Why Religion should be opposed
This article has been a long time in coming and is the result of many hours of internal struggle, research, comparison and discussion. Four years ago I physically left the church – about four years before that I was already putting aside faith for reason. During these last four years I have tried not to categorize my religious views with any labels, partly because I needed to assimilate the full depth of understanding what terms like ‘Atheist’ actually meant and partly because I still carried an aversion, implanted by the system, to many of these labels – after all, I had always thought that being an Atheist was synonymous with being allied with Satan (as do most religious folk) – and when you’ve been led to believe your whole life that something is “bad” it’s pretty hard to throw off that conviction. Until now I’ve stuck with the safe categorization of “Agnostic” (someone who doesn’t believe there is enough evidence to prove the existence of God), and I took the safe and simple approach of, “you worry about your life and I’ll worry about mine”, i.e.: Let’s agree to disagree – or – You go ahead and do your religious thing and leave me in peace. I no longer hold this view. I will now actively oppose religion and am relieved to be able to call myself an Atheist, or Anti-Theist. I will discuss why this approach is necessary after I give a better understanding of a few terms and concepts that will help readers digest what I am saying.
Let’s start with defining the terms Theist, Atheist, Agnostic and Faith.
- A Theist is someone who believes in a god or gods, i.e. God exists in reality.
- An Atheist is someone who does not believe that a god or gods exists, i.e. God is not real and does not exist.
- An Agnostic is someone who thinks that God cannot be proven or that we cannot know God, i.e. there is no evidence for God.
- Faith is the act of believing without any requirement for evidence or proof. With evidence or proof there is no need for Faith because we have Knowledge – so Faith can be substituted for Knowledge in the absence of evidence.
It is not uncommon for people to be Agnostic-Theists, i.e. someone who doesn’t really claim to be able to prove God but believes in God anyway for reasons other than evidence and faith. It also makes sense that you could be an Agnostic-Atheist, i.e. someone who does not believe in God because of the lack of evidence. In all my travels and dealings with Christians and other religious people around the world I have noticed two main distinctions; I will call them True-Theists (Believers) and Agnostic-Theists (Religious by convenience). My opinion is that the majority (more than half) of all Christians are Agnostic-Theists rather than True-Theists. These are people who attend church and adhere to all the trappings of their religion because of the personal benefits like: a sense of belonging; acceptance; acceptability; community support, comfort, friendship, financial aid, status, opportunities etc. – all good attributes of the church, but none of which make it true, or right. These people don’t really believe that all Earthly languages originated from the tower of Babel; or that every species of animal lived in walking distance from Noah’s house; or that Daniel really stayed overnight in a pit of wild, untamed and hungry Lions and survived – in fact they don’t really think much about God at all; they simply choose to adopt the mantle of Christian because it’s working for them, and being anything else would damage their reputations, relationships and other aspects of their lives. If you’re one of these people, this article is for you! On the upside you already think rationally and suspect that everything you stand for is based on mythology and superstition – on the downside you think that all the good stuff about church adds enormous value to your life and is irreplaceable – hopefully I can convince you otherwise.
To the other group, the True-Theists, there is little I can do to change your minds, mainly because you’re not using your minds. No amount of evidence or science or history will convince you that your belief is misplaced. You believe through sheer blind faith, (faith is blind by definition), that: there is an invisible being in a place called Heaven; which we can’t see or find until we die; who has declared you sinful from birth; and will throw you into hell if you don’t acknowledge him unquestioningly; and yet who loves you “unconditionally”; and who is somehow influenced by your particular choice of words in prayer; who allows confusion and faithlessness and hunger and disaster on the Earth for reasons you don’t fully understand; and who cares who you have sex with and how; and who judges your sin even in your mind and while you sleep; and “came to earth” on an arbitrary day in history to a dry Roman province via a virgin, so that in dying, somehow getting to heaven would be easier than it was before… hmmm.
I was a believer for many years – passionate about my Faith, as I am passionate about everything I do. I remember ridiculing Jehovah’s Witnesses for being closed minded and not open to rational conversation – armed with their nonsensical “proofs” from their nonsensical “Bible”. I now understand that I was exactly the same! Think about it; if I were to ask the average believer what would convince them that God does not exist, they would say, “Nothing! I’ll never stop believing.” and yet they have the cheek to call Atheists stubborn and closed-minded, when in fact most Atheists could easily give a list of things that would make them convert on the spot if they were to occur. I’ll write another article on this point. I can only hope you come to your senses before you’ve wasted your whole life avoiding the freedom of truth and causing further carnage in the world… which brings me to the crux of this article – why religion should be opposed.
