I love planets. Actually, I love exoplanets — anything about them. I want to know everything I can. How massive/dense they are, what materials they are comprised of, what type of star(s) they circle, if they have sister planets, if they have moons, if they are moons. Anything about them that is confirmed and known by the astrometry community, I bet I know or will know within a relatively short amount of time.
A friend of mine calls me an exophile. Though it is meant to be a derogatory term for my obsession, it’s still accurate. I do not have a degree in any type of physics and I am not a part of any astronomic group, but my information is legit. Over the past fifteen years I have spent my free time searching for new things to read on planetary information, and over the past twelve years, I’ve taken my research to the internet.
Often at times, especially since a space telescope called Kepler launched, I have allowed my obsession to consume me hours a day. For not having a formal background in astro/cosmo studies, I know a fair amount about the universe, its growth, and the decay of matter within it. And as an atheist — a homosexual one at that — it brings me great joy that I STARTED questioning myself, my environment and other individuals because I recognized the ignorance of a single religious zealot separating himself from the possibility of there being more than what he knew.
I was raised ‘Christian’ or, rather, to be christ-like. My family didn’t stick to any one denomination and went to many churches during my rearing. Due to my own circumstances as a child, I was surrounded by poor health and extreme personal wealth. I went to the best schools my state had to offer. My parents spared no expense for the best medical care for me during my adolescence, during which time I was struggling with a myriad of health problems. Even though I went to a good school it was still a religious one.
I remember in great detail a conversation I had with a pastor at the school, I had initially wanted to have a conversation with him about why I had so many health problems — why would god do harm to a child? But after hearing his sermon during chapel about Man being the crown jewel of god’s achievement, I wanted to know how and why aliens fit into his vision.
He dismissed them entirely and then wanted to talk about me being sick, trying desperately to get back to the speech he had prepared for me, given my teacher told him I was curious to have a one-on-one discussion. I grew bored of what he was saying. The only thing I really remember after that point was him distinctly saying earth was special, and that life couldn’t be elsewhere because we didn’t even know of any other planets besides the then nine planets of our solar system…and at the time the only interest I had in space was what I saw in fiction, that is until I saw him try with such difficulty to change the subject back to his typical talking points.
Soon after, I realized medical doctors had the answers that my pastor didn’t.
That’s when I fell into science. My mind developed in a way in which it understood I could get answers, but also I sought further questions. My parents tried to provide spiritual guidance — my mother helped me emotionally but she had fewer answers than what I was able to answer myself. The guidance that they tried to give me through others was just as much of a failure. Not to say my parents failed, however they themselves are just cogs in the machine from which the real problems originated. I wanted to know why I was sick. Why is there sickness at all? And why should Christ’s terrible death by crucifixion amount to us being magically cured of all our ‘sins’?
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