1. Why do I say religion (as opposed to faith in the existence of God) should be discouraged?
1.1—-The pernicious tendencies of religion and the religion dividend—-
Beyond the history of religion as a pernicious force (e.g. inquisitions, holy wars, etc.), and beyond its continuing ability to divide (e.g. President Bush, "God is on our side." versus President Lincoln, "I hope we are on God's side.”), religion exacts a tax on the development of our civilization that can be measured in lives lost due to wasted effort. How much time, money and effort has gone into filling the coffers of the Jimmy Swaggerts, the popes, and other religious leaders? Could not the money for building new churches instead be donated to cure cancer? Science does work. Childhood leukemias are now highly (above 90%) curable, whereas just 50 years ago they were nearly always fatal. Or how about putting some of that wasted money into education for better schools and higher paid teachers? There are likely thousands of worthy causes struggling for cash that is otherwise wasted on religion. Now, I do realize 'some' nominal amount of church money does go into cancer research and other good causes, by what fraction of it? Half? I doubt it. So cut out the middle man and send 100% of the cash to the good causes. Then instead of wasting time at church functions, people could put time into their communities. Yes. Some nominal amount of church time is spent on improving communities. But what fraction? Half. I doubt it. Cut out the middle man, and while you're cutting out the middle man, cut out the hypocrisy as well. Why do good members of faith X, Y or Z do their good deeds? Out of the goodness of their own hearts, or for the Holy reward of life after death for Christians and a harem for suicide bombers? The religious do good to save their own skins and the skins of those they care about.
2. What is wrong with morality based on religion?
2.1—-NO DOUBT there is trouble with religion—-
This, NO DOUBT, is what religion is predicated on. No doubt equals faith and conversely. Having NO DOUBT is the innate trouble of most religious doctrine. That is, religion, by its own construct, is innately pernicious, because only under a moral philosophy of NO DOUBT can entire hordes of religiously motivated people throughout the ages, by reason of their NO DOUBT faith, become (Teutonic) Nazis, KKK members, al Qaeda members, witch burners, lynchers, homophobes, misogynists, child molesters, and other numerous types of nefarious -obes, -ists and -ers in order to raze entire civilizations, pillage, plunder, murder, maim, destroy, burn books, imprison scholars, discriminate, rape, butcher, segregate, and slowly eviscerate other peoples. (I'm certain I missed a couple of good ones.) And these religiously motivated people committed these crimes and atrocities against humanity without a doubt in their minds for they were following the will of their God, NO DOUBT.
2.2—-Does lack of religion imply degeneracy?—-
If there is no religion, no faith in God, then what? Can there be no morality as Immanuel Kant would insist? Why does religion have to equate to morality? How many millions of atheists are there out there following the same basic morals of the faithful? Don't kill, steal, cheat, etc., help others, etc., these morals need not have anything to do with religion. These morals, which try to hem our wanton natures, make good sense if one wants to enjoy the fruits of civilization. Does the lack of religion make the enforcement of such morals impossible? Ask the millions of atheists.
3. Can there be alternative, less dangerous moralities?
3.1—-Morality based on the scientific method is less arrogant and thus less dangerous—-
The scientific method is based on doubt up to reproducibility. Cold fusion ala Fleshman and Ponds turned out to be bullshit. It could not be reproduced in other labs. But to follow a scientific based morality is more than this. It is to doubt everything within context. Newton's law of (scalar) gravity works well within its context—no extreme, complex gravity fields. Experiment (the orbit of Mercury with its exposure to a stronger part of the sun's gravity field) indicated there was something not completely correct with Newtonian gravity. Einstein's general theory of relativity took care of that, and we know of no experimental violations of this theory. Yet we doubt Einstein's theory is complete. We expect that someday, with sufficient technology, the experiment will come that shows cracks in Einstein's general relativity. This innate doubt of the scientific method, should, if we are good "scientists", make us humble.
