I must say that if anyone wants to believe in a religion then that’s fine by me, it’s your choice, well I hope it’s a choice, back to that later. Suffice to say if it works for you and you don’t impact other people in a negative way with your belief then OK, carry on. I do honestly suspect that most people who believe in a god do not truly, deep down, think it’s all real. I would imagine it may work more from the general moral approach to life that most religions promote. It may give people comfort to believe there is some super-being that is looking out for them and if they are good in this short time we have living on earth then they will be rewarded.
Lets imagine for now that there is a god. How did he/she/it come into being? Most religious people argue, because of the complexity of life there has to be a creator, it can’t have come out of nothing as the current Big Bang theory postulates. Yes, certainly it’s a hard thing to grasp, however it is a perfectly plausible theory and fits with our current Standard Model understanding of physics. Then why is it so easy to accept a story for some about the creation of god(s) from nothing?
There then is another question, why is it not just one god, we are talking a shed load of them from all areas of the world? The general rule is that depending on where you were born you will believe in the most popular religion that country supports. This makes them seem to be very local phenomenons. Lets take a look at a few, it’s Brahman for Hindus, Allah for Muslims, Holy Spirit for Christians, Biame for Aboriginals, Zeus for the old Greeks (well they had loads of them but he was the god of gods) & Xenu (I think) for Scientologists, sorry I could not undertake to research this in case Google added this to its secret sauce of what I like.
That’s just to name a few gods, there are seemingly endless variations. One I almost forgot is Jedi. In England and Wales 390,127 people (almost 0.8%) stated their religion as Jedi on their 2001 national census forms, surpassing Sikhism and Judaism, making it the fourth largest reported religion in the country. Possibly all the aforementioned deities are all the one god and somehow they have been regionalised over the years to better suit the local ethos. We don’t know for sure as none of this is based on any kind of evidence or facts, they are just stories handed down over the years that we are not supposed to question.
I don’t think any rational person would believe that all these varied stories can be an accurate depiction of events and reality. So the religious among us chose one or generally have one chosen for them. Your parents will have a huge bearing on what you believe in life and religion will be one of these. If you do have children please try and give them just the facts about religion and let them decide for themselves what faith, if any, they want to follow.
I read a report recently about one poor kid who showed great promise as a doctor and was persuaded against taking that path by his parents and instead to pursue a life devoted to god. Who knows how many people he could have helped in the future if he had become a doctor, perhaps he would have found a cure for some major disease. OK he could also go on to be a great person for promoting charity work and help people in that way, but should he not have been left to make his own mind up?
I can say that the Earth revolves around the sun, the speed of light is 299,792,458 m/s, the atomic weight of cobalt is 58.9u, with certainty these are undisputed facts. Many other things we have to take on faith so to speak, for example, I have never seen a car being made, but I think I’m pretty safe in saying they are produced in a factory. I don’t KNOW one hundred percent that the Duck-Billed Platypus is a real animal I have never seen one first hand, however I believe they exist.
These are conclusions based on logic, it makes sense for a car to be made in a factory and why would there be a world wide conspiracy to convince people the Platypus is real when it is not? Therefore I can have faith in things that I don’t know for sure are real, but they have to have a certain amount of credibility. If I believed in a god that was an Invisible Pink Unicorn then how is this different from an invisible man in the sky? They both have the same amount of proof, or rather lack off, to back them up. The people who put down Jedi as their religion have just as much proof that it’s real as any other major religion.
Occam’s razor tells us that the simplest explanation for something is usually the correct one. The image to the right shows a still taken from a CCTV camera at the bottom of my garden. Is it proof of the existence of fairies, or is it a insect? If you are hearing voices from god in your head, what’s more likely, God is talking to you or it’s a hallucination?
“Imagine if you carried on believing in Santa and the tooth fairy into adulthood. And even killed & started wars over it. Haha. Imagine that.” – Ricky Gervais
With religion there is generally one manuscript, such as The Bible, Quran, Book of Mormon, Dianetics etc that says ‘this is the truth, believe in this’. There is nothing to back this up, you have to suspend any doubts and trust it. Many years ago we would see eclipses and think it was the work of an angry god, today we know better, it’s because the moon eclipses the sun. We thought the tides were the work of god (even Bill O’Reilly does today) we do now know, thankfully, they are due to the moons gravitational influence on the Earth.
