Since it is obviously inconceivable that all religions can be right, the most reasonable conclusion is that they are all wrong.
Every religion claims to be ‘right’, and Christian Science is absolutely no exception to that rule–in fact, it might be more extreme in some ways than other faiths. I was a ‘class-taught’ Christian Scientist, and strong elements of this exceptionalism attitude were interwoven throughout the teachings I received. Mary Baker Eddy was presented as the woman prophesied in the biblical book of Revelation. While it is somewhat of an ongoing debate within the Christian Science movement as to whether or not she is, there is a significant segment of folks who do believe that she is. I even swallowed that swill for quite a while. Biblical prophecy regarding Christian Science actually validated it for me at a time when I was wavering in my belief. Biblical prophecy was examined throughout my class and Association instruction in many ways that strongly reinforced the belief that Christian Science is prophesied in the Bible. While others may say you’re going to Hell if you don’t follow their path, Christian Science introduces a level of hubris that I don’t see in too many others by saying simply that it’s prophesied in the Bible. It’s simple, but powerful: we’re simply the only true path–we’re the true successor to none other than Jesus Christ himself. No heaven, no hell, just one path–our path, and the rest of you are just plain wrong. It took me many years to realize who was really wrong.
I have sampled a few religions over the years, either by attending services, or researching them. Most evangelical Christian faiths I have sampled (sometimes at the behest of family members) have been a massive turn-off for me, the pastor’s preachings often like cotton candy–sometimes enticing and sweet, but dissolving quickly into nothing–no substance. I also loathe the often accompanying social conservatism and consider it one of the greatest evils that has been inflicted upon this world. Social conservatism is a terrible cancer in our society today. For an extreme example of this evil, research the Good News Club and if you’re like me, you will see how truly abhorrent their stealth conversion tactics can be: they get ingrained in public schools in the United States as an after school activity, they mould and form young minds with extreme fear tactics, and use those kids to go after more ‘unchurched’ kids. It’s scary–almost straight out of George Orwell’s 1984. I won’t even go into the thousands of years of evil deeds that the Roman Catholic Church has to account for. So, for the most part, Christianity isn’t for me.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the Abrahamic faiths and the Abrahamic ‘God’ are not for me–the version of God as presented in the Bible is a vengeful, bigoted, insecure, genocidal asshole–not something I wish to accept as my higher power. All three Abrahamic faiths–Christianity, Judaism, and Islam claim to be right, and to be the only path to salvation–albeit they do it in their own way; and especially within Christianity and its myriad forms–almost all claim their brand of Christianity to be the only way. One of my great aunts as well as a great uncle were Seventh Day Adventists, and they were convinced that the rest of us were not going to make it to heaven because we weren’t of their faith, and they did not hesitate to let us all know in the most undiplomatic ways possible. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe the same thing, and Mormons carry it to the extreme, converting their ancestors to Mormonism posthumously–hence the reason that they possess one of the most extensive genealogy databases in the world. The well-known genealogy website Ancestry.com was started by two Brigham Young University students originally to offer Latter Day Saints (as the Mormons are known) publications on floppy disks.
In some ways I am probably a spiritual agnostic–a combination of agnostic and spiritual. I believe in a higher power that is possibly a collective intelligence of which we are all a part, not some sort of separate all-knowing, sometimes malicious sentient being. It’s something that I don’t think can be entirely defined, and is perhaps something different for different people. Perhaps I’m just confused. My understanding is constantly evolving. I follow First Nations/Native American spirituality, often referred to as the ‘Red Road’. It is a simple, logical, inclusive, spirituality, that is unique for every individual. For me, the best way I can describe how I feel about it is that it just fits for me, and aligns with my worldview in a way that nothing else ever has. As I look back, Christian Science was like a brand new pair of jeans–it sometimes fit, but never comfortably. My new path fits like a well-worn, but comfortable old pair of jeans that fits just right all the time.
So, back to Mr. Hitchens’s quote. Who is right? Not everybody can be. Either one is right and all others are wrong, or they’re all wrong. I am of the belief that they’re all wrong. Nobody has the exclusive franchise on salvation, and anyone who says they do is full of crap as far as I’m concerned. I think there are many paths; each one, for better or worse, right for the person who is walking it. Faith, or lack thereof, is a deeply personal thing for me, and it always has been. As a Christian Scientist, I didn’t speak out much about it, mainly for that reason–faith is personal for me, but also significantly because I was always unsure about my belief, and I was embarrassed–face it, Christian Science is truly weird, it is way out there on the fringe–I could never say honestly why I believed in it if someone were to ask. As I look back now, it’s because deep down, I didn’t really believe in it. I am much more willing to share about my faith path now, and as a former Christian Scientist, much more willing to talk about my former faith, I think because I feel, for the first time, 100% genuine about what I believe (or disbelieve) now.
My current faith journey is unique to me, and it is the right path–for me. You, dear reader, have your own unique path that is right for you…and only you. I don’t believe in Heaven or Hell as actual places–as a Christian Scientist, I never did anyway. I believe that you can be living in a form of hell right here right now, just as the same can be said for heaven. It’s all a matter of perspective. I guess that’s one aspect of Christian Science teaching that has stuck with me, because it is one thing that does make sense to me.
So I say…enjoy the journey, live life honestly, and be who you are meant to be, not what someone thinks you should be. Don’t be a people pleaser. That is how I have found my own happiness.