Response to “Why Religion should be opposed”
When you write an article entitled “Why Religion should be opposed”, and you know that almost your entire audience is religious, you know that you’re going to get a few responses. I started replying to these responses individually but, realizing that many of them were similar in form, I thought it best to write a reply article dealing with each ‘type’ of response with a paragraph so that we can formalize the conversation and avoid repetition.
Yesterday I had more visitors on my site than I’ve ever had before, and almost all to the article in question. I find it amazing that you can write challenging articles about sex, love, relationships, parenting etc and no one takes personal offence, but mess with someone’s religion and all ‘hell’ breaks loose, which is exactly the nature of religion, and why I oppose it. Thank you to everyone who has read my article – you were not so closed minded that you applied the “Thou shalt not read articles written by vile heathen” philosophy. Thank you to all those who shared an opinion and responded in some way – please share your thoughts on my other articles too.
I am now going to speak to each ‘type’ of response I received. I have no doubt that I will offend people all over again with this, but fortunately I’m not one of those Methodist-don’t-rock-the-boat-keep-your-opinions-to-yourself kinds of people who care about the word ‘offend’. “You offended me!” is not an argument in itself. If you wrote to me then you will find your reply in these words somewhere.
To the people who responded without taking the trouble to actually read the article
I was tempted to just copy and paste your thoughtless text with references following every unintelligent sentence saying “see paragraph 2″ or “did you skip paragraph 4?!” but I won’t. Feel free to read the article again, actually understanding the words I carefully strung together and then feel free to write an intelligent response.
To the bible bashers
These are the people who insist on using circular logic or Circulus in Probando, arguing that the Bible says that God exists, and the Bible is always right (because it was inspired by God), so God must exist. The problem with this is that the premises are circular in nature because each premise assumes the validity of the other. I have read the bible many times end to end, not to mention an equivalent number of times via piecemeal reading of scripture as required for sermons, devotions etc. There was a time I simply ‘believed’ that it was all true because (and please don’t skip over this): I was born and brought up in a Christian society; I was scared of hell and offending God; I was convinced by everyone around me that belief was better than intellect; I had a notion (because of conditioning) that to question the Bible’s absolute truth and perfection was ‘blasphemous’ and ‘rebellious’ (manipulative words used by religion to control). Bible bashers interpret scripture as it suits them for any particular cause or going church trend. 1000 years ago the scripture about women needing to cover their heads was taken very literally, but today most Christians choose to apply some rational thought to the subject, yet these same Christians will use other scriptures very literally when it suits them to do so. This also changes from congregation to congregation and denomination to denomination – so who makes the rules? Who’s interpretational methods are correct? It stands to reason that if one of them were ‘correct’ in the eyes of God then all the others would be wrong – if not, then God and all his followers are confused and God is not perfect. Telling me that something is true because the Bible says so is a fallacial argument. Feel free however to quote a particular argument, found in the Bible, that appeals to some sense of reason or logic and I’ll consider it with as much respect as anything Einstein or Hitchens has to say. So far I have had nothing like this. C’mon Christians!! You can do better than that. I myself could put forward some valid biblical arguments – I offer an open invitation to reasonable debate.
To those who have ‘personal experiences’ with God
These are the people who claimed they had ‘heard’ from God personally or had an ‘experience’ somehow involving God. This is probably the most difficult response to respond to. I remember (with a cold chill) the days of being an assistant pastor in a charismatic church in Benoni, times when we (the elders) would get together to discuss something, and in the middle of heated debate the senior pastor would say something like, “God told me we have to do it so let’s get started.” Well, who could argue with that? If God said it, who are we to question it? The result being that anything this particular man wanted, happened. You can’t argue with someone who has God in their corner. I could just as easily say, “I saw a unicorn at the bottom of my garden this morning – prove me wrong!” You know I am wrong because you know there are no unicorns, because if there were unicorns we’d have photos of them, and their discovery would be published in every newspaper in the world with probably a specimen in The Hague for testing and so forth. In this you use reason, so you would roll your eyes and say, “I’m sure you thought you saw a unicorn…” and pat me on the back condescendingly. So my response to you is, “I’m sure you thought you heard God – pity you don’t have any evidence (pat pat). If I were to believe all the ‘personal testimonies’ of people who claim God did something ‘good’ for them I’d also have to believe the suicide bombers of 9/11′s claims that God instructed them in their mission, or all the people who claim to have been abducted by aliens somewhere in the Midwest of the USA. You yourselves use rational thinking in all areas except this! I have, many times, wished that I could walk through my closet and end up in Narnia, but no amount of staring at the closet is going to help me understand the truth of my world. There are coats in the closet. Santa does not exist. God does not exist.
To the condescending self righteous
Ah, my favourite group! I wish there were fish like you in the water the last five times I went unsuccessfully fishing in dams and rivers around South Africa. The damn fish just stare at my bait and never bite. You however, are the most predictable and toothache inducing group of the lot. The people I refer to here are those who don’t bother showing my articles an ounce of respect by responding to the propositions put forward, but instead choose to take the: “you’re sick and in need of help from someone like me” approach. I refer to statements like, “Are you free my friend?” or “…but are you happy?” or “you are clearly speaking out of a place of hurt…” Spare me your noxious, patronizing, dripping, putrid self righteousness and amateur psycho-analysis! I pity you for needing to feel accepted or acceptable in society above truth; and thinking that anyone who doesn’t share your view must be somehow broken, un-whole or lost. Read my article on being a Salmon vs. a Sheep. Let me say this once, and never again: I am free! I am happy! I am fulfilled! I am not lonely! I am all these things more than I have ever been and that is precisely why I share my life with the world online. I’d gladly accept loneliness and suffering over oppression and mysticism any day, and if I was unhappy or lonely it would have nothing to do with you anyway – but that is not my fate – so respond to apples with apples and stop throwing lemons at me.
To the fence sitters
In some ways, this group irks me the most. These are the people who respond with paragraphs about how they believe in everything and nothing at all. My article is as much an argument against faith as it is against religion. People who say, “I agree with you that religion is wrong, but I still believe that a god or gods or some spiritual entity exists…” are religious, plain and simple. To sit on the fence is to avoid confrontation with society without having to conform particularly. It is at best a spineless agnosticism and at worst, closet atheism. Get out of the closet! You either believe, which requires the suppression of your reasoning; or you reason, and therefore have no need of faith. I don’t have to sit and philosophically ponder the weight, colour, acidity or molecular structure of an apple because the knowledge is already revealed through scientific means. All I need do is pick up a few books on the matter and the evidence presented simply removes any need for faith, or confusion about the apple. Sure, there are things we’re only beginning to understand in the realms of sub-atomic and quantum physics, but the key word is ‘understand’ – we’re not seeking to ‘believe’, we’re seeking to understand! We KNOW how the Earth was formed – we don’t need to BELIEVE some ancient myth about 7 days, or turtles holding up a flat earth etc. I have to confess that in my journey (like a pendulum swing) from belief to reasoning, I took a short stop at universalism and agnosticism, but only a short one – my mind could never be satisfied with believing in belief, or believing that anything was ‘unknowable’. Join me on the other side – it’s incredibly liberating!
To those who engaged in enlightened conversation!
You were a breath of fresh air!! These were the Christians, Muslims and Atheists who responded to my propositions with reasonable counter arguments – who did not ‘hide’ behind “God exists and that’s all there is to it” – but instead, spent a little time thinking about their position and responding with facts and sound reasoning, with respect for the subject. Although our views may be a universe apart, I welcome your comments and hope to engage with many more of you out there in the virtual universe.