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Sunday, June 23, 2013
R. McNiel Foster’s article, “Why atheists pray,” unwittingly reveals an egocentric world view so prejudiced against atheists it’s entertaining. Nothing new here, as believers define others through bias rather than spend time understanding divergent viewpoints. After all, that’s what religion is all about — belief without critical thought, or evidence.
Foster claims the armies of atheism gather forces and start a spring offensive to obliterate god from schools or public functions. As a nonbeliever I’ve never heard of this army. What kind of uniforms do they wear? Who finances this army? Demons from hell?
He states atheism is a religion who’s devoted believers claim “there positively is no supreme being greater than himself.” Minus the hysteria, my atheism stems from a complete lack of evidence for myth and deities. I have no doubt there are people greater than myself. It also appears reasonable that in this vast universe there are likely other intelligences greater than us. Once again, typical of religious assumptions, his are wrong.
Foster writes we atheists live in “a dark basement netherworld.” Sounds scary, but I live in a bright yellow house on Bent Mountain amid the beautiful trees, flowers and wildlife I adore.
He says we spend vast sums of money to promote the “religion” of atheism. Atheism is not a religion, it’s non-religion. Lack of belief, is not a belief system. I’ve never spent a nickel promoting my lack of religion. In fact I find it offensive to promote any kind of belief. Belief is a state of mind — the arrogance of a closed and biased mindset, and thus a faulty method to determine reality. Support of belief always becomes an attitude of self-serving superiority as demonstrated by religions worldwide.
There is far more humble and proven way to view our existence. It’s called science — the study of reality. Unlike religion, science does not require TV evangelists, faith healers, snake charmers or gospel music. Scientists do not preach the praises of Planks constant, or quantum mechanics each Sunday. The rational scientific mind does not need to sell itself into the trap of belief and myth. The rational mind seeks what is actually real.
Four hundred years ago, Galileo correctly argued that natural law (physics) governs the universe, not your favorite spirit, or demon. Yet even today, some people claim an invisible magic being with long hair and a beard grants wishes and alters the laws of nature, if you ask just the right way under your breath. And religious folk call nonbelievers crazy?
Science has been in direct conflict with religion ever since the Enlightenment. Prior to this, people were tortured and burned alive for the sin of an open mind. They were murdered by the religious for seeking the truth. Contempt for nonbelievers still exists right here in the Bible Belt. So much for religion’s claims of morality.
Truth is a stubborn thing. Even religious sponsored torture cannot dissuade free and open minds forever. Today, our intellectual world understands belief is not reality. Belief is what some people prefer to think, or employ in order to place filters on their observance of reality — to convince themselves and others that what they believe is real.
However, belief in something does not make that something real, no matter how sincerely someone believes. It does, however, keep one further away from what actually is real. Belief excludes evidence. Sadly, belief is more powerful than fact in a pious mind.
It seems that once the psyche is infected with belief, no amount of fact, or logic can penetrate a non-existent standard for truth. Belief and religion not only provide delusional thinking, it’s strongly encouraged, and even required.
Fortunately, religion has been in constant retreat for the past four centuries, while science and logic has triumphed, providing the wonders of modern civilization. In my mind, religion is an embarrassment to mankind, while science is our greatest and still evolving accomplishment.
And yet, rather than rationality, some people still cling desperately to religion. This same gang shouts their agenda day in and day out, on radio and television, condemning those who dare not “believe” as they do. Humanity should pity this adolescent behavior, an attitude utterly devoid of evidence or reason yet always absolute and certain.
Foster is correct about one thing. There is an army all right, but it’s an army fighting for superstition, not rationality. This very real army fights in every nation, village, mosque, church and temple, each one smugly damning one another or anyone who dare think for themselves. This arrogant menace still demands to tell us what and how to think, or go to a very bad place called hell and be tortured forever if we do not succumb. How nice.
But we nonbelievers are armed with powerful ideas all religions disdain: curiosity, skepticism and the desire to understand our universe through evidence. We have no need for “sacred” books written by superstitious men. The so-called sacred works that I’ve read are so error prone, inconsistent and illogical they do not even rise to the level of wrong.
And yet, all we ask of the believers is to leave the rest of us alone. Believers are free to think anything they wish, from talking snakes, to a world flood, and even demons in our beer. As for myself, I’m following Galileo’s lead and choose scientific evidence over fantasy and myth.
The universe is a fantastically magnificent and wondrous reality. It operates in amazing ways the human brain is capable of understanding. Why condemn your mind to the limited bondage of myth?
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