The only poison in the church is that book on the lectern.

Jul 23, 2011 Comments Off by

I have this instant just returned from my first visit to a Christian church in several years. I have only been into churches about eight or nine times in my life, normally for the purposes of listening to or playing in concerts. My reason for going on this occasion was to have a go at playing the organ that’s there. My thinking: how often does one get the opportunity to play such a gargantuan musical instrument? These instruments are in churches everywhere and are rarely used, so why not?

I live less than a kilometre away from the one I visited moments ago: within easy cycling and walking distance. Yet it has been even longer since I last went into this particular church. So much so that I could not remember anything that was in it, except for one of the side-rooms. I also forgot how easily accessed they are; that you can just walk in and around it at any time.

I was completely aware before going in that I would not have the violent reaction to the religious environment that I once might have had. I would consider myself a new atheist, but I make a distinction between archaic remnants of culture, and genuine religion. In other words, I appreciate the grandiose architecture of the building without despising it because of its religious connotations. At the time when the church was built, we were a lot less advanced as a species. Nobody really had any idea about origins. The options were no idea, or some arbitrary idea. The science and philosophical arguments that are around today which should be enough to convince anyone against believing in religious doctrine, weren’t available (though that shouldn’t stop people thinking for themselves). As philosophy and science become more advanced and more freely accessible, it becomes more irrational to be religious.

This building seemed more like the ruins of a castle than somewhere that modern humans still gather to maintain their antiquated belief system. If another sentient species, millions of years from now, uncovers the remains of one of these churches, all they would conclude is that human beings had a peculiar interest in geometry and incorporated that into the structural features. Most of the masonry consists only of geometric shapes. The pillars and arches and the vaulted ceiling had repetitive circles or criss-crosses but very few religious symbols. The door into the building was built more like a portcullis, but that was all. Even the stained glass windows had only a few obvious symbols; they were mostly just depictions of medieval scenes with knights in armour. The pews still looked annoying. I’ve sat on those things about five times in my life and hated every second of it.

In fact, I looked around the building, and the only really striking object of any religious significance is that book on the lectern, the bible. It dwarfs the other items in its religious babble. In that book is contained all of the nonsense that is spewed out and forms part of the thing we call religion. The concept of removing gods from religion is often thrown around. Sod it, remove religion from religion. These old buildings need preserving, church numbers are falling, why not find another use for them?


About the author

I am the founder of Atheism Network.
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