So I took my son to see Toy Story 1 & 2 this weekend, and while I'm sitting in the theatre it dawns on me, "Buzz Lightyear is like a religious person! That was me when I was Mormon!" Seriously. He's convinced that he's been chosen to fulfill some special mission. The world is in danger because of the evil emperor Zurg and he alone has the answer. He thinks he's in touch with Star Command, that his blinking light bulb is a laser, that he can fly, and a series of mundane coincidences further convinces him of all this. Really, he's just a toy, but in the end, being a toy is cooler than being a spaceman.
When I was religious, I believed that God had sent me to this earth to fulfill some unique purpose that I alone could accomplish. I believed he could hear my thoughts and that he sometimes influenced those thoughts. I believed that the hosts of Satan were lurking around every corner, and I was one of the few in this world who had the real answers about life. Really, I'm just, as Tim Minchin puts it, a cognizant lump of carbon, but when I think of the series of coincidences that converged to make my existence possible--the combinations of all my ancestors back for thousands of generations, our planet that coalesced at exactly the right distance from the sun, the stars that exploded to create the elements of our planet and my body--it makes me feel even more special and lucky to be here, and even more determined to relish every bit of my life while I still have it.