The Real Danger of Religion

I try very hard to be an understanding and compassionate person. I believe that seeing things from other peoples’ perspectives is the key to living harmoniously in a world of conflicting viewpoints. So, as an atheist, I strive to co-exist with people of religious faith (theists). I’ve said before that the ‘goodness’ of a person is based entirely on the actions of the individual and that it’s unfair to judge a whole group based on the actions of one extremist. As an example; I don’t believe that all Christians are like the Westboro Baptist Church, whose hateful protests are generally regarded as immoral.

Having said this, I do believe that religion, as a mechanism, poses a threat to humanity. Before I go on, however, I do want to acknowledge that there are good aspects to religion. Particularly, the humanitarian efforts and the comfort it provides in regards to death. This is not a blanket anti-religion article. Rather, it’s going to focus on a very specific part. This faulty cog, however, runs the risk of bringing down the whole machine.

Religion protects mentally unstable ways of thinking.

By this, I don’t mean that anyone who believes in god is crazy. In fact, I would say that average theists are well adjusted individuals. Rather, I’m thinking of people who take things to the extreme. If a man is standing on the street outside your house, shouting about aliens invading his brain, your first inclination would probably be to call the cops. You would think that he isn’t in his right mind and, because he could be a danger, should have some kind of special help. What this crazy guy on your street is yelling about can vary from subject to subject. Maybe it’s bigfoot or a chip that the government put in his brain. But, the point is that there are certain ‘crazy’ things that he could say that would make you worried for the safety of your family.

Now, imagine that this same man is shouting about the Lord Jesus Christ and how we must believe he died for our sins in order to save our souls. A few of us might still call the cops (because he’s standing in our street) but I do believe there is a general reduction in the perception of danger. One might think, 'oh he’s just one of those really religious guys', as opposed to ‘man that guy is crazy’. Religion, and it’s mode of thinking, has become ‘normal’ in the modern world. We see someone wearing a cross necklace, or reading the bible and we don’t think anything of it. And, while nine times out of ten, those people are completely harmless, what about the tenth guy shouting in the street? Is he also harmless? Or do we just perceive him as harmless because we’ve come to accept this specific brand of ranting? I said above that all religious people can’t be judged by the actions of the extremists, but does religion protect these extremists? Does it give them an environment where they are sheltered from help until it’s too late?

Faith bleeds into things where it doesn’t belong.

I think all of us are familiar with political crazies. Two completely sensible people (a liberal and a conservative) might debate the importance of budget cuts in one corner, while a third on the other side of the room screams about how the president is secretly a Muslim terrorist. It’s true that powerful outlets work very hard to spread false information and smear campaigns, but there are many people who still believe a lie after it is debunked. When asked why, they tend to answer that it’s a feeling in their gut. I would also argue that most, if not all, of these political extremists are religious in some fashion. The reason is because these people are taught, by religion, that believing something based on faith, rather than evidence, is an entirely valid way to run one’s life.

Since religion is handled delicately in modern culture, whether it’s on television or in person, a certain amount of weight has been given to the ‘faith’ side of the philosophical debate. In other words, by saying that belief without evidence is okay, certain individuals use it to believe other things, completely unrelated to religion. Such as; the president is a Muslim terrorist. When we base things, other than religion, on faith, the fabric of civilized society starts to come undone. If the only basis for truth is a ‘gut feeling’, then an overwhelming amount of different ‘truths’ decay the concept until nothing is true. And, with enough momentum, wars could be waged on what was believed to happen, rather than what actually did. It’s the same reason we don’t jump off a cliff without a parachute. Sensible people know that gravity will drop you to the bottom, where the impact will kill you. But, if everyone starts believing gravity is a conspiracy by scientists and we must faithfully leap over the edge, then reality devolves into paranoid violence.

Banning atheists from holding public office is just one modern way of crushing the non-believers.
Banning atheists from holding public office is just one modern way of crushing the non-believers.

This road leads to ‘crushing’ the nonbelievers.

My biggest fear, as an atheist, is that I’ll come in contact with one of the religious extremists and they’ll put a bullet in my chest, just because I don’t believe in god. I don’t know if that’s an irrational fear or not, but having seen the lengths to which religious extremists go, I don’t think it’s entirely unwarranted. However, a direct assault isn’t the only way in which the religious might try to defeat the nonbelievers.

I mentioned politics above because it seems to be hopelessly tied to religion. Atheist candidates are completely untrustworthy, or barred from running, and religious legislation tries, every day, to make its way into law. The reasoning behind each of these religious laws, whether it’s about gay marriage, abortion or something else, varies from case to case, but the end result is the same. A law in the United Sates is conceived and implemented based on a religious belief. Other than the fact that the U.S. has a separation of church and state built into its foundation, this represents religious efforts to force nonbelievers into a very specific way of living. A theist might respond that, by allowing gay marriage and abortion, it forces the religious to live by the laws of the non-religious. However, the difference is that a person who doesn’t approve of those things can continue to disapprove of them and (in those specific cases) not participate in them. Where as a nonbeliever is forced to participate in a law that restricts one action or another.

