Atheism and my anger towards religion is a topic I’ve wanted to write about for a while now, but, to be honest, I’ve been a bit nervous.
What makes me nervous is that I want to avoid hurting the feelings of people I love.
But, as many of you know, I’m not afraid to have a frank conversation about volatile topics, so this shouldn’t be a bombshell.
Although I’ve been surrounded by religious people throughout my life, I was never subjected to a ruthless and unrequested indoctrination – thankfully. I consider myself extremely lucky that the influence of religion in my life has been so limited.
I have close friends and relatives who are Christians, Mormons, Jewish, Buddhists, and more.
Many members of my family are Jewish – some more than others. If one faith has influenced me, it would be Judaism … in a sense.
I’ve been inside a synagogue three or four times in my life – only for funerals and weddings.
I don’t speak Yiddish, I didn’t have a bar mitzvah and I’ve never read the Old Testament … or any other religious text for that matter.
The influence I would say the Jewish religion has had on my life has been cultural, and completely unspiritual.
For me, that’s enough – for others, not so much.
Growing up in Boulder, the influence of Naropa was undeniable. Many of my closest friends in high school were Buddhist (and still are, I’d guess).
My wife grew up as a Christian.
My maternal grandmother rarely missed a Sunday service, niether does my mother-in-law (who I love and respect with all my heart!).
I’ve known a few people who are Muslim. However, I have to admit, I haven’t known them well enough to discuss or be influenced by their faith.
Despite these many ‘positive’ religious influences, I still believe that religion is, at its core, an evil whose time has come and gone.
For many people (mainly the people I get to talk to are Christians) what I have to say is hard to hear.
People have lashed out at me for being openly critical of religion.
Some have said I should “show some respect” and that by voicing my disdain, I’m just as bad as the loud-mouthed, door-knocking, tambourine-bashers I’m rallying against.
My loving, amazing, kind, and always forgiving wife thinks I should just be nice to everyone, all the time… In fact, she’d like to see the whole world live by that philosophy.
But, I can’t. When it comes to religion, I simply can’t turn a blind eye, paint on a shit-eating grin and keep my mouth shut.
I’d like to touch on some of the undeniable bullshit that sticks in my craw.
PLEASE NOTE: This is in no way a complete, or original, diatribe … I’m poaching a lot and leaving out a lot.
Why yours, not theirs? Why now, not yesterday?
One of the major reason I refuse to believe in religion is the inability of any religious person to tell my why their particular version of a particular god is correct while thousands of other versions are not (or weren’t in most cases).
There are currently an estimated 4,200 religious groups on Earth at the moment, and an estimated 63,000 throughout human history.
How can they all be correct? Impossible. You know it, I know it, and most importantly THEY KNOW IT!
Why is one Christian church correct in their interpretation of the bible, while the version trumpeted by Westboro Baptist’s is not?
They’re both talking about the same book, right?
The malleability of the bible and all other religious works makes them easy to manipulate and reinterpret to fit selfish and devious ends. This is a pattern that has occurred throughout history and shows no sign of stopping.
A dangerous slippery slope
If someone will believe in something completely unsupported by facts … that person will believe in anything.
Dangerous, frighteningly dangerous.
‘Religions provide proper moral grounding’ – I call bullshit!
Think about the about the numbers of people who died in the Crusades, the Thirty Years’ War, the Lebanese Civil War … the list goes on and on and on.
Nothing has changed, these atrocities continue today …
Religion is killing Lady Liberty
Despite the fact that I’ve lived a large portion of my life abroad, I consider myself a patriotic American.
In reality, living outside the often jingoistic, clearly xenophobic borders of the USA has caused me to take a much more critical view of my nation… an experience many Americans would benefit from – and no, being in the military doesn’t count (usually).
One thing has become perfectly clear in the last decade – my beloved USA is being torn apart by religion and the fanatical fiscal forces of fucking fundamentalists.
My stomach twists into knots when I think about how my wonderful country – founded on principles of religious freedom and the separation of church and state – is manipulated, and then bought and sold by religious organizations like Focus on the Family, Promise Keepers and others. Not to mention religious hypocrites like the Koch Brothers.
It brings tears to my eyes. Any true patriot should feel anger and shame.
Creationism in schools
When I first started educating myself about evolution and the ‘intellectually challenged’ people who want to teach creationism in the US’s public schools, I took a light-hearted approach.
I thought creationism was little more than a short-lived laugh.
My naïveté was the only thing that turned out to be short-lived – I thought there was no way anyone with two brain cells would consider denying the overwhelming evidence supporting evolution.
The more I’ve looked at it, the more I’ve realized it is a laugh – a dangerous, insidious, scary laugh.
Here is a test … bring together two people; a scientist and a supporter of ‘intelligent design’.
Ask them each to provide two piles of papers; one with scholarly, peer-reviewed, evidence-based reports that support creationism and the other with scholarly, peer-reviewed, evidence-based reports that support evolution.
Without even a moment’s consideration, we all know what the test’s results would be…
We trust our science communities on a plethora of vital, life-changing, dangerous topics every moment of every day.
Because of scientists we can sleep soundly knowing we are safe from the dangers of generating nuclear power.
Because we can trust in science our cars, trains, and airplanes get us where we need to be, without us giving the trip much more than a casual thought.
The perfect cup of coffee each morning, the crunchy brown toast we munch, the mass production of yummy eggs … all thanks to our trust in science to get it right.
Our ability to rely on the accuracy and reliability of scientific theories affects everything we do.
Yet, somehow, the whole of the science community is wrong about the age of the earth, and the origins and development of our species.
Insert sad laugh sound effect here.
The world moves on – the USA remains stuck
There are many amazing scholars and scientists who have to live each day fighting this fight, just so they can do their real jobs… teaching, learning and discovering.
Imagine if the United States of America set free the restraints religion and superstition have placed on science … we’d take back our place as real leaders on this planet!
Instead, we allow belief systems that were developed thousands of years ago to muzzle genius.
Believe me, other nations are banking on the bondage of religion so they can advance.
It makes us a laughing-stock, and we are being left behind.
Time to Wake Up!
To be honest, I could go on for a long time about this – and, to be honest, my knowledge-base on this topic is only growing.
And NO, I won’t be quiet about it. No one should. If we remain quiet, nothing will change.
If that makes me unpopular on Facebook with people I haven’t seen in 15 years, so be it.
If my wife gets in a grump because I’m not afraid to say something unpopular, in a public space, which might rock a few boats, so be it.
This issue is too important to stay quiet, even if I risk hurting people I love.