Today I got a response to a recent blog post, Why I Need to be Outspoken About Atheism, a short post I made about a few old friends who did crazy, destructive things because of religion. Since I get so few comments on anything other than my WordPress plugins, I figured I’d give Steve’s comment it’s own post.
I find your experiences horrifying as well, sadly I see that none of them disprove God but instead prove the easy degree to which human nature is perverted to violence, and self destruction. While this happens in the name of religion, it also happens for many other reasons. Many of these reasons are intertwined within each other wealth, and the lack of it, respect, a sense of belonging, and the list goes on. Having grown up surrounded by those who believed everything from Satan to the idea that they were vampires who could go out in daylight, what I find is not that God does not exist, but that human beings need the ability to separate fact from fiction. The idea that certain books of the bible for example are literal truth is laughable, many are creation stories and myths the same as any other culture, it doesn’t mean they aren’t important, but the stories of Adam and Eve hold as much truth for me as the stories of Oberon and Titania. This does not mean that I doubt a higher power is responsible for the creation of my universe, only that the only human way to understand this is to be carefully grounded in reality. I am sorry that religion, and specifically the Christian religion has done you so much harm, it should never have happened that way. I would love to converse intelligently as I have often found that discussions with Atheists yield more religious truth than those who dub themselves, “believers,” because the believers never try to understand their faith, and outsiders see things differently. I hope you take this message in the spirit it was given, and I look forward to reading some of your work, your writing just in response to this comment seemed clear, concise and well thought out.
Thanks for commenting, Steve. I appreciate the attention.
My blog post wasn’t trying to disprove the existence of God. That’s a whole other topic which I tend to avoid. Many other atheist blogs are doing a great job of scientifically and logically arguing against the existence of God, but I feel those arguments frequently fall flat, particularly with non-believers, because God is largely an emotional issue rather than a logical one. I prefer to focus on the emotional benefits of Atheism and leave the proving and disproving to the scientists.
It’s true that “human nature is perverted to violence, and self destruction” by many different things, but that does not excuse religion from doing it too. A drunk driver cannot argue that because sober people sometimes fall asleep at the wheel, he’s not responsible for endangering people’s lives. If you compare drunk driving statistics with my religion and crime statistics, you’ll see that a relatively small percentage of automobile accidents are actually alcohol related, while the overwhelming majority of crime in the United States is committed by people under the influence of religion. Why should religion get a free pass when we hold other things accountable?
This discrepancy is particularly obvious when you remember that alcohol companies do not tell the public that alcohol will make you a better person. They never claim that it’s necessary for a happy marriage or that non-drinkers have no morals.
You say that human beings need the ability to separate fact from fiction, and with that I completely agree. That’s exactly why I write these posts. Unfortunately the mere concept of God is a part of that fiction. (Well… in all honesty it’s not unfortunate for me. I love living in a world without God. These are our lives. We can be whoever we want to be and build ourselves up to whatever we might want for ourselves.) Once you believe in God, you open the door to any other kind of spiritual belief. If God is possible, anything is possible, so I don’t think it’s fair to imply that people who believe in witches or Satan are any crazier than someone who merely believes in God.
You may have abstracted your belief in God out away from your day-to-day life. You probably (just taking a guess here) believe in evolution, for example, but think it’s guided by a distant hand that doesn’t interfere directly with us, but nevertheless is looking out for us. That’s fine for you, and it may work for now, but unfortunately it legitimizes the next guy who comes along and believes in a more direct kind of God who talks to people and tells them to jump off bridges.
Take certain hard drugs like heroin or cocaine for example. The majority of people who use these drugs are responsible users, only doing it once every few years or just trying it out a couple times in their life. A coke dealer might point to this majority of people to legitimize what he does, but there’s always going to be the occasional person who takes it to the next level and seriously damages themselves.
The real question should be, ‘is it worth it?’ Does the benefit of something justify the risk and long-term problems associated with it? For things like heroin or cocaine, I think they most likely do not. From what I’ve witnessed in my life, religious people see little to no benefit from religion. They are not smarter; they are not happier; their relationships don’t last any longer; they’re not any better at dealing with grief or hardship; they’re not any more successful; and they’re not any better at maintaining their lives than anyone else. It’s just a different way of seeing life and people seem to defend it based on little more than it’s just how they’ve always seen things. Most don’t even seem to enjoy going to church. When something provides so few real, tangible benefits but then causes my friends and neighbors to jump off bridges and go on killing sprees, I say no; It’s definitely not worth it.