Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Death of Religion

So I read this article today:

It definitely perked me up a bit.  The thought that religion just might eventually die out altogether brings me joy.  Why?  Because religion is just plain bullshit.  The fact that it continues to run some people’s lives and affects others’ when it shouldn’t is a horrible idea.  Now, there’s nothing wrong with religion in a very general sense.  Most people who follow one form of religion or another aren’t usually bad people and don’t really care so much one way or the other if there is a god or not.  I don’t mind these people.  Religion doesn’t control their life and they don’t try to control other people’s lives with their religion.  If every religious person were like this I could care less about the existence of religion.  Unfortunately that’s not the case.  Still, even with the exceptions there are people who keep their religion to themselves, for the most part anyways (see my previous post about indoctrination).  So why would I care if religion were to disappear?  I will give you a couple of reasons.

               My default argument would be all the bad that comes with religion but I will save that for the next paragraph.  I will start with this; I want people to be “saved”.  That’s right, I’m blatantly stealing this term from the religious folk.  What I mean by this is religious people are ignorant to so many things.  I don’t mean this as an insult but simply the fact that they are brainwashed into believing so many illogical things.  Science disproves so many of the ideas of religion and yet they are either ignored or twisted to fit those theological ideals.  Religious people turn their backs on truth and reality.  They live their lives believing in childish things.  Through my eyes it is honestly no different than if an adult were to still believe in Santa Clause.  It’s just plain frustrating to me that despite the ever increasing explanations provided through science people still cling on hopelessly to their beliefs.  If the religious would simply have an open mind towards the facts they would see how silly they were to believe in the first place.  That’s what I mean by saving them.  I want to open their eyes to the reason and logic that I, and every other Atheist, understand.

               So you knew it was coming.  The “other” reason why I care about the abolition of religion.  The fact that religious doctrine slows the progress of our species and then some.  Abortion, same sex marriage, and stem cell research are just some examples of this.  There are no valid, scientific, arguments for the ban on these things that religious people so dutifully fight for.  It is simply that their religion deems them “wrong”.   These are just a few of the more prominent examples.  I’m sure if I spent the time to research I could find dozens of other examples of religion holding back progress.  And then there’s the whole “I’m right, you’re wrong” aspect of religion.  A majority of the wars, genocide, and unfair treatment of human beings throughout history have occurred because of religion.  I understand that the abolition of religion wouldn’t stop these events from occurring but it certainly would reduce them.

               You might have read that article I posted in the beginning and thought, “no way”.  In fact I did as well, until I remembered some quotes from this really cool (and pretty short) thought experiment called “God’s Debris” written by the creator of the Dilbert comics.  I haven’t finished it yet but so far I find it quite intriguing and highly recommend it. In fact here’s a link to a free .pdf download of it:


There’s some interesting and thought provoking stuff in this story.  One of the parts I found interesting was one of the main characters takes on the religious and something that makes the abolition of religion seem plausible:

“Four billion people say they believe in God, but few genuinely believe. If people believed in God, they would live every minute of their lives in support of that belief. Rich people would give their wealth to the needy. Everyone would be frantic to determine which religion was the true one. No one could be comfortable in the thought that they might have picked the wrong religion and blundered into eternal damnation, or bad reincarnation, or some other unthinkable consequence. People would dedicate their lives to converting others to their religions. “A belief in God would demand one hundred percent obsessive devotion, influencing every waking moment of this brief life on earth. But your four billion so-called believers do not live their lives in that fashion, except for a few. The majority believe in the usefulness of their beliefs—an earthly and practical utility—but they do not believe in the underlying reality.”

           So, as you can see through this revealing take on religious people, most don’t really “practice what they preach” in the first place.  Religion in most places just so happens to be the societal norm and so it continues to propagate.  However, Atheism is slowly on the rise and as it continues to grow so will society change.  If you don’t believe me take a look at the many European countries that have a very secular government without any influence of religion.  In those countries Atheists tend to be the majority.  Maybe 2041 is still a little too soon, but at some point in the future I believe we will, indeed, see the death of religion.

Sunday, July 14, 2013


               Well, I’ve finally made it to “The ‘Stan”.  So it’s time for another post.  I would like to talk about the indoctrination of children into religion.  This is a very big topic within the Neo Atheist movement.  Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, Sam Harris, and other prominent Atheists believe indoctrination is just another form of child abuse.  I have to agree.  I will explain why I feel this way below.

               There are many reasons why indoctrinating children is wrong.  Probably the most horrible reason: Hell.  Telling a child that if they don’t believe in god they will spend an eternity in a tortuous hell is just awful.  Now maybe you will argue that god will judge you on your deeds and not your beliefs.  Well, it’s the same thing.  Telling a child that if they do not behave they will go to hell is just as bad.  You are forcing your child to believe what you believe with the threat of the most extreme punishment imaginable.  How can this be okay?

