I have been fascinated by the idea of God since I was a kid. My parents were not particularly religious. For my mother, religion was a social tradition. Christenings, confirmations, weddings etc. had first and foremost a secular and social purpose. For example, she was adamant that I should be confirmed, but she never talked about religious matters with me, and I never heard her discuss such things with others.
My father was an atheist and enjoyed making light fun of religion. He found it particularly entertaining to gabble and quarrel with priests. But my grandmother was devout. She taught me to say the Lord's Prayer and cross myself in the morning. She also assured me that Jesus was always watching over me, looking after me and thinking about me. Everything that happened in the world was decided by God. I found this agreeable, but I think it had more to do with my grandmother than with the father and son in heaven. But it felt good to know that Jesus was my friend.
After my grandmother died I lost this connection with God and Jesus, stopped praying and didn't think much about this. And when I became a punk and started reading about anarchism and other things, I came to the conclusion that religion was just a primitive superstition, formulated to try and answer the ultimate questions of life with fabrications and assertions rather than with logic.
Religion could also be a powerful tool to control people, even whole nations. Religion was conservative and stern, and against creativity, humor, sex and most of the things that I felt made life worth living. And religion was even intimidating. It disregarded women as some kind of second rate persons. And it ostracized gay people. That, I could not accept. So I turned to atheism, or life without religion. But I still adhered to my mother's ideology about christenings and confirmations, weddings and such things, mainly to keep the peace with her and other people around me.
People can believe in anything for all I care
It was in adulthood, when I had come to certain crossroads in my life, socially, mentally, financially, and was physically exhausted and disoriented, that I decided to seek help. I went to a 12 step program. This was a difficult decision. There, I acknowledged that I had lost control of my life and that I was ready to do anything to obtain healthy life. The key to that was God. So I decided to take God into my life and to get Him on my side, not least to rid me of arrogance, fear and anger.
This was good for me in many ways. I made a sincere and honest attempt to become religious. I buried myself in religious books and prayers, I went to church at least once a day, and I read the Bible from cover to cover. That was heavy and tedious reading. I even stayed at a monastery in England for a while to learn from the monks. But, however much I longed to believe, I just couldn't. I was incapable of it. The idea about a personal God defies my common sense and my experience and understanding of the world.
I am approaching 50. And, having been on both sides of the table in these matters, I cannot see anything indicating that God exists. I searched, and found nothing. If he exists, he does not rise to the occasion, and is not the God we think he is. I cannot agree that he is particularly charitable. Quite the opposite, actually. But I gladly admit that there are elements in the universe that we have not been able to understand. Nobody knows for sure what happens after death, for example.
I respect people's right to have whatever beliefs they want. People can believe in God in the universe, or in inanimate objects for all I care. As long as they keep it for themselves. I think it is all right to accept good advice from some spirits, but as soon as they start making rules about my daily life, I choose not to listen, as is my right.
No dinosaurs in the Bible
Most of the world's progress has happened because of intelligence, cooperation and science, and more often than not in opposition to the religions. Science has explained the universe, corrected the distortions of the religions and even opened up for us a world that God would never have thought existed.
There is no mention, for example, of dinosaurs in the Bible. Thus, science and religion are often opposites, where science is truth and religion is conjecture. Science has thrown religions from the pedestal where they used to be. One of the greatest obstructions for medical science to improve health and save lives is and has been various religious dogmas. This, unfortunately, also applies to human rights.
But many good things have also been done in the name of religions, and many good people work within them for good causes. Religion can be good for personal use. A little bit like a penis. It is good to be satisfied with it and think it is the coolest and best penis in the world. That can both be good and fun. But don't talk too much about it with strangers or try to foist it on people. Don't write legislation with it. And most important of all: Don't think with it. Have a good time!
I have always looked up to people who I feel are generous, people who are interested in other people, who are helpful and good listeners.
For a long time I have been an advocate for Reykjavík and all of Iceland taking more initiative when it comes to those so called matters of peace.