In a world where people shunned NO DOUBT religious faith, and instead searched for demonstrable, defendable, repeatable facts both scientifically and logically, it seems likely there would be less risk of holy war and other such crimes. These people would categorize scientific observations and theories according to their applicability, testability, utility, and probability over other competing models. They would realize there can be no ultimate theory of truth, just models with certain ranges of utility. They would, hopefully, be decent people in the conventional sense of not stealing, cheating, killing, etc., and would, recognizing that humans also have wanton tendencies, bind themselves to secular laws designed to prevent crime and corruption for the better good of civilization.
4. Do we have to believe in God?
4.1—-Can't prove existence or non-existence of God—-must have faith—-
Immanuel Kant proved that we humans can't prove the existence of God. Still, he thought faith (if not proof) of God's existence made sense. He used a design type argument. If a watch needs an intelligent watch maker, then our complex world too, it seems, needs an intelligent creator. He also thought that lack of faith would make it impossible for civilization to arise—we'd all be killing each other off like godless savages, like the millions of today's atheists do all the time. Kant did not consider the possibility that we humans inhabit one of infinitely many universes, with this one allowing for the spontaneous evolution of life from a primordial soup of chemicals. Amino acids, which can be found in meteors, when mixed up in a simulated primitive Earth environment form polypeptide chains after all. In this case, infinite universes, we don't need an intelligent creator. This is not to say, however, that God cannot exist. One can no more prove his existence than his non-existence, but of this more will come down below.
4.2—-Occam's razor—-it's not a close shave.
In its simplest form, Occam's razor states that explanations should never multiply causes without necessity. When two explanations are offered for a phenomenon, the simplest full explanation is preferable.
I would hope that the people of the hypothetical, a-religious world would prefer, using Occam's razor, to think of their existence as having no explanation, and of having no special purpose other than what they made of their own existence while they lived. They would be godless, and they would, hopefully, be driven to help each other out, not for eternal life (in a harem), but out of the goodness of their own hearts. At least, being more realistic, these people would help each other out to help themselves econometrically thru secular laws.
4.3—-But what about salvation? Tough—when you die to die. Until we figure out how to cure aging and disease, and perhaps transform ourselves into more advanced types of indefinitely long lived beings, we die, and our lives will have had no meaning other than quality of our children we raised and what we contributed to the better good of humanity while we lived.
4.4—-The alternative to believing we are nothing special via Occam's razor, is to believe we are something special in the eyes of some higher being, and this requires throwing logic out the window. If the higher being is simply a more scientifically and technologically developed being (or beings), then this is the least of the illogical alternatives to believing we are nothing special. Hey, humanity is BloGorg's 1st grade biology lab experiment. Maybe this is why vast portions of humanity's history has and continues to suck. If we chose to have faith in a perfect, eternal, omniscient, and omnipotent God, then we have real problems!
Can an omnipotent god make a burrito so hot even He can't eat it? But seriously, in Judeo-Christian-Muslim type religions we are asked to believe that God, who knew an eternity before creating us exactly what would happen after he created us, namely, that we would screw things up, will punish the wicked and reward the good. Given his omniscience, I say the wicked were condemned an eternity before they ever saw the light of day—this falls under predetermination. I say the supposedly perfect creator is the screw up. How dare he punish (typically by roasting the wicked in hell) a single human being, and demand from the rest of us that we worship Him lest we suffer the same fate as the wicked? Doesn't the buck stop with HIM? If so, then he is the perfect masochist. How am I supposed to reconcile a perfect creator with an imperfect system that is predetermined by His omniscience? And why would a perfect, omnipotent, omniscient, eternal being need the worship of lowly humans? To satisfy an infinitely weak ego? In fact, a perfect, omniscient, omnipotent, eternal being is a dead lump of nothing that would have zero motivation for doing anything. Create, or do anything—but what for? He knows the outcome, hence He would have zero motivation. Someone, countering this line, once asked me, why should I procreate? You know what the kid will do he stated, e.g., breath, drink water, learn to read, etc. Because I am not perfect, eternal, omnipotent nor omniscient. I don't know whether my kid will become a mass murderer or land on Mars. His/her world will constantly change. Science will reveal whole new domains for exploration. Lacking omniscience allows for the possibility, if not the guarantee of motivation.