               Another reason forcing your religion on a child is wrong would be the fact that you are not allowing them to think for themselves.  You’re pushing your beliefs onto them.  You’re teaching children to except what we don’t know as god and not allowing them to question everything as they should.  Evolution has programmed us to follow the guidance of our elders at a very early age.  We listen to and believe just about anything an adult tells us when we’re very young.  This is very useful to our survival because in our early years, when we know nothing, it’s a good idea to believe an adult when they say that a fire is hot.  You can insert any other example you’d like here as well.  The point is, we as children trust those much older and wiser than ourselves.  These same people are the ones telling us god is real so it is easy for us to be duped like they were.  Nobody is immune to being fooled.  If most religions weren’t so insistent on ensuring one does not question the existence of god this wouldn’t be so bad.  Unfortunately, religion thrives because it makes such a big deal about having faith and not questioning something as powerful as god.  So even when we do reach the age of reason we don’t think twice about how illogical and irrational religion is.  It is because of this that you take all the freedom away from a child to think for him/herself.  Who are you to choose the life a person will lead, regardless if they’re your child or not?  That’s what you are doing.  You are taking away the free will you claim to have by forcing a child into your religion.

               My stance is this: present the facts and show the evidence and let the child decide.  I have struggled with how to deal with religion with my 2 sons as they get older.  This is my conclusion; there is no evidence that a god exists, however, there is tons of evidence that he doesn’t exist.  So I will teach my kids the facts and allow them to come to their own decision about whether or not a god exists or not.  I imagine they will see the logical rationality in Atheism and follow in their father’s footsteps.  Just as most people would if they weren’t indoctrinated as such an early age.  Richard Dawkins has talked about the religious labels we give children.  We call them Christian, Muslim, or Jewish children.  Why?  They are their own person and deserve to decide that for themselves.  We don’t call them Democrat, Republican, or Libertarian children.  So what makes religion any different?

               By not allowing children to think for themselves and form their own opinions and by telling them they will burn in hell for not following your beliefs is abusive.  This should not be tolerated.  If I ever find out someone has been preaching to my children they had better hope they are right in their beliefs because they will soon have a chance to find out what really happens (if anything) after death.  I will not allow it and neither should you.  If you believe in god, fine, but give your children the chance to figure things out on their own.  Don’t force your beliefs on them.  When they’ve reached the age of reason and can make those decisions on their own they will.  If they come to a different conclusion than you then so be it.  Maybe then you should take a good look at your own beliefs and question them as well as your upbringing that brought you to those beliefs in the first place.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Morality: Do you really want to take it from the bible?

     Morality is a subject I don't even like to debate with Theists.  Their arguments are completely unfounded and the only evidence needed to prove it is the very book they claim to get their morality from.  During this post I will attack Christians specifically, as most of my attacks do.  This is for the simple fact that, as an American, it is the religion I am forced to deal with on a daily basis because it is the predominant religion in this country.  The Christian claim is that morality is outside the realm of science and can only come from god.  I have also heard it argued that god created us with a "moral conscience".  So if even we don't take our morality from the bible, we don't need to because it's already built inside us.  The funny thing about this argument is that part of it may be true.  Research is currently being conducted to find a link between the brain and our morality.  If such a connection is found than part of that statement could be proven to be real.  Maybe morality is, indeed, apart of who we are.  That does nothing to prove that it was god that did it though.  Essentially that just shifts the debate back to the ultimate question: Does god really exist? 
     So the question that Atheists ask and that Theists claim to be true is: Do we need religion to be moral?  The answer is no.  So where does morality come from then?  There are too alternative approaches to this question: Science and Philosophy.  While I prefer the philosophical approach, people such as Sam Harris have turned to science for their answers.  While I don't necessarily agree with all of it, Sam Harris makes a very good case for the scientific approach in this TEDTalk:

Something interesting to point out about Sam Harris is he originally earned a degree in philosophy from Stanford University but in 2009 returned to school to earn a PhD in cognitive neuroscience for the specific purpose of finding the answers to morality within the scientific realm.  You can still see the philosophical approach in a lot of his points though.  It just makes sense for a social species such as humans to have a general sense of morality.  What is best for the species as a whole?  Certainly killing each other, for the most part, doesn't benefit the existence of our species.  Stealing from other people might help you in the short term, but ultimately it's only going to alienate you from the rest of the group once your are eventually caught.  We don't need the bible to tell us these things are bad.  Through our own personal experience (as well as what we learn from our parents, mentors, etc.)  we can understand that certain things are just wrong.  Just about every religion (including those that existed before the Abrahamic religions) has some form of the "Golden Rule" within it.  "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  Well that just makes sense.  If you wouldn't want someone to kill you, steal from you, and/or enslave you, then why would you do those things to other people?  It's just common sense.
     While Sam Harris and a lot of other people, including Christians, try to look at morality in an objective sense; I think it is really a subjective issue.  Nothing is black and white, there are always gray areas.  This is why we have different degrees of murder within our justice system.  There's a difference between just walking up to a random person on the street and killing them for no good reason and killing someone in self defense to save yourself from getting killed by someone who just walked up to you on the street.  Therefore killing, in itself, is not wrong in certain contexts.  It is, for the most part, not a good way to propagate our species, however.  So we can generally accept it as morally wrong to kill.
     Okay, so Theists claim that without god (religion) we have no formal structure of morality for which to live our lives.  Basically, they argue that if we don't follow god's word through the bible we are simply making it up as we go along.  Well, what's wrong with that?  Times change.  Our society changes.  Things happen that cause us to reassess our societal framework.  Our founding fathers understood this when developing the basic principals of our government.  This is why we are able to amend the laws.  Sometimes a law which was once needed may no longer be relevant for current times.  The same can be said for moral law.  But Theists maintain that the archaic laws written in the bible should be followed today.  These laws were written during a different era long before the complex societies we live in today were created.  Some of these laws don't even have anything to do with morality.  I'm talking about the 10 commandments.  Take your pick as to which version you would like to use:

I would also like to point out that the punishments for breaking these laws contradict the very laws for which they uphold. Here's what I mean:

As you can see, disobeying the 6th commandment (which tells us we should not kill) is punishable by killing.  Well then, that makes sense, right?  We shouldn't kill, so if someone does kill, we should kill them.  I would also like to point out that that is not the only law punishable by death.  How many of these laws have you broken in your lifetime?  More importantly, how many times have Christians, themselves, broken these laws?  Should we put them to death because they worked on a Sunday?  Of course not, but this is what they claim to believe in.
     Okay, maybe we can all agree that the 10 commandments are outdated and shouldn't be followed verbatim.  Still, the overall message in the bible is one that we should all model our lives after, right?  The moral groundwork is laid throughout the entire book.  While there are some good points made in the bible which do offer a good sense of how we should live our lives, there are bad ones as well.  If you truly believe god's word as written in the bible is the basis for which we should model ourselves after you are strongly mistaken.  Slavery, prostitution, genocide, pedophilia, rape, and murder are just some examples of the conduct that is excepted, even encouraged, throughout the bible. Here's your proof:

"As you approach a town to attack it, first offer its people terms for peace.  If they accept your terms and open the gates to you, then all the people inside will serve you in forced labor.  But if they refuse to make peace and prepare to fight, you must attack the town.  When the LORD your God hands it over to you, kill every man in the town.  But you may keep for yourselves all the women, children, livestock, and other plunder.  You may enjoy the spoils of your enemies that the LORD your God has given you." - Deuteronomy 20:10-14

"Thus says the Lord: 'I will bring evil upon you out of your own house.  I will take your wives [plural] while you live to see it, and will give them to your neighbor.  He shall lie with your wives in broad daylight.  You have done this deed in secret, but I will bring it about in the presence of all Israel, and with the sun looking down.' Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the Lord."  Nathan answered David: "The Lord on his part has forgiven your sin: you shall not die.  But since you have utterly spurned the Lord by this deed, the child born to you must surely die."  - 2 Samuel 12:11-14 NAB

These are just a couple of examples but there are many, many more.  I encourage you to read the bible yourself if you don't believe this is true.  If you need more examples as proof you can also check out my source for these quotes:

     Theists also argue that that is the Old Testament.  Things were much different when Jesus entered the picture.  Really?  I beg to differ.  The New Testament is filled with contradictions as well.  For an interesting breakdown of Jesus' famous Sermon on the Mount check out:

     You don't have to take my word for it.  Do the research yourself and you will find that the bible is probably not the best source from which to base our morality.  Humanity itself is the ultimate source for moral judgment.  Treating everyone with dignity and respect for the sake of simply being human should be all we need to know for what is right and what is wrong.  Someday soon (hopefully) this will be proven without a shadow of a doubt through scientific proof and we will be one step closer to stomping out the wrongful, bigoted morality that exists within the bible.  Theists claim that to be an Atheist and not live by the bible, I must be an evil, immoral person.  Well judging by the bible's sense of morality I suppose that is true.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.