There Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

Mil­lenia ago, the Greeks wor­shiped a myr­i­ad of gods and god­dess­es. Zeus & the Olympians[ref]Sounds like a band name…[/ref] ruled over a vari­ety of areas of life from high upon Mount Olympus.

Local leg­end taught that the Olympians often came down to inter­act with mor­tal humans.[ref]It is, after all, how Her­a­cles is sup­posed to have been conceived![/ref] When fin­ished, they would return to Olym­pus, the tallest moun­tain in all of Greece, and their res­i­dences with­in its gorges.

From Olym­pus, Zeus would hurl light­ning down into the realm of humans, while he and the oth­er deities would observe, judge, and per­haps even be enter­tained by the actions of the mortals.

Why, then, did the Greeks nev­er climb Olym­pus to find their gods? Was it fear? Were those who did climb it sim­ply dis­be­lieved upon their return? 

We face our own Olym­pus­es today, sto­ries of gods[ref]Far few­er of them, fortunately.[/ref] who in strange & mar­velous ways inter­act with humankind for their own purposes.

In Chris­tian­i­ty, for instance, the Bible tells us to not test God,[ref]Whatever his name is.[/ref][ref]Deuteron­o­my 6:16, Luke 4:12.[/ref] and to fear him because of how pow­er­ful and capa­ble of destruc­tion he is.[ref]Matthew 10:28.[/ref]

The Bible is a big book, though.[ref]Bigger still, if you’re a Roman Catholic or oth­er­wise accept any apoc­ryphal, deute­ro­canon­i­cal, or pseudopi­graph­i­cal books as part of the Bible.[/ref] There may have been a time when its admon­ish­ments to blind faith[ref]2 Corinthi­ans 5:7.[/ref][ref]I say “blind faith” because the Bible explic­it­ly says “not by sight.”[/ref] moti­vat­ed by fear were enough. But we have come too far as a glob­al human civ­i­liza­tion — too far civil­ly, too far sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly, too far moral­ly — to not explore Olym­pus — our Bibles, our Korans, our cat­e­chisms, our Book of Mor­mons, etc.

Kevin Strom wrote, “To deter­mine the true rulers of any soci­ety, all you must do is ask your­self this ques­tion: Who is it that I am not per­mit­ted to criticize?”[ref] “All Amer­i­ca Must Know the Ter­ror That is Upon Us” (1993).[/ref][ref]You may know that bet­ter as “To learn who rules over you, sim­ply find out who you are not allowed to crit­i­cize,” often mis­at­trib­uted to Voltaire.[/ref] Plen­ty of peo­ple would say that we are not allowed to crit­i­cize reli­gion — when we do, it leads to ter­ror­ist attacks, reli­gious protests, banned books, con­stant law­suits, and end­less talk of a “war on religion/Christianity/Christmas/whatever.”

I sub­mit, how­ev­er, that the time for blind alle­giance to reli­gions, what­so­ev­er they may be, has passed. It is time for us to embrace each oth­er for the sake of each oth­er, not because some imag­ined deity demands it; for us to pour our efforts and curios­i­ty into the sci­ences to progress our under­stand­ing of life and the uni­verse, not pour­ing the same into ancient reli­gions depen­dent upon ignorance.

It is time for us to ascend our Olym­pus­es. It is time for us have a Sec­u­lar Now.

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Rick Beckman