I've become increasingly aware in recent months that I'm going to have to work out some sort of religious beliefs. I'm not really sure what my family believes--we're Jewish, but that's more our culture than our religion, I never hear any of my relatives actually mention God like a real thing. You have a Bat Mitzvah because it'll bring the family together and give the kid a sense of belonging and accomplishment and the elders a sense that their traditions are being passed on, but you don't really have it for God. Even the funerals in my family don't mention God much.
Which leaves me adrift, and a little too aware of my own vulnerability to fate and mortality to ignore the issue entirely and just be a secular agnostic by default. For a while I was one of those "magical sky man, hurrr" Internet Atheists, but that ends up as arrogant and obnoxious as any hellfire evangelical--it's really just about cherry-picking the worst in religion as a justification for ignoring subtler possibilities. Science and religion aren't adversaries, and taking a side--either side--makes you a jerk.
It's enough to make me believe in the snake-god-puppet Glycon.
Which I do. My current tentative, confused stance is that I should believe in everything. Everything, not just Jesus and the Buddha but also Tinkerbell and Spring-Heeled Jack and artichokes and Br'er Rabbit and Paris Hilton. Everything that there is an idea of exists. I don't know if God made the world in seven days while cleverly disguising everything as billions of years old, but I do know that the Creation exists. Saying "it's all in your mind" of something ignores an extremely important fact (the only certain fact)--my mind exists. A mental image isn't some ephemeral thing that doesn't "really" exist; mental images are all we freakin' have.
At the same time obviously the billions-of-years thing works better if you'd like to prospect for oil rather than the totally real and valid mental idea of oil. Our perceptions of the physical world are fairly consistent and science is the reasonable way to understand and predict those consistencies. But saying the physical world is all there is doesn't fit with my ability to have mental images--with my ability to have a "mental," or for that matter a "my," at all. Evolution can explain the existence of a sociable bipedal mammal sitting here typing; it doesn't explain why that's me. "Me" exists on the same level as Jesus and Tinkerbell, and that's why I can't discount their existence. I'm not sure if they can change anything in the apparent physical world (although, hmm, I can), but I know absolutely that they affect me.
I hope this makes some sense. I feel the need to clarify that I'm sober. I have no idea how to translate my ideas into practice. I still don't know what's going to happen when my body dies.
And may Barney Rubble bless you all.