In the Beginning
It has been a number of years since I identified as a Christian. I would lie in bed as a child with theological questions that my parents could not adequately answer for me, and I think I must have been seven or eight when I revealed myself as a nonbeliever to my mother. My family is very much Christian in the tradition of the Black church, and despite my unbelief I spent most of my childhood in churches, generally twice a week. When I left for school in 2006 my mother gave me her bible in the hopes that I would read it.
It took until the last year for my teenage rebelliousness to decay enough for me to actually begin thinking about Christianity without a feeling of resentment for the hundreds of hours of forced worship I endured. I have become a secular reader of theology (of many religious traditions) in my attempts to find knowledge, wisdom, and ethics that arose from modes of thinking besides secular reason. So irony of ironies I found myself today (my mother’s prodigal son) flipping through my mother’s old leather-bound bible to see what I could find that could apply to animal liberation.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” Proverbs 1:7
It is no secret that Western knowledge traces its roots to monotheistic theologies, perhaps even more than it traces itself to Hellenistic thought. Secular thinking has a very brief history on the timeline of humanity, and it is clear that it has drawn heavily from the thinking of religious scholars. Taking that in mind, it is apparent that Christian, Jewish, and Muslim scholarship (in that order) shaped the ways we view the world, even if we are not aware of where the basis comes from.