Friday, November 13, 2009

You’re Asking the Wrong Questions.

As atheists, we are often asked questions such as “What do atheists think about X?” or “What would you replace religion with, if your remove it? or “Why do you hate god?”  You are asking the wrong questions.
“What do atheists think about X?”

Why are these wrong questions?  Well, firstly, Atheism is not a detailed philosophy or set of beliefs.  Atheism is simply a response to one question, “Do you believe in a God?”  If you answer “No”, then you are an atheist.  That’s it.  There is nothing else that you can say about a person that claims to be an atheist.  While many of us generally have similar beliefs, there is no common set of beliefs that can be called “Atheism”, just the one statement about a belief in the existence of god.  So when you ask a question such as “What do atheists think about X?” we can only really tell you what our individual position is on the question at hand.  A better question is “What do YOU think about X?”

“What would you replace religion with, if your remove it?”

Nothing.  I believe religion to be like a disease.  It spreads from person to person throughout generations infected their believe systems.  It makes good people do bad things to other people based on what their particular scripture requires.  Some people appear to have a natural immunity to the disease (the non-believers) and others only carry the disease (those that claim to be Christians, Muslims, etc., but don’t actually believe that their “holy” book is infallible or should be taken literally).  So, if I could eliminate a disease from society, why would I want to replace it with something else?  Imagine a doctor telling his patient, “John, we have eradicated your cancer.  What would you like to have in its place? Smallpox, diphtheria, anthrax, or Alzheimer’s?  So again, it’s the wrong question.  People are generally good and they will continue to do good things with or without religion – millions of atheists do everyday – but some will do evil in the name of religion, so why would I want to replace that?

“Why do you hate god?”

That one is simple.  We don’t.  It is completely irrational to hate something that you don’t think exists.  What we “hate” is the cruelty and injustice perpetrated by people in the name of religion.   We are against those that try to force their particular religious beliefs on the rest of us by introducing religious tenets into secular law or secular activities (e.g., creationism in public schools, laws against gay marriage or abortion).  We are against those that pretend to offer charity, but attach religious strings to it or those that spread lies to defend their religious position (e.g., stating the condoms contribute to AIDS in order to promote abstinence only education).
Personally, I don’t hate god because he isn’t real; however, if the god of the bible were real and the bible were an accurate portrayal of god, I would despise him.  Not because he is god, but because he is cruel, unjust, and unfit to have the title “God”.

So, again, the wrong question.  We don’t hate god, we hate what he often appears to promote and what his followers do in his name.

A better question.

A better question is “Why do you believe in god?”  Why do you believe in a deity that is so cruel, violent, homophobic, misogynistic, and blood-thirsty?  And if you are either against these parts of his character or don’t believe that this is his character, why do you continue to support the religion and the scriptures that clearly illustrate him in that manner?


Makarios said...

"It makes good people do bad things to other people based on what their particular scripture requires."

What Scripture requires me to do bad things to other people?

bucolic social leper said...

The Bible is full of rage against homosexuals and requires them to be stoned. While people generally no longer physically attack gay people, they do their best to deny them equal status is society.

Due to biblical interpretations of "be fruitful and multiply" some sects advocate abstinence-only policies towards sex education. And some, the Catholic Church for example, spread lies about the negative impact of condoms. They do this to support their particular religious agendas. These lies contribute to deaths and teenage pregnancies.

Many of the issues are rooted in Old Testament Law which Jesus said was still valid. There are far too many to list here.

The point is that because of the interpretation of the scriptures, people will do things that have a negative impact on others. Religion should be personal, not imposed on others.