Why Can’t You Leave Religion Alone? blog by Seth Andrews

 

 

Why Can’t You Leave Religion Alone?

Seth    Jan 28, 2011 2:00:54 PM | Date Modified: Sep 5, 2012 4:13:14 AM

The protests come every day from the religious, and they go something like this:

* “Why spend your time disproving God?”

* “Why not just let people believe what they want to believe?”

* “Why can’t you leave religion alone?”

As one YouTube commenter said recently, “No one can explain to me why it is so important to convince theists to abandon their beliefs.”

The answer is simple. Pages like this one exist because religion exists.

Religion permeates our culture, shows up on our doorsteps with literature, scriptures and threats of eternal damnation, influences our science books, contaminates our political systems, indoctrinates our children and postulates that its doctrine must be followed, lest we be destroyed in body, in soul, or both.

Non-believers are simply responding to the avalanche of religious messages that bears down upon us daily.

Religion gets carte blanche to be as vocal as it wants, to knock on our doors and accost us in our homes, in our places of work, in our personal and professional lives. Believers are charged with a life mission to preach, teach, disciple, shout it from the mountaintops and to “go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Religion…is everywhere.

Ask yourself. When’s the last time an atheist rang your doorbell with the Good News of Humanism? How often do you find Richard Dawkins books in the dresser drawers of your hotel rooms? When was the last atheist temple erected in your neighborhood? Have you ever attended an atheist revival? Has atheism demanded 10% of your household income? How many dedicated atheist television channels come through your satellite dish? How many atheist verses were you instructed to memorize as a child? When’s the last time someone thanked a FARMER (or even the cook) at the dinner table instead of God?

On a more radical front, what’s the name of the last atheist who sawed the head off of an “infidel?” Or sentenced a shrouded woman to death for displeasing an oppressive husband? Or strapped explosives to his belt in order to kill hundreds in a public square? Or publicly hung a gay person for his lifestyle?

It’s everywhere. Religion is a pounding drum that has gone mostly unanswered for a long, long time. And religion is not satisfied with merely existing quietly in the homes and hearts of the faithful. Its very nature compels the believer to proselytize, preach, promote, convince, convert and prevail. If you play on the team of the religious, your game plan is to stay, always, on offense.

Throughout our history, those who raise a simple hand of protest against these advances have been portrayed as the real problem. Religion has attempted to marginalize and defeat legitimate questions and concerns by indignantly portraying any resistors as misguided, immoral, rudderless, angry, miserable, lost and alone.

And when skepticism challenges wildly improbable (or impossible) stories found in the bible, the Qur’an and other holy books, the religious wail, “Why can’t you just leave us alone?”

The irony is thick.

And religion impedes curiosity and inhibits learning, as the much-maligned Creation Museum proves. It stymies critical thinking. It stretches us to believe the unbelievable. And it poisons the foundational teachings we are using to train up the generations of tomorrow.

Pages like mine exist as a response… a counter-argument to ensure that the cacophony of superstition does not go unchallenged. And if your belief system is so undeniable, so factual, so provable, so real and so true, certainly it can withstand the opposing viewpoints presented here and elsewhere. Certainly, it can survive the acid tests.

Just remember. Religion began the argument. It amplifies itself before the world. And it threatens all mankind with punishment upon its rejection.

We are atheists. We are moral. We are reasonable. We are thoughtful, intelligent, compassionate, happy, fulfilled and well-informed.

And as long as religion insists on fixing human beings who are not broken, we will respond with the evidence that we are not the problem.

-Seth Andrews (The Thinking Atheist, written 01/28/11

Speaking Out…Too Much?

When a religious person feels a calling, feels passionate and incensed by what he or she sees as fundamental wrongs in the world, and wants to make of themselves an adversary against that wrong, they become a church leader, or a pastor or a priest, or a reverend, and evangelist or missionary.  Do these people sit idly by and tolerate their views challenged, or maligned, or misrepresented, or contradicted, or blasphemed?  Or do they speak out loudly in defense of their truth and what they think of as morally right, sometimes with anger, sometimes calling themselves one with god’s army like they are at war?

What about when an atheist feels passionate and incensed by what he or she sees as a fundamental wrong in the world?   What about when an atheist has to hear his views on what is good and right in the world dragged through the mud and compared with Hitler or Stalin or called Satanism or worse?  Should the atheist sit idly by?  Or should the atheist likewise take up arms (verbally) and fight, even risking personal loss of family, friends and reputation (does the religious person risk losing these things?), for what he or she believes is reason, truth, liberating, and morally right?

A little while ago someone read the Richard Dawkins transcripts I posted on my blog from the 2012 Reason Rally.  This person criticizes Dawkins for his declaring proudly:

“Mock them! Ridicule them! In public! Don’t fall for the convention that we’re all too polite to talk about religion. Religion is not off the table. Religion is not off-limits.  Religion makes specific claims about the universe which need to be substantiated and need to be challenged and, if necessary, need to be ridiculed with contempt.”

Why is it wrong for Dawkins to encourage this?  If a person truly believes that his friends or family or society is being misled by a lie, a fraud, a scam, and not just a lie but what they see as an immoral and harmful one, shouldn’t he or she speak out?  Aren’t they in all good conscience obligated to speak out because to not would be tantamount to agreeing with or approving of that which they do not? 

If the atheist is wrong and the theist is right, surely what is true should have the stuff to stand all on its own!  Why would it require its challengers to be silent, or apologists defending or clarifying or explaining what it should have already made clear?  Truth is truth.  No amount of atheist arguments should be any threat; no amount of science, exploration or discovery should be a threat either–if in fact it is truth.

Should atheists be cowards before the religious who have no problem expressing themselves and speaking out?  Should we be silent and let what we see as a delusion continue unchallenged?   Or should we speak of what we know or think, add to the discussion what we have read, facts or questions that so often have been ignored or drowned out or swept under rugs, or worse, twisted to further some very human agendas?

Do atheists have an agenda?   Do we ask for money or seek to build mansions in the sky by pounding our beliefs into other people, finding fault in other people for not thinking the way we do?

I don’t particularly care, and I don’t think atheists do,  if there are more atheists in the world or less theists.  I try to be live and let live. But at the same time I am not going to be silent just because what I see as the truth is not what the majority in my society wants to see.  The truth is the truth, be it popular with the masses or not.   No amount of denial can blot it out.  No amount of speaking in the contrary can change it.

As for lies, they eventually fall to pieces under close scrutiny.  Don’t they?