After today’s Press Release by Professor Richard Dawkins releasing the results of a survey purportedly showing that there is only a tiny proportion of the UK that are really Christian, an atheist reacts.
I’ve got a bit of a rant today. And it’s probably not going to go where you expect it to. It’s in response to Richard Dawkins’ latest shenanigan which is his continual attempt to devalue and denigrate important subjective experiences which for many give their lives meaning, fulfillment and happiness. Those experiences can be summed up as religious ones, which it is clearly Dawkins’s aim to eradicate. Like O’Brien, the Thought Police Officer in Orwell’s 1984, Dawkins bangs on relentlessly about it, generating ill-will, disharmony and acrimony wherever he goes.
Dawkins’s latest trick has been to do a survey which, though he is not claiming it himself, many will misuse to ride rough-shod over the beliefs that many hold important, by claiming that “the majority are not religious”. As if weight of public opinion ever changed a convert.
Before I go on, let’s make it plain, I am an atheist. But if there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s atheists who just don’t have a clue why they’re atheists.
Here’s a classic I heard a few days ago from an otherwise not unintelligent woman:
“They should ban religion. Religion is the cause of all the warfare and strife and trouble in the world.”
If you are one of the people who believes that, think about what you’re saying, and consider the following:
1) Do you really believe that before there was religion, everyone was soft and fluffy and nice to each other, in some kind of mythical past? Do you really? What are you telling me? That it was some kind of EDEN or something, before religion?
2) Although religion has had a grip on people’s imaginations for millennia, the 20th Century saw mass movements that had nothing to do with religion. Now let’s have a look through history at what those secular mass-movements achieved.
Let’s do so by asking a simple question: Who was the biggest mass murderer of all time?
Was it the religious Osama Bin Laden? I sincerely doubt it.
Was it Adolf Hitler, with his weird belief in National Socialism that twisted some Christian ideas and turned them into a rationale for killing 6 millions Jews, Gipsies and Homosexuals, among others – allegedly on a purely scientific basis?
Nope, not Adolf.
How about Stalin? Well, with Stalin we’re getting somewhere. His purges caused the deaths of an estimated 15-30 million people. Wow! Look at all those deaths! That’s quite impressive for someone who had a belief system that had nothing to do with “the cause of all the trouble in the world.”
But hey, let’s not stop there. Let’s look at Mao Tse Tung. His rule, with its starvation, mass suicides and political persecution is estimated to have caused the deaths of 40-70 million people.
Not bad going for someone who was an atheist, huh?
So what were you saying about religion being the cause of all the trouble in the world?
3) Is it possible that people in the West have forgotten one of the reasons religion was invented? It can be quite cogently argued that big moral rules were designed to make psychopaths quake in their boots at the possibility that even they might be answerable to someone.
In this model, morals, a belief in an afterlife in which you will be punished or rewarded, were designed to try, however unsuccessfully, to control the savage at the centre of so many human beings.
Logically speaking, and looked at in the abstract, the fact that it has failed time and time again is not a sign that God does not exist nor that religion is wrong. It is a sign that despite religious people’s best attempts, bad people do bad things in the name of whatever comes to hand. That is, their psychopathology finds a way to use religious belief for its own ends.
Which explains a lot about pervy vicars and warmongering imams.
And before you say – well that’s just an Original Sin argument – no – it’s not. I told you: I’m an atheist.
4) One final point. If, as you say, “religion is the cause of every bad thing that people do in the world”, are you seriously telling me that every time a football hooligan stabs a fan of another team, every time a skinhead knifes a black person and every time a burglar breaks into a house and beats the living daylights out of a pensioner, they’re doing it in the name of God? Do you think they pray afterwards, reporting back to the boss man in the sky about how well they’ve done? Do you?!
Fellow atheists: get your facts straight and stop being so lazy in your thinking. If you’re going to not believe in God, don’t just martial the incidentals of history to assert that God doesn’t exist.
You can debate whether the things done in the name of religion are good or bad till you are blue in the face – because doing that does not prove one way or the other a single thing about God’s existence or otherwise. That’s like arguing that because people get killed in cars, cars are inherently evil. It’s just muddled thinking.
I am tired of Lazy Atheists. To me, there is only one thing as stupid as believing in God because you are told a line, or you see something useful in it. It’s not believing in God because you have swallowed a line and see something useless in it.
Lazy Atheists, prejudice is not proof in the same way that faith does not prove existence.
Finally, if you can’t find a well-thought-out argument that really works – then remember – every time you open your mouth and wheel out these ill-formed prejudices, it’s YOU who’s causing the strife, trouble, intolerance and grief in the world you’re so happy to accuse the other side of fostering.
Remember: knee-jerk anger and intolerance will turn you into the person you hate. Religious, or not.