My upcoming book has a very religious thematic story which almost certainly comes as a shock to those who know me well. My house is secular, and if I ever do get on the topic of religion I never come down on the side of those who have faith. I picked the topic I did for this book series though quite intentionally; namely that using religion as a framing device you can make very powerful moral statements. Since the main protagonist of this first story started out as an atheist and needed to be “converted”, it was an interesting thought experiment to try to write something that would convince me to change my mind. I can’t say that I am as naive as my book characters though.
In doing research for the book though I’ve realized I have a lot to say on this topic that doesn’t quite meet the narrative I’m going for in the book. I’ve read quite a bit on the subject and I hope that I won’t plagiarize much some of the very intelligent folks whom I whole-heartedly agree with (such as Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, or Christopher Hitchens). Let me also preface this with a disclaimer of sorts. I will almost certainly say something someone finds offensive, so if you’re one of those people, well you’re probably religious, so remember those teachings and forgive me.
As the title of this post says I am an atheist. I do not believe there was a creator of the universe. I do not believe there is any type of being who spends time watching what I do, reading my thoughts, listening for my prayers, caring how I use my body sexually, or any of that (honestly, I believe it to be the height of narcissism if you actually do think that). What’s more, I think you are an atheist as well, and it doesn’t matter who you are. Everyone is an atheist.
Take for example myself; if a Christian walked up to me and asked “Do you believe in God?” and I told them no, most every Christian would agree that I must be an atheist. I have denied the one true god. What if the situation were changed though? What if a Muslim walked up to that Christian and asked “Do you believe in the one true God Allah and that Muhammad was his prophet?” That Christian would say no, and be considered an atheist to that Muslim, just as he considered me one. Actually, ask people if they believe in Thor, or Zeus, and most will say no to that as well. Why? They were considered God’s just as the one’s nowadays. It seems quite logical that every person on the face of the earth would be considered an atheist by someone, hence we’re all atheists. Of course, logic and religion rarely mix so I’m sure folks will disagree on that.
I’m also quite annoyed at how many people who consider themselves religious like to imply (if they are not outright saying) that my lack of belief in their imaginary friend makes me less moral than they are. Let’s ignore for a moment the total hypocrisy in that (if there’s one thing religion is good for, it’s for hypocrisy) and just look at the morals of, say a Christian. Take this thought experiment.
Imagine two young men. One was born into poverty, one was born into excess. The one born into excess used his wealth to hire the best lawyers in the world while he went off on an immoral display that would embarrass Satan if he existed. He lived off his family’s fortune and never worked a day in his life. He tortured animals when he was a child. He abused drugs, he raped women. He became a serial killer, kidnapping and murdering young children. He caused pain and suffering to all families he came in contact with.
Now imagine the other young man born into poverty. He worked hard his entire life. Studied hard in school, became educated. He pulled himself and his family out of poverty, became a doctor. He then developed the cure for cancer, saving the lives of millions of people around the world. He had a loving family and made everyone around him better and happier.
I have a hard time imagining anyone who would say the first man was more moral or a better person than the second. I know for certain that I would not; the second man was a better person and much more moral than the first. Yet, let’s add a few more details. The first man was born to a Christian family in the United States. On his deathbed he realized the error of his ways and found Jesus and accepted him as his one true savior. This was very sincere, and he truly believed and repented. The second man however was born in India and was raised under Hinduism which was his belief system. He did not believe in the one true God, or Jesus.
So according to Christian beliefs, the first man is going to spend an eternity in Heaven while the second will spend an eternity being tortured in hell. Actually, let’s go a step further. Many Christians believe that at the end of days Jesus will come back to earth to save all those who believe in him in the rapture. He will lead the armies of God into battle against the armies of Satan (in this case, including any who doesn’t believe in him). Which means that if this event were too happen before those two individuals died, Jesus would be trying to *kill* the man who spent his entire life helping others while the child molester/raper/murderer fights alongside Jesus and the cause of “good”. Who in their right mind would call this behavior “moral”?