Kind of small, but the quotes exists elsewhere online.
Kind of small, but the quotes exists elsewhere online. | Source

The way we think affects the way we act.

There is a quote from the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham, regarding creationism, wherein the question was asked what it would take to change each of their minds on the subject. I’m paraphrasing, but in essence Bill Nye (the scientist) said that evidence would change his mind. Ken Ham (the theist) said that nothing would change his mind. What I find interesting about this is that Bill Nye is not ruling out god, he is merely suggesting that evidence doesn’t support him. Should evidence of god materialize, he would believe. On the opposite side, Ken Ham suggests that, even if god were definitively disproven, he still wouldn’t believe it. Never mind that god will probably never be proven one way or another, what strikes me is the vastly different ways of thinking between these two men. The life of a human is constantly fraught with changes, decisions and critical thinking. Sometimes we make decisions that, in retrospect, we agonize over for years. But, the human experience is based on learning. As children we learn to walk, talk, feed ourselves and go to the bathroom, among other things. We adapt to the ever changing world around us until we no longer need the help of our parents. This adaptation, however, never stops. Closing one’s mind to other possibilities can be damaging for the individual and dangerous when applied to a group. We cannot assign rigid ways of thinking to a dynamic world.

Richard Dawkins once said “I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.” Religion isn’t necessarily a problem because of what it preaches, but rather, what it inhibits. Whether it’s protecting those with mental illnesses, bleeding faith into the wrong parts of life, or legislating the non-believers into submission. In order to move forward, humans need to universally acknowledge the weight of reality. Customs, outreach and comfort can all remain at the core of religion, but if we continue to turn a blind eye to the outlandish and dangerous pieces of it, then we are all guilty of its repercussions.

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Comments 73 comments

ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 2 years ago from Midwest

So many good points I don't know where to start, but the point that really struck me the most and one that I've tried to explain to those in my circle of family and friends who are deeply religious and opposed to gay marriage etc. is the point you made. Theists can simply not engage in the activities they find objectionable, but legislating their version of morality essentially treads on everyone and there are plenty of good, decent people who do not subscribe to that version of morality.

Like you, I believe most people of faith are reasonable at their core, but yes, it is indeed dangerous to allow matters of faith to trump logic and reason - Climate change comes to mind. Many religious people believe "God" will fix it etc. Dangerous thinking or cognitive dissonance or whatever you choose to call it.

Excellent hub with many valid points - expressed in a very thoughtful way. Voted up and passed along.


JMcFarland profile image

JMcFarland 2 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

I really enjoyed this hub, MT. You raised a lot of valid points, mirroring my own repeated statements on the subject. As an atheist, I do get fired up about the non-separation of church and state, and I get EXTREMELY angry about the Good News Club mandating an infiltration of public schools, teaching kids as young as 6 that if they don't give their "dark hearts" to Jesus, they (and all of their friends) will go to hell. I think there is a lot of danger out there in the guise of religion, and as a secular humanist as an atheist, I think it's imperative to bring these dangers to light wherever possible. Voted up.


cathylynn99 profile image

cathylynn99 2 years ago from northeastern US

I agree with the main thrust of this article, but think the danger of accepting someone who has mental illness just because they are spouting god gibberish is minimal. much more important are the tendency to believe the unproven and having my rights legislatively taken away because of someone else's religion.


lone77star profile image

lone77star 2 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

MT, a lot of well-reasoned logic, here. Nicely done. But I think it's skewed a bit, partly because of missing information.

I hold true the idea that religion is never the problem, but there are many religions which are full of problems. I think you skirted around the real issue -- the "us versus them" attitude. And if you dig beneath the surface of this, you see a more pervasive enemy -- ego, the heart of selfishness of all kinds.

As a scientist, I believe in evidence. As someone who has witnessed dozens of miracles, I also know the power of faith (spiritual confidence). Evidence only gets in the way when spirit is concerned. It's like an infant learning to walk. If they put too much attention on staying safe, watching every muscle and the like, they'll never walk. Sooner or later, the infant has to step out and just do it. When they're walking, evidence no longer matters; it's a done deal. The person who says, "I won't be able to walk, because I can't walk now," is doomed before they start. They're relying on proof, but proof won't come so long as they are relying on it to allow them to walk.

Many politicians profess to be religious, but are psychopathic murderers, starting wars based on lies like WMDs in Iraq.

Many people in America are against Muslims, because of 9/11, but it wasn't Muslims. The patsies were on a short leash, protect by the FBI. Some of those who were said to be among the 19 were interviewed after 9/11, so they didn't die as suicide perpetrators. And the perfect free fall of WTC7 shows that controlled demolition was used on 9/11, because steel never, ever offers zero resistance no matter how many government scientists commit fraud by saying that it is possible.

Richard Dawkins seems to be a smart man, but he is too ignorant of religion to speak intelligently. Bayha ben Joseph Ibn Paquda, an eