After much contemplation, I feel I have to come clean about something. I am a "religious" person. This is not so much an admission as an affirmation, or perhaps a more narrowly defined definition of what my "belief" system amounts to. Now, I am being rather ironic with the term "belief", considering the fact that I rely very little on faith and much more on facts as I discover them. Facts are tricky things. Sometimes they can self-destruct on you, depending on where they originated in the first place. Take female hormones for example. Once, it was a "fact" that hormone replacement therapy could solve a whole host of problems that cropped up when a woman entered menopause. Later, low and behold, it was discovered that those same hormones could cause a whole host of new problems. The once touted "fact" that women should take hormones and avoid those hot flashes now became a hotly debated controversy that kinda ruined the value of any "fact" that was arrived at without all the necessary data to make such an assertion a "fact" to begin with. Thus, science, the new religion that promised to send superstition the way of the Dodo bird, has come under scrutiny for it's own faulty dogmas that make religion the mess that it is.
So, have I abandoned science like I abandoned Catholicism? Not hardly. Most of what science has given us has stood the test of time and scrutiny and cannot be contested by any new system of belief or discovery. Rock solid facts, one example being that granite is solid and will hurt you badly if you fall on it or run into it hard enough, have not nor will not ever be disputed by sane sentient beings. Yes, we will always be plagued by theories and assumptions based on math and physics as we understand them, leaving us vulnerable to challenge from the wackos who are determined to bow down to invisible men and point at demons whenever things go wrong, but that need not mean that we surrender to one extreme or the other. No, I will not give up the comfort of knowledge in exchange for the warm fuzzies of monotheism. However, I will not abandon my belief that via the spiritual I can know the science and vice versa. I "believe" the two coexist hand in hand, as long as one is not used to suppress the value of the other.
I could have claimed that as a Wiccan, one that does not believe in a invisible white male supreme being with a bad habit of staying out of sight and never taking responsibility for his works, I do not practice a religion. However, when it gets right down to it, even atheism is a religion. Atheists are as rabid about their facts and disbelief in ANY thing as any fundamentalist Baptists are about their Jesus. Perhaps the ONLY humans you could accuse of not being religious are those that are so self-centered and disinterested in their surroundings that the idea of believing in anything in particular is really beyond their comprehension, period. You can usually spot these people by the dead eyes in their blank faces.
So, does this "religion" of mine allow for good and evil? Well, yes, but not in the way a Christian would harness such concepts. Evil, in my opinion, is the controlled application of suffering and bad things by humans, nothing more, nothing less. Bad things happen in this world, be they accidents, storms, fires, drought, or anything that hurts and saddens us. But bad things happening are not by design nor are they personal. No one or no thing, God or Devil, wished these things upon us nor did they perpetrate them with malice and forethought. Bad things DO happen to us at the behest of our fellow man, however, that IS brought upon us with malice or malignant neglect. THAT, my fellow man, is evil. Bad behaviors that are perpetuated by bad people need not be attributed to some sort of demon or devil, for we need no assistance in that regard. Hitler was simply good at spreading the hate, and his followers were more than primed to revel in it. No, the devil did NOT make them do it. There IS no devil. Who the hell needs one?
The Church does. Not long after the word spread about the guy who got nailed to a cross and whose body came up missing, a mystical story was constructed about hope and transcendence that attracted a population long oppressed and bereft of any good feelings about life, the universe, or anything. Then came those who saw this as a way to control people through superstition and fear, and ran with it. Now the profession that paved the way to glory was the priesthood, and judeo-christianity was the perfect vehicle to control the masses without necessarily perfecting the police state. All you had to do was associate whatever behaviors you wished to control or eliminate with Evil, an evil specifically spawned by the opponent of God himself, the Devil, and you had whatever justification you needed to stamp it out, be it with the threat of excommunication, or burning at the stake, if need be. Of course, it never occurred to most people that the behaviors of those seeking to destroy evil reeked of evil itself, but as always, one man's evil was another man's seeking salvation.
Until rationality and the ability to question authority was made possibly by such atmospheres as the renaissance and democratic governments, the ability to think freely without the taint of religious dogma was fraught with danger, and was best done in the shadows. Thus, such pagan respect for nature and "the gods" that influenced human behaviors continued on out of sight of mainstream discussion, and is only now being brought out where it can be compared to what has bedeviled mankind for centuries. And, just like any religion which started out however innocently and with the best of intentions, many pagan belief systems have devolved into dogmas that challenge Christianity or any of the other "mainstream" world religions for a spot in the silly top ten. Wicca, as is practiced by myself and many others, is practiced carefully and with as much respect for the rational as is possible when one seeks to play with the forces of the universe. When we invoke "the gods", we do so with metaphysical tongue in cheek, for we are in fact addressing, thru metaphor and tools of focus, those processes in nature which have an impact on our lives. Some of us, like my wife, claim to have the sensitivity to detect and interact with other plains of existence (such as our dearly departed in the afterlife), while others, like myself, make no such claims, but have a measured respect for those that do. An atheist would "excommunicate" me for even suggesting that my wife might possibly be able to sense these things, which is why I consider him to be as much a fundamentalist as Jerry Falwell. I merely entertain the possibilities when enough anecdotal evidence exists to give such things the benefit of the doubt. Even now I still think UFO's might exist, despite the fact that I have yet to spot one. Yet, the only miracle I have ever witnessed is the fact that we haven't already killed each other off, so good at genocide as we are.
As a fictional character once quipped, "Nothing is impossible, only highly improbable." So, according to probability, I have no real fear of ending up in eternal damnation for daring to suggest the Pope go fuck himself. Likewise, chances are good that I can live a good life if I don't waste hours of it in church listening to fairy tales so I can go out and judge other people.
"Evil is as Evil does", and DUBYA, by that measure, you are downright fucking EVIL, no thanks to Satan. Same goes for you, Donald, Dick, and Carl. So where are the inquisitors when you need them?
That's MY religion and I'm sticking to it. Blessed be!