I know that some of you who read these arguments for dropping God will cite the "father analogy" when I will point out the misery of the human condition. When you were a kid, they will say to me, and your father denied you ice cream as a punishment, he was doing it for your own good, to protect you, to teach a lesson, etc. As a child, you could not have understood his logic, and you probably thought he was a bad guy. He is our Father and we are His children. My father was not a perfect, omniscient, omnipotent, eternal being. God, supposedly, is. This is a fundamental distinction people never seem to realize. And, counter to those who, using the "father analogy", claim we are too pea-brained to understand God, I claim that we humans are sufficiently intelligent to question God along the lines in the paragraph above. If you are perfect, eternal, omnipotent and omniscient, then why X, Y and Z? I'm not arrogantly claiming to understand this kind of God's mastery of science and mathematics. I'm asking basic questions and pointing out self-evident contradictions. Finally, if I'm too pea-brained to ask God questions, wouldn't I be too pea-brained to worship Him? I wouldn't have the sufficient brain power to worship HIM properly.
Another defensive tact on behalf of religion goes along the lines, without bad you can't have good, that's why we have bad in God's world, so that we learn and appreciate things. What good comes of genocide? What lesson did the annihilated peoples, the children, mothers and fathers, learn? What benefit is conferred when a five year old dies of cancer? God had to create a child to teach his parents a lesson? To pay for an oncologist's shiny sports car? Or God, the omnipotent, as some say, needed the kid's help in heaven? Really. The variations of the illogical contradictions of an omnipotent, eternal, perfect, omniscient god of love are countless.
5. Why religion and faith in God should die
5.1—-Religion should die because of bullets 2 thru 3, and faith in God should die because of bullet number 4.
6. Does killing religion and God save humanity?
6.1—-An a-religious humanity following a doubt-based morality is not guaranteed survival. A big-ass comet may squash us like the bugs we are. We, because we are innately competitive, and have difficulties with basic morality (e.g., we kill, steal, cheat) may yet treat ourselves to nuclear winter or death by advanced viral weapons. Yet, given that the scientific method based morality can be equated with DOUBT and that religious practice can be equated with NO DOUBT, it seems reasonable to believe an a-religious world would be a bit more stable than a religious world. A herd mentality requires a threshold number of initiators, if there are less initiators there is a reduced likelihood to "herd."
7. Is science Lily-white?
7.1—-Since I seem to be advocating scientific morality over religious morality, I'm sure people will point out the dark ways of science. Are there and have there been evil scientists? Yes. Are there and have there been arrogant scientists? Yes. Have (and do) some scientists get tempted to play God? Yes. Are there and have there been evil priests? Yes. Are there and have there been arrogant popes? Yes. Have (and do) some people of religious faith get tempted to play God? Yes. These points, picking out individuals from a population, are not THE POINT. What is more dangerous? A crowd of religious faithful driven by NO DOUBT, or a crowd of a-religious people driven by DOUBT? Which will "herd" first and bash your brains in for being a heathen/non-heathen? Scientists do not make the scientific method any more than religious leaders make up religion practice.
Does science bring us evil? A-bombs? H-bombs? Hey, when was the last time we had a full-blown world war? And how many American and Japanese lives were saved by using Fat Man and Little Boy? Or was President Truman an agent of Satan set out to deliver the handiwork of demonic scientists? Fifty-nine A-bomb scientists signed a petition to President Truman asking him to instead demonstrate the bomb's power to the Japanese on a remote island.
