For complete context about why I’m not having a birthday party for my 27th birthday this year and how you can still celebrate with me, read You’re Invited to My 27th Birthday Bash.
Warning: In this post, I discuss religion. Personally, I don’t care what religion you practice or don’t practice. I *know* not all Christian churches have the same philosophy, and I am writing about my formative experiences, not debating theology.
My 7th grade science book had an entire section on how aliens weren’t real and shows like Star Trek and The X-Files were just lying to me. The book went on to disprove the existence of aliens because God created the universe in less than a week and created human beings in the image of himself, a unique creature. Plus, Jesus couldn’t travel in space and save all beings’ souls. (Except an all-powerful being could totally do this.) I sat there reading this page in my science book while wearing a Babylon 5 t-shirt.
And that, my friends, was the moment I lost religion.
I probably should mention that this wasn’t a textbook butchered by the Texas Board of Education. I actually attended a Missouri Synod Lutheran middle school, and my 7th grade teacher, Mr. Young, is something an infamous Creationist theologian. (You can Google him because I am NOT giving him link love.)
Looking back, I think I was something of a project for Mr. Young as I didn’t conform to his and the church’s views of what a good Christian young teen girl should be like. Because of my t-shirt and because I read Star Trek tie-in novels during free read, Mr. Young decided this was a good time to address my belief in aliens.
Yes, I deeply believe there is extraterrestrial life out there and that one day, we will encounter it.
The more Mr. Young tried to convince me (and my best friend Charlie who was probably writing in his X-Files notebook) that aliens didn’t exist and I was somehow sinning for believing in them, the more skeptical I became of everything Mr. Young said. He ended up attempting to forbid us from wearing sci-fi shirts (I retired mine to sleepwear and weekends out of shame) and told me I was not allowed to read my tie-in novels during reading time.
(Instead Mr. Young loaned me some historical “Christian” fiction about the burning of Rome under Nero, which I’m sure I was supposed discern some moral lesson about pious Christians thrown to the lions. However, my teenage hormone-filled brain was way more obsessed about the scenes between Nero and his male and female concubines.)
Earlier this week, when NASA announced they were having a press conference and were being super secretive about their topic, Erica the 7th grader was giddy with delight that they found extraterrestrial life. That tiny 7th grader has been waiting for years to write Mr. Young an “I was right; you were wrong.” letter.
Tiny Erica still does not forgive Mr. Young for mocking her belief in aliens; telling her her skirts were too short and she was tempting men; hitting her in the face with rubber dodge-balls; telling her that even thinking about sex is adultery; scaring her with vivid descriptions of the End Times; trying to make her burn her secular music CDs; skipping over the stories about women in the Old Testament; encouraging her friend who heard voices that they were demons instead of referring her to a mental health professional; being a kid instead of an adult; encouraging students to pick on “different” students; saying that animals don’t have souls; and for making her write 1,000 times the note she’d passed in class which said “Mr. Young is an egotistical jerk.” Okay, the last one is hilarious in retrospect. On the other hand, adult Erica thinks Mr. Young just needs some therapy.
Instead, NASA held a press conference to announce that they discovered arsenic-based lifeforms on Earth. While this still proves there are different life forms, this wasn’t quite what I was hoping for. Not that I believe Mr. Young would believe in aliens without E.T. standing in front of him asking him to use his cellphone. I’m sure Mr. Young would come up with some theological explanation. He always did.
If you believe in extraterrestrial life and enjoyed this story, please consider donating to Geek Girl Con, a convention and unapologetic coming together to celebrate geeky women. Where you will be encouraged to wear your “I Want to Believe” t-shirt.
0 Replies to “My Birthday Bash Day 5: Dear NASA, find me some aliens”
You know, it was actually Carl Sagan’s ridiculous assertion that aliens could never visit earth essentially because the technology he was familiar with couldn’t do it, so obviously it couldn’t be done at all, which turned me away from hardcore science as a way of life. Watching the nerd community polarize over issues like that one is what eventually turned me– despite my belief in aliens, etc.– BACK to spiritualism, this time with the full knowledge that occasionally people follow the village idiot instead of their own brains no matter what side of the line you fall on. These days I look at the two as reverse sides of the same coin, with the understanding that to deny one side of a coin’s existence and validity due to overwhelming emotional attachment to the other side is essentially arguing with readily apparent, self-explanatory facts, something which can only be successful in the minds of the truly ignorant and insane. The idea that Mr. Young lives and thrives in a world of technology which allows him to cling to beliefs worthy of even the most backward, uneducated, paranoid desert goat herder, is very very amusing to me. In fact, that goat herder is more likely to have more spiritual insight than some coddled, protected theology expert just by simple virtue of having much less to be confused about.
Chances are if Mr. Young was ever confronted with a real life alien asking him to use his mobile phone, he’d likely claim it was a trick of the Devil put there in order to test his faith. Because, you know, the Devil is so interested in tricking the brainless. It must be endless hours of fun for him. Now, God just told me to tell you to pull down that skirt and put away that novel, sinner! The only untruth you are allowed to read are the HOLY Untruths contained in the Bible!
I think the “not even thinking it is possible” thing trips up a lot of people. In science, you have the people who can’t imagine outside of their known/accepted reality and in religion, there are the ones that get caught up in the dogma of their religion applied to the world. I think there are great things out there I can’t imagine, but just because I can’t imagine it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Which is why my religion reads “Batman” on Facebook. While Mr. Young’s classes didn’t make me swing the polar opposite to Richard Dawkin’s atheism, his classes certainly made me a skeptic and ask way more questions (about everything) than I previously was.
Oh, yes, the Satan is tempting me justification. I was so frightened of Satan, the End Times, hell, etc. when I was that age. But then I adopted beliefs that discarded all of that. Sure, an apocalypse may happen if we do something really stupid, but it’ll be human hands, not Heaven vs Hell warfare.
Wow, I’m really glad I went to a secular school. That is a very saddening story about the state of our educational system, that creationists are allowed to attempt to brainwash young adults in this way, and to bully them. That teacher was a bully.
It was total bullying behavior. After I wrote this post, I was thinking more about it and how, when I was in that class, Mr. Young was my age, teaching a room full of students at a middle school which had been opened for only like 2 years and absolutely no structure or checks and balances. No wonder all this crap happened.
I am livid when I see Creationism being put into Science books.