, we all decided it was time for them to give away the stuffed animals of their childhoods. I enjoyed watching them pack up those characters and listening to the stories they shared about them as they grew up. Lately, I've thought of how my kid brother and I had relationships with our stuffed animals, which had their own personalities. I don't think any of us had an imaginary friend. We had enough of a grip on reality to be able to project our emotional involvement into shared story telling via "animating" our inanimate animals. They became just as "real" as Puff the Magic Dragon to a little boy, as the tiger "Hobbes" was to Calvin, as "Jesus" is to believers in him, each adapted to each individual's imagination.

It would be interesting to find out if children like us ever were inclined to substitute an imaginary Jesus or god for our stuffed animals. Do kids who grew up like us, with our alter egos and special personality characters, outgrow not only them, but metaphysical beings as well? When our childhood experiences included Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, Superman, Snoopy, and Charlie Brown, didn't we find them more attractive than Moses or Samson? Couldn't we relate then, as now, more to Wile E. Coyote than to Jesus? (This idea's worth investigating. Does Christian right indoctrination substitute Veggie Tales for toon characters? That's all folks, c'mon, think about it: what do vegetables really do, but vegetate?)

Contrast the Jesus who forgives his enemies (although he doesn't really forgive them - he sends them to hell), with Bugs Bunny, who doesn't forgive, but nevertheless avenges injustices. Come to think about it, atheists have a lot in common with Bugs Bunny: atheists do not initiate attacks on themselves. Atheists like Bugs, likewise respond to those who will entrap or destroy them, turning the tables against these enemies, by showing them just how ridiculous their efforts are. To use the example of another animal toon: would the Jesus who refused to throw himself off the cliff and have angels save him ever have the determination of a Wile E. Coyote, who continued to pursue his goal after falling into canyons multiple times?

Adult males of our species seem to have a passion for speculating about fantasies. (Many men identify with the fictional Terminator, Rambo, and other heroes.) I've listened to men seriously talk about fictional personalities and situations, including Jesus, Job, and Satan, as if they were concrete, absolutes worthy of profound investigation - just as my kids talked about their stuffed toys, without the complications. While both men and women get caught up in the romance of loving their imaginary redeemers, it's men who pursue making up theologies for imaginary beings. Because men have turned ideas into actual structural creations, they've equated "supernatural" imagining with actualizations. Then they worship the products of their imaginations. For this reason alone, innocents have suffered and died.

Some children don't want to leave comfortable imaginary deities behind when they become adults. That’s the way things are with them. It's understandable. Let's face it, this big world is discomforting for those raised in the boxy constraints of mostly comfort believing. (Like old shoes, ingrained beliefs are adapted to fit the mind of the believer, and they act together as one.)

Contrary to what they've been told as children by God's experts, believers find this universe is not made for our convenience. In fact, it is quite inhospitable for us. Since addiction to Magical Thinking has been so much a part of trusting believers’ lives, it's damned near impossible to overcome. When we point out contradictions in beliefs, they give us "the look" our toon coyote friend has just before he realizes he's about to fall way, way, down. Those addicts of faith like company, and can’t imagine any life of value, for anyone, without it. Like all addicts, they protest too much whenever their addiction is questioned. And, the addicted come prancing in with their well-meaning intentions, onto a site dedicated to detoxifying belief addicts, pleading with those who are purging themselves from poisons to return to becoming addicts again!

Countless examples support the claim the "war on religion " is actually a conflict between secularism and blind belief systems. Information and new discoveries are flooding and changing the world as we know it. Reality is more fantastic than any make believe religious traditions. And the bizarreness of Looney Toons makes more sense in our understanding of Nature than any “sin-laded explanations." Religions, naturally, feel threatened.

Paranoia, an unintended result of ever-widening knowledge of reality is causing the superstitious to voluntarily lock themselves in prison cells of dogmas. From within those walls, they seek to feel secure. Sadly, they are isolating and entrapping themselves there. They'd like us for company, if only we'd concede to lying to ourselves forever after.

What's up, doc? The Bugs Bunny in our nature sees their awaiting traps and subterfuges. Like Bugs, we’re free and happy and laughing out loud at their be-Fudd-el-ment. (Note: "befuddle" is the real cool word for it.)