Can science destroy the world? Maybe some nasty bug will escape from some lab and we'll have to kiss our collective asses good-bye. However we, humanity, can also do the job quite nicely as well. Do we non-scientists drive economical cars? NO WAY! We want our bigger LAND ROVING SUV penises. We waste and pollute. Good-bye rainforests hello farting hamburgers! We don't push for more reasonable uses or our resources, until, that is, it hits us in our pocket books. If we're going to make it, it's going to take all of us. See my article on "Some thoughts concerning law…in a post-Darwinian world of conflict, crime, social inequality,... at:
8. Improving our chances.
8.1—-I say that if we want to improve the lot of humanity, religion must die. Some can point to all the humanitarian good religion has done and continues to do. Though I can't prove it, I suspect the net harm done in the name of religion far outweighs the net good it has done. A body count of saved versus killed off in the name of God could be one metric among others. But how would you count those who died of cancer because decades worth of charity and time has gone to building opulent churches, popes, etc. over basic research?
8.2—-But modern religion is truly enlightened and tolerant.
Some might argue that modern religions are now more enlightened. Which religions? Those practiced in Bosnia? Africa? Iraq? Or by our own homophobic, segregating, discrediting president? Did President Bush conclude the American constitution needs to be modified via an intellectual path, or out of religious conviction, tantamount to NO DOUBT? I saw him claim on TV that the base of great civilizations have been the union of man and woman. America's government is modeled after Greek and Roman states. Does President Bush not know that those toga wearing peoples had no problem with homosexuality? Does President Bush not know that around 10% of humanity is genetically predisposed to homosexuality? No. He has NO (God given) DOUBT that homosexuals, as "aberrant", do not deserve the same legal rights as heterosexuals. Religion, even today in an "enlightened" western power, is just as vile as it ever was, and still preaching holy war. Didn't President Bush state it is America's duty to spread freedom, which is God's gift to humanity?
9. Putting logic aside, can religion ever be expected to die.
9.1—-Religion will die? Eventually. Though, should humanity survive to evolve into post-corporeal beings, I do believe religion will die, I don't expect it to do so in the near future. Not until humanity—should it survive—has transformed itself into beings with indefinitely long lives will the need for religion die. So long as we live but a handful of years, the need for religion and faith in God will continue to exist. Moreover, there really could be a "god gene" (which we will drop when we drop our carbon-based bodies). According to Dean H. Hamer, the "god gene" could be a real, built-in engine driving Homo sapiens sapiens religiosity. See the book review below summarizing Hamer's ideas.
10. A call for atheist preaching.
In the mean time, given that religion will be with us for some time to come, we godless people must accept and tolerate those religious people among us as they accept and tolerate us—and I'm not being funny. Throughout large chunks of the world, atheists and the faithful live their lives in peace. Moreover, just as religious people have a need and a duty to save heathens so that all may enjoy paradise, we godless people too must do our best to "unsave" people so that we may all enjoy a more real (Occam's razor based) reality in a more stable world. We have to preach unGod on unSaving logically, as I have tried to do in this post.
PS—Wouldn't it be nice if religion came with a warning sign listing off all its
completely illogical foundations and inconsistencies, and its innate tendency to do harm thanks to NO DOUBT morals. People—before we evolve into more advanced beings—could then decide to believe or not on a more informed basis despite their potential "god genes." Science, with its scientific method, does this by definition.
HAMER'S BOOK REVIEW
REVIEW: From Publishers Weekly
This book's title is more rhetorical effect than factual accuracy: Hamer, who discovered the controversial "gay gene" in the 1990s, reports that he has now found a gene that may correlate in some people with their level of spirituality—not with belief in a being we would call God or with the performance of traditional religious practices, but with what psychiatrist Robert Cloninger called "self-transcendence." This trait is a capacity to feel at one with all life and with the universe as a whole, and Cloninger measured it with
personality testing. The so-called "God gene" is a particular location in the human genome known as VMAT2, which affects the brain's neurotransmitters. Hamer admits that the gene probably accounts for less than 1% of the total variance in human spirituality. The book's later chapters become still more speculative, as Hamer, a molecular biologist at the National Cancer Institute, considers the scanty evidence of health benefits of spirituality, which would make faith an adaptive evolutionary trait. Hamer emphasizes that the existence of a "God gene" would neither prove nor disprove the reality of God. However, this gracefully written book may intrigue people of all
faiths—or no faith—who wonder about the ultimate connection between science and religion.
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