Reading John Loftus recount his poignant tale about the size of the universe reminded me of how I lost my faith in God in 1st grade. But that was just the culmination of a painful process of disillusionment.
As a baby, I was a convinced cribocentrist. Being a precocious scientific observer, I noticed that everyone moved in relation to my crib, but my crib never moved in relation to anyone else. People would come over to my crib and go away from my crib. Based on solid empirical evidence, I inductively inferred that my crib was the center of the universe. All by myself I developed the cribocentric theory of the universe.
But when I outgrew my crib, my parents removed my crib and replaced it with a bed. This was shocking. I suddenly understood that my crib wasn’t the center of the universe after all. However, I sought temporary intellectual consolation in the thought that my bedroom was still the center of the universe.
After I got old enough to roam the neighborhood, I used to visit a playmate two houses down from me. He had a bedroom, just like I had a bedroom. This is when I suffered another existential crisis. A body blow to the solar plexis of my Weltanschauung.
Both our houses couldn’t be the center of the same universe. Moreover, how could God hear me pray in my bedroom, but also hear my playmate pray in his bedroom? Could God hear through solid walls? Maybe God had a very acute sense of hearing.
However, having the limited attention span of a young boy, I quickly forgot my flash of insight the moment I switched on the latest episode of The Wild Wild West.
When I was old enough to go to school, I began attending kindergarten. Up on the classroom wall was a map of the USA. I could proudly see that my country was the center of the universe. Smack dab in the middle. Every other nation surrounded the USA. Canada was above us, Mexico below us, with other countries to the left or right.
Still, I found the map theologically disturbing. If there really was a God, why would he waste so much valuable space on something as useless as…Canadians?
But I managed to hold my faith intact through little rationalizations until I started 1st grade. Our classroom had a world globe. This was devastating. I could now see for myself that the USA wasn’t the center of the universe. If you spun the globe around, there were other countries just above and below the equator. There was no such thing as “right” or “left.”
It was even worse when a student accidentally knocked the globe over. Then I realized that there was no such thing as right side up or upside down. It was all relative, dude.
That’s when I organized the 1st grade Humanist Club. I invited Antony Flew and J. L. Mackie to come and give presentations. We had some fascinating discussions about the Gödelian ontological argument, the Leibnizian cosmological argument, and the problem of boll weevils.