I’m speaking again to those that feel, “Why do Atheists get so hung up about people’s religious choices? Just live and let live. Some well meaning person who attends church every Sunday and gives to the poor isn’t hurting anyone, so let them follow their religion of choice!” This is a view I have shared for some time but I have come to realize that it is naïve and irresponsible to think this way. Religious belief on a micro scale (if it were confined to a handful of people on a deserted Island) may not have any great negative impact on the world other than the personal self deception involved, but we don’t all live on our own island – each individual believer supports a system of control and manipulation which, on a macro scale, becomes an extremely negative force in the World. Let’s look at a few simple examples:
A kind-hearted and conscientious Muslim man goes to Mosque and says his prayers as required. He never hurts anyone and always gives to the poor and supports his local Islamic initiatives, believing that he is pleasing God in doing so. Him and millions of others feed energy and finances into a system which advocates violence and the killing of infidels in its core scriptures; and although they are not personally involved in such matters and prefer to interpret their scriptures more figuratively; their church is involved in a holy war against Christians which results in flying jet planes into civilian buildings in New York killing thousands. Is our man innocent in this? Can he claim that he had nothing to do with it? All this for a myth of a myth that doesn’t exist.
A devout German Christian believes in a loving god in heaven and wants to please him. He has come to understand that to please god you have to please your leaders in Christ. He loves his God and his country and is willing to defend both from any unbeliever that would dare challenge the status quo. The new leader of his country, Adolf Hitler, a man of passion and faith has inspired him to join the army to do just that. He comes to realize that Germany is a holy nation surrounded by unclean nations that must be brought into the fold and tamed. He says goodbye to his wife and kids who he loves dearly to go and do his duty for God and country in the concentration camps where they are making sure that the evil influence of Jews and other unclean races is controlled and quelled. He knows that he will be rewarded for his loyalty in the afterlife if not in this life. He is a “good” man. The kind of “good” man you see in churches everywhere.
Religions on a macro scale (which are the accumulation of millions of individuals believing), have been responsible for:
- Countless wars, including the Muslim/Christian Crusades; the Catholic/Protestant wars of Ireland, the U.K., France, Sweden and Poland; the Taiping rebellion in China; Islamic violence in the name of Jihad; the Muslim/Hindu wars of India; the Buddhist/Tamil war in Sri Lanka; the countless wars between the Jews and everyone else; and the list goes on ad nauseum.
- Religious genocide in Europe (Jews), Rwanda, Bosnia, Iraq, U.S.S.R and many other places.
- The repression of women everywhere.
- Resisting (often violently) scientific progress, as well as the persecution of great thinkers for thousands of years.
- Witch hunts and inquisitions resulting in the torture and deaths of thousands of innocent people in Europe.
- The dilution of quality education in schools everywhere to make space for meaningless religious activities that promote mysticism and superstition instead of enlightenment and human solidarity.
- Human sacrifice, slavery and mutilation such as female circumcisions in initiation ceremonies.
- The distortion of historical facts and our place in the universe.
… to name a few!
So you still think religions are good for the world? Or maybe you think that your happy clappy Christian church feeds the poor and teaches people how to be good citizens, so you have nothing to do with the above list? Well here’s a news break – if all that carnage above didn’t exist, neither would your church; and if all your churches didn’t exist, neither would the carnage on the list. Christopher Hitchens is right when he says, “Religion poisons everything”. It’s time for humanity to wake up, throw off the ancient myths of our infancy and grow into the evolved, awake and conscious species that we can be. If we direct the energy and resources that we currently use to maintain our meaningless religious structures and use them for science and progress we could be travelling to the stars in our lifetime. Every good thing you’re doing in your churches in the name of “God” can be done without needing to believe in nonsense at the same time. “But what about fellowship and belonging” you ask? Well join a gym; a golf club; a neighborhood board game group… whatever – there are a million ways to make friends with people who share interests in the real world instead of a shared belief in an invisible friend in the sky.
I look forward to your comments and abuse.