I’ve read the bible. I honestly can’t see how anyone can read the bible and come out as anything but an atheist. Plainly put, God is simply evil. No one can truthfully read the bible and believe that it teaches anything about morality. It’s contradictory amongst itself; take for example the ten commandments. One of the commandments is “Thou shall not kill” (how that one gets listed after idolatry and some of the others is baffling). Well, don’t kill unless of course a woman wasn’t a virgin on her wedding night, then stone her death. Don’t kill unless you see your neighbor working on Sunday; he certainly deserves to die. Then again, God killed the entirety of the human population save Noah and his family, so what’s a little more genocide.
The world (rightfully) considers Hitler’s slaughter of the Jews to be one of the most evil acts in human history. Some even consider him the “antichrist”; pure, unadulterated evil. Yet when God himself murders almost the entire human population, that’s somehow not evil. “God moves in mysterious ways.” As if our feeble human minds are incapable of determining what God’s intentions are, yet when something happens we believe is good, we thank God and say “God is good.” This is intellectually dishonest at best; blissfully ignorant at worse.
Millions of young children die every year. Before you’ve finished reading this post, very likely a young child somewhere in the world will have died. Some of these millions of children that die each year undoubtedly have parents praying for them; the children themselves may be praying. Many, along with the parents, are scared and going through unimaginable pain and grief. Yet, the prayers will not be answered. Worse, many of those children will be spending an eternity in hell because they don’t believe in the “right” god. Any ‘being’ that would allow millions of young children to die every year, causing such pain and misery for the families is evil. Either that or incapable of helping those children; in which case, why call this being “God”?
Of course, “God has a plan” is what you will hear. This is the most ludicrous statement I ever heard as it completely eliminates the possibility of free will. You cannot have free will if God has a plan. Also; if he does have this master plan; why does he allow evil in the world to begin with? He must be a sadist as well as a psychopath.
Despite all this, religious people tend to believe that *I* am the one who lacks morals? I do not need an imaginary friend to tell me what’s right from wrong; particularly when that imaginary friend preaches bigotry and hatred.
Why is this important at all though? Why shouldn’t I just let people believe what they want (which seems to be a common refrain)? Let’s ignore for a moment the hypocrisy of the religious folks who constantly try to push their beliefs unto others and look at the larger question. Why are religious beliefs any different than any other beliefs? If someone wants to believe that heroin is what keeps them going in life, why shouldn’t we just let them believe that? Of course we don’t, we put them in jail. If someone wanted to believe that 3+4 was equal to 132, would we let them believe that? No, they’d be told how they were wrong. Just because billions of people believe something doesn’t mean it has any semblance of truth. The entire idea of “faith” is believing without evidence, and in any other area of our life doing such a thing would be considered ill-advised at best and outright crazy at worst.
On top of that, our country is sliding in decline so fast it is unimaginable. The only real good “products” we make anymore are in the high tech industry and industry born of science and mathematics. Yet, almost half of the citizens of the United States don’t believe in evolution. We have people actively fighting to stop teaching evolution in school so they can teach more religious “intelligent design”. Ignore the separation of church and state for a moment and think about that. The religious folks are using mythology from over two thousand years ago to fight a war against science. The future of the world will be coming from science, not from a book that supports slavery and killing innocent people of thought crimes. Yet, if these people have their way, we will abandon science to wallow in superstitions from two millennia ago. The fall of America will come because our population will become too stupid and brainwashed to do anything on the world stage. We’re already a laughing stock when we have so many people (who are doing quite well) running for President of the United States who willingly say they don’t believe in evolution. I’m ashamed that these people could get any votes; much less the millions they will get.
These people also don’t stop to realize that the very reasoning they don’t believe in evolution simply proves God doesn’t exist. They say “anything so complex as humans couldn’t have been evolved, we had to be created, and God created us.” Yet, by extension this means God is more complex than humans, which means by their own definition he *had* to be created, and so on until an infinite regress.
This doesn’t even approach some of the other world religions, such as some of the extremists who flew planes into the world trade center because they believed that is what god wanted and they would be rewarded for this. Then you hear Christians telling us how evil they are, ignoring the fact that Christianity was responsible for more terrorism so far in the world than the Muslims have been; did they forget about the Crusades? We even called those times the dark ages.
So it’s very true that I am an Atheist. There is simply no evidence to believe anything different. Of course, so are you, and so is everyone else in the world. I suppose this means I can never run for political office now…