I’ll never understand religion!

Atheism is none other than raw depravity – the diabolical principle at work in people who dishonor their parents, murder, lie and commit every other moral crime.

I’m not religious – I believe I may have made that confession previously – but when I see antagonistic quotes like the one above from www.tencommandments.org (a “supposedly” religious website), I get more than a little riled.

My problem is not with religion as a concept and I have no issues with those that choose to practise it, in whatever form.  No, my problem is with the condescending nature of the arguments.

Condescending and Antagonistic

Many people that I’ve come across that have argued for religion have all had the same air of superiority, giving me the definite feeling that they are looking down their noses at me like I’m something unsavoury stuck on the bottom of their shoe.

This arrogant sense of “I’m right” makes it almost impossible to argue against religion without them feeling “put out”.  Some will even get so frustrated that they’ll retaliate with sometimes silly arguments or, as in the case of the quote above, personal verbal attacks one people that they don’t know just because they don’t believe in the same things.

But why do some people follow religion so blindly?  I’m thinking of the recent prediction of the end of days made by Harold Camping.  These people wouldn’t be so stupid as to give away their money to someone who turned up at their door asking for it – at least not without checking them out first. So why is religion any different?

For too long religion has been used as a method of controlling the masses; it has built up vast estates of land, money and power all based on a collection of stories from thousands of years ago.

If I was cynical – oh, yeah .. I am.  Being the cynical person that I am, I can only think it’s because of a fear that their world will come crashing down if they were to suddenly start believing the counter-arguments.

Or maybe it’s a fear of being rejected by their “friends” if they were to voice any arguments against the “norm”.  All I can say is if you have friends that only like you for your religious views, then you need to get some new friends who like you for being you.

But those points can’t be true, can they?  Because that would suggests that those people aren’t as settled in their beliefs as they claim to be.

I know that this type of thing has been used on both sides of the argument, and I’ve used it here to make a point – tell me you weren’t feeling just a little annoyed.

Common Sense

Religious people will talk about using common-sense, but putting up stupid quotes like that clearly isn’t exercising any common-sense. It was obviously posted to serve a single purpose – to create divisions and invoke feelings of contempt. It is inviting retaliation, so why are these people so surprised when people hit back, sometimes violently?

And just to set the record straight before I go any further, in response to the quote: I have never once dishonoured my parents, nor have I ever committed murder, or committed every moral crime on the books.

In fact, I haven’t not committed ANY moral crimes to be exact! I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t ever lied – even the most religious person has told some kind of untruth at some point in their lives, no matter how much they try to convince me otherwise.

I would counter that quote by saying that, after death and suffering, humanity’s greatest crime against humanity is the clouding of free thought; and thus the spread of racism, religion and other forms of ignorance are equally criminal.

In the course of my research I came across the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry which has some very useful hints for us atheists when it comes to arguing against religion (in this case Christianity).  Amongst their advice is this little snippet:

They are often condescending as they mock Christianity. They insult God, call him a tyrant, refer to Christianity as mythology, baseless, a fairytale … if they want to be taken seriously at all, they need to stop being so rude and crude because they do nothing to further discussion.

Hmm, interesting, there’s the ‘condescending’ argument – it would appear that it’s okay for them to be rude and condescending but they don’t like it when it’s thrown back at them!

And then there’s this:

Attacking the Christian God and accusing him of immorality is immensely problematic for atheists who have no objective standard of morality, yet are quick to judge.  We see their inconsistency, even if they don’t.

Really? No “objective standard of morality”?  Why do I have to belong to a religion to be able to say I have a moral standard?  How does that work?  I fail to see how religion gives a person the ability to have morals – surely that comes from how a person lives their life, rather than something that is forced on them.

As for the inconsistency comment, well, that works both ways too!  I won’t go quoting the many inconsistencies in the Bible because that’s been done to death elsewhere, as have the counter-arguments. Those arguments are as antagonistic and aren’t the purpose of this post.  Squabbles about ‘inconsistencies’ and ‘morals’ etc., remind me of being back at school where you’re only allowed to play with the cool kids if you’re in their ‘clique’, otherwise you’re left out in the cold. There was little compassion then either.

When I was younger I was always told that religion was about helping and respecting those less fortunate than ourselves, and to create peaceful, loving communities where everyone can co-exist.

This is one of the things that I find difficult to reconcile – how can an organisation that is supposed to be on the side of peace, love and understanding be so bloody-minded when it comes to other beliefs?  Why do they feel the need to point out the wrongs instead of accepting difference and promoting understanding?   They speak of morals and, yet, many appear to fall short of what I consider to be moral.

I understand that the nature of religion is to have an unconditional faith in your chosen deity but should that be to the exclusion of faith in their fellow human beings? Is this really what their Gods’ are teaching? Somehow I seriously doubt it, but if it is, quite frankly I’m happy not to have any part of it.

As much as believers want to argue that ethics are taught by God, the truth is that ethics transcend religion and culture except for the rules that specifically serve a religion. They are derived from natural laws that allow for family, community and social interaction.

That quote from Michael Pain on his website “atheistempire.com” puts things a little more succinctly than I could.

Religion vs Science

Oh, that old chestnut.  You can’t do a piece about this subject without bringing this into the mix.

It has been said in many non-religious quarters that “God” is always used to explain what we do not understand. This is true and we know as much from history – how many of the great scientists of the past found this out to their cost?!

Of course, the counter-argument will be that God cannot be explained by science; and that argument will normally signal the end of any discussion purely because, conveniently, there’s little possibility of solid evidence being pulled out of the bag by either side.

It cannot be denied that science has gone a long way to explaining the nature of our world; indeed it has at least disproved one “fact” in the Bible – the world is considerably older than is stated in the Bible.  As science discovers more about how things work, or why things happen, the less there is that can be directly attributed to “God”.

If, as the Bible would have us believe, God created the world why, then, is there so much water? I know that we need water, but why so much? To create a world consisting of two-thirds water and then create Man, a being that requires  air to survive – just something to think about!

Understanding

I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.

-Stephen Roberts

This is something else that I find difficult to understand – why do  so many of a religious persuasion find it so hard to understand that there are people out there who have different beliefs.  It seems to be that lack of understanding that prevents them from being totally at ease with their own beliefs.

I don’t feel the need (nor do I have an obligation) to attempt to persuade people into believing what I believe.  I’m happy for everyone to make up their own minds and I don’t judge someone just because they believe something different.  Why is it that many religions find that such a hard concept to get their heads around?  Why do they feel it necessary to attempt to ‘convert’ someone when they find out that they don’t believe in God?

I think the following explains this perfectly:

Eskimo: “If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?”
Priest: “No, not if you did not know.”
Eskimo: “Then why did you tell me?”

Annie Dillard

Finally, I’ll end this with a final quote, from ‘Anonymous’

If God doesn’t like the way I live let him tell me, not you.

Advertisements