In the past things have been unknown and by debate, reasoning, thought or physical experiments we have been able to better understand the working behind them. At no point EVER have we found any evidence for a god at work, let alone actually seeing him, a bit like the Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot. If something is not understood then, given time, a person can use logic and experimentation to explain it. A religious person is more likely to take the easy way out and find some supernatural solution to the problem that fits with his or her beliefs. Which solution do you think is correct?
The extremely scary part is when people chose a faith basted option when it comes to their health, or the health of their children. Medicine undergoes a rigorous scientific testing period to prove that it works before it’s released to the public. Going to a Faith healing or witch doctor is a dangerous option to take as they almost all have nothing of any evidence to back them up. Perhaps pursue a faith based treatment if all else fails, but don’t make it your first or only choice.
Science will admit when it is wrong. Religion will kill to prove it is right.
When people believe all the answers to life exist in one teaching based on no evidence then they are severely denying themselves from the beauty of discovery. If there were no science we would have no Doctors or medicines, air planes, phones & computers etc. We would instead be a stagnant society running scared every time we saw an eclipse or a river floods it’s banks.
This is possibly where religion depresses me the most, if there had been no religion and the oppression it has enforced to free will and understanding where would we be now? Going back a bit to my undisputed facts for a second; In 1632, Galileo found that the Earth orbited the sun and he was promptly locked up for it by the Catholic Church. Galileo had proof for this, what did the church have? The church had a collection of contradictory passages from one book, The Bible. In 1992 the church finally acknowledged he was correct. Just 360 years late, soz Galileo. This is just one example of religion impeding progress, there are many, many more. You may want to read my other blog on Creationism. It’s cool, its got Dinosaurs in it, unlike the bible, which really should have, but somehow they were not mentioned!
Instead of cowering in ignorance for thousands of years under the stale rule of religion, imagine if we had been a species that methodically tried to understand our world with reason, we would have advanced exponentially. Religion has held us back ever since it’s creation, it inhibits learning.
A religious person will read one book and believe that holds all the answers, an Atheist will never stop reading and acknowledges that he or she will never know everything. However they will get more understanding over time and be enlightened by this information and be a better person for this. If god did exist do you think that he/she/it would want us all fearing him/her/it? Would god enforce these fearsome laws such as ‘Don’t take the lords name in vain’, ‘Don’t display images of Allah’ with their dire consequences of death, mutilation or flogging? Is that the sort of leader you want? Is that the sound of reason? Imagine if the beliefs of religions were law, well they are in some places, you can see how well that works out.
It’s a great shame that to speak out against someone’s faith is seen as offensive. To say you are an Atheist often seems like a dirty word. As I mentioned at the start of this blog I think the majority of people follow a religion of some form for the good moral code it lays down (which most religions have). As an Atheist you can still have very high morals and be a good person, it’s not like by questioning things you are a bad person.
However sometimes this is how I feel Atheists are treated. It seems a bit one sided when, by questioning someone’s belief is seen as offensive, but it’s never the other way round. In polite society you should not say openly that you find religion offensive. Perhaps it’s for the same reason you don’t tell a small child that Santa or the Easter Bunny is not real.
At the end of the day you don’t have to believe in science, it works, it’s proven, repeatedly. Religion is smoke and mirrors with a good helping of blind faith. Almost all religions will have you believe that how you conduct yourself in this life will dictate how you spend the rest of your life in the next world. In Christianity if you are good you go to heaven, if not hell. Similar set-up for other religions, carrot and stick. At the end of the day it’s a good tool for controlling people, which is possibly why it has survived such a long time.
Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich. – Napoleon Bonaparte
Use religion to make your life more peaceful if it works for you, but please never give up questioning and exploring ideas in life.
Stephen Fry’s answer to what would he say if he met god.