One morning this week while listening to Public Radio I wandered over to the little pond beside the barn to check on the frog eggs. While admiring them and cogitating, the radio reported that officials in Georgia sought to remove the word "evolution" from that state's school curricula.

That juxtaposition of my frog-egg reverie with the news from Georgia cast me into a certain combative mood. How dare they seek to rob me of one of the most important words I use when cataloguing the wonders I ascribe to the Creator. This news from Georgia got me to thinking this: Maybe now is as good a time as any to clearly and concisely explain why I am so anti-religious -- why I am a hardcore, dyed-in-the-wool PAGAN.

It is precisely because I regard all religions as artificial, unnecessary barriers between people and the higher states of spirituality to which they naturally aspire.

We look into the heavens, experience love, or contemplate frog eggs, and we become aware that something, somewhere, has created these marvelous things and circumstances, and that this Creator and the creation itself are worthy of reverence. Human spirituality begins like this and should continue through our lives in the same vein, perpetually growing and maturing. The highest calling of every community should be to nurture its citizens' quests for spirituality, to inspire them toward ever-more exquisite sensitivities and insights, and to encourage them to love, respect and protect that tiny part of the creation into which we all have been born.

Instead, religions divert the energies of our innate spirituality-seeking urges into the practicing of mindless ceremonies and rituals having little or nothing to do with the majesty and meanings of the universe. Religions insist that we must disbelieve the evidences of our own minds and hearts, and submit to primitive scriptures interpreted and transmogrified by untold generations of clerics who, history reports, all too often have hustled to promote their own bureaucratic and political agendas, and continue to do so today.

In my opinion, anyone wishing to "get right with God" should begin with cleansing from his or her own life all traces of religion. And the first step in doing that is to get straight in one's mind what is religion (dogma in scriptures), what is spirituality (one's personal relationship with the Creator and the creation), and what is love (intense empathy and well-meaning). You do not need to believe in someone else's curious dogma in order to be spiritual, or to love your neighbor and do good works.

Finally, why is a diatribe like this appropriate for a naturalist's newsletter? It is because this newsletter springs from my passion for all that is natural -- the Creator's Earthly creation. Natural things on our planet are now being destroyed at a rate greater than at any other time in the history of the Earth. That destruction is being committed at an ever-increasing rate by human societies such as our own that are more and more rationalizing and excusing their excesses in terms of religious doctrine.