The soft bigotry of low expectations

At the end of July in 2014, around 3:30 in the morning, I lost control of the wheel of my three-week-old STi and ended up totaling it into the right freeway barrier. Another 15 feet down the road that same barrier does not exist, so it doesn’t take a lot for me to envision a scenario where my car tumbles about 40 feet down a steep hill into a layer of trees and shrubbery, and I’m not writing this article right now.

Cliché as it may sound, the situation happened really quickly in realtime. They say time flies when you are spending it with a loved one; I can also verify that it goes slow as all fuck when your life is on the line. I didn’t see any white lights and there were no voices talking to me or guiding me. In that moment I had only time to react, processing nothing beyond my most basic impulse to survive.

A few weeks later I spoke to my grandma who lives in Washington, and she was convinced that God intervened. That everything happens for a reason and it must mean something as part of his greater plan. This is a common stance to take, suggesting I was spared in some way. Plus, if one were to believe in the first place that everything happens for a reason, there isn’t a better time to reinforce such a belief than right after making it through a life-or-death coin flip.

Of course, I don’t see it this way. And I’m sure if you’ve read anything I’ve written before you are already aware of this.

I tend to prescribe to the opposite. Rather than feeling special, or saved, or whatever, I saw myself clearer than ever as nothing more than a statistic. Or a potential statistic. Just a blurb in your Wednesday morning paper. Young white male… clean record… on his way home from work. The narrative writes itself. You just have to change the names and dates on the template.

It’s these coin flips, presumably several hundred million or more, that made us humans exactly what we are now. Just a small piece of the evolutionary chain.

The laws of nature, and the laws of physics, did not suspend just to save my life.

As Bill Nye beautifully explains:

Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, and when you understand it you will know more about yourself and every other living thing on Earth. We are made of atoms that were blasted out of ancient stars, and so we are somehow at least one way that the universe knows itself.

Along the eons of time on earth, many things could have gone — and many times did go — horribly wrong. That’s why something like 99.8% of every species that’s ever existed has gone extinct. Humans, in that respect, are nothing special. Just as my life isn’t special in the grand scheme of humanity. Nothing I can ever accomplish in life will change the excessive amount of math working against the claim that there has to be a reason why I didn’t die in that car accident.

But this Divine Creator worldview need not be challenged. People are afraid of death (and of the dark), and this is likely not to change anytime soon. Just as long as people fear what happens after they die, they will believe the lie that a better place awaits them once they get there. I guess it makes these people feel better, or something. And as an added bonus, they get a personal god looking out for them while they are alive.

If it were true, it would be a pretty sweet deal, right?

Yet this is obviously very foolish, and it’s something neither my mind nor my ego can accept. I mean, if I truly believe there was divine intervention the morning of the crash, then I can’t appropriately pat myself on the back for cheating death. Where is the fun in deflecting credit? It’s like these baseball players who get the game-winning hit, and in the postgame interview they say something along the lines of “none of this would be possible without my lord and savior, Jesus Christ.” What? C’mon, man. You just got the game-winning hit! You did that!

I have to admit, my latest preoccupations with god and politics are not just some new toy I found that I feel like playing with right now. These are subjects that have always been on my mind; I’m just starting to write about them now with more frequency.

Despite going to a baptist preschool and being a regular at church Sunday school, I believe I doubted the existence of a supreme being ever since I learned the meaning of sin, which as it turns out is not the plural of “son,” as I originally presumed. This must have occurred when I was five or six. Now that I’m almost 26, as someone whose brain has always operated math-dominant, I’m going with my logical instincts.

As someone who was raised as a baptist Christian, with the whole song and dance and whatnot, I feel like it’s my duty to help advance this conversation. Even if it’s on some obscure blog that you came across via some obscure tag.

I don’t know the ultimate truth, and I don’t know the mysteries science has yet to uncover. I am a slave to 2016 and the petty technologies that consume me and virtually everyone else. I am not radical enough to say what I believe is the only way, but it is the one way that doesn’t accept superstition at face value. My side of the isle has been consistent in saying I don’t know. Which, as far as we know, is all we know.

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