Tuesday, October 5, 2010

To Question God by Steve of AvC

Theists all too often claim that atheists and freethinkers are driven by some innate and mindless hatred of religion, and revel in the collective denigration of peoples’ superstitious beliefs.  Still others believe that some traumatic psychological event, lurking in the basement of the atheist subconscious turned them away from a belief in religion.  And a few clutch at the idea that atheists reject god simply because they are afraid – of what I cannot imagine. Without question some atheists can be extremely confrontational and intolerant and I have been there myself.  However, I don't believe it is a question of hate or derision.  It is more an overwhelming sense of frustration from constantly being pummeled by the most inane and fatuous arguments that attempt to support a wholly untenable position.

Here we are at the close of the first decade of the 21st century and it is truly breathtaking – perhaps mind boggling would be a better word - the number of people who embrace a misogynistic, death-religion from over 2 millennia ago. Despite an overwhelming and ever-growing mountain of scientific research and evidence, millions still desperately cling to the fantasies concocted by desert nomads and embellished by religious zealots and power-hunger political despots.

If there is some semblance of fear, then it is fear of the escalating anti-scientific mindset and the raucous demand by all too many to embrace a theocracy that answers not to the law but to some imaginary deity.  The fear that reason will be continually kicked to the road side to accommodate the cacophonous hoards of religious camp followers who flaunt their supposed piety in the face of rational thought and believe it is better to burn a book than to actually read it.  And if that doesn't quash the voices of dissent then burn the author.  In part, there is the fear of an ever-diminishing sphere of rational discourse and logic in favor of close-minded religious cant and intolerance.

Science and reason have always illuminated the trail through ignorance and as such will always remain the mortal enemy of superstition, and hence religion.  The mystics profess knowledge they cannot possibly possess, and embolden their position and socio-political power base with endless doom-sayings of Armageddon, eternal damnation and hell fire.

For me, personally, that is what I find most distasteful of religion -the arrogant claim of divine revelation which can never be substantiated coupled with the threat of eternal destruction if even the most outlandish claim is remotely questioned.  Of course, it is always beneficial to the religious ring leaders if they can enlist the cooperation of the secular leadership. They can back up their spiritual demands of unquestioned obedience, and the incessant harangue of damnation and self- denigration with the imprimatur of the rack, the branding iron and the thumb screw.

As for a denial of god...well he has done that himself - so to speak. With each step away from superstitious ignorance the evidence for god dwindles.  Disease is not divine retribution; the universe despite its vastness is ultimately knowable.  The secrets of nature that once terrified our ancestors are taught in grade school textbooks. A high school student of today, having completed a basic First Aid or EMT course possess more legitimate medical knowledge than all the doctors combined of the great 15th century universities of Europe.  We can look up into the night sky with electronic eyes and glimpse the beginnings of the cosmos.  We peer into the shadows and find there is only the absence of light, not demons. It is the absolutist rejection of reason, science and the hard won gains of the unfettered human intellect that is most disturbing. 

Benjamin Franking once stated that ..."To see by faith is to shut the eyes of reason". 

And I could not agree more.

Steve in Virginia

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