I am an atheist, have been since my teen years. I am not a profound thinker, but I have some opinions based on my life’s experiences, education, and curiosity. I have been and will continue to be an avid reader of articles, books and blogs by both those who believe, and those who don’t.
The current debate creates a religious dilemma, don’t you think? Who is right? All kinds of what–if scenarios present themselves. There are fundamentalists, new atheists, apologists, agnostics, not to mention a myriad of religious world views and philosophies that encompass both gods and no gods, spiritual direction and scientific explanation.
Here is what I wrote to a recent post by Godless Girl:
‘ too lazy and allow themselves to be ‘spoon fed’ by an institution ‘ — passing judgement and withdrawing respect is unjustified when you don’t have all the answers; Miss Green does seem elitist and intolerant, the very thing religion is accused and is guilty of as well. I’ve always thought there is a fine line between intolerance and the vigilance to insure that religious belief/practice remains outside the public sphere. You can’t have a democracy otherwise.
‘ nothing to contribute ‘ — if you explore the history of religious practice and the good parts of its contribution to humanity, and its ongoing participation, you’ll discover a less clear-cut story. For example, many women in medieval times entered nunneries and took vows to avoid sexism, rape and exploitation. An abby represented a place of shelter, not repression.
Outside the attention and publicity surrounding fundamentalism, there is quite a different group of people involved with their churches who are not ‘lazy’, are well read and aware of alternate world views. They do not expect a sky fairy to rescue them deux ex machina, they don’t believe the bible literally, i.e. miracles, resurrections, or intelligent creationism, etc., and have no desire to impose themselves or their beliefs on others.
As far as the horror, institutions of all kinds, not exclusively religious ones, are guilty of tremendous atrocities. I believe it is fair to say that it is man’s potential to choose to do harm that frames or governs the institution, no matter religious, government, military, educational… the human capacity for depravity is a difficult concept to confront and explore, one that doesn’t go away if one rejects religion.
I have discovered that religious practice seems to have been part of social infrastructure as far back as we can look with our modern technology. For example, the very ancient city, Catal Hoyuk ( http://http://www.catalhoyuk.com/ ) in modern Turkey, paganism, or the commonality of lore such as flood stories (creationism) offer support that as Voltaire said, ‘ if god did not exist, man would invent him’.
Food for thought, perhaps religion serves more purpose than just a lazy man’s way of answering universal questions or providing codes of conduct or social infrastructure. We do that anyway, so why do we still invent religions?
I am an atheist, but I am also fascinated by what drives us to extend our lives into the imaginative as a source of direction, answers and social comfort, how it has and no doubt will continue to impact our lives, and where/how we cross the line between the fanciful and the concrete when searching for answers. I haven’t figured it out yet.
And here is a recent post which argues quite differently than Godless Girl. It’s from one of my favourite bloggers: http://rjosephhoffmann.wordpress.com/2011/11/26/atheisms-little-idea-2/
I am not convinced that it matters who is right and who is wrong. I think we all strive in our own ways to be good people, to do right by family, friends, community. I do not care what my neighbour believes or how he practices his beliefs. But I do care if he harms others, and I care (as I mentioned above) when he decides to impose his beliefs on me/others, penalizes me/others in some way for not practicing his beliefs, or uses his beliefs to undermine democracy.
- On Godless Theology (resnikoff.wordpress.com)
- The good god guide | The Economist (policyabcs.wordpress.com)
- Is the Issue Religion vs. Atheism? (naturalspirituality.wordpress.com)
- The articles of 21st-century faith | Julian Baggini (guardian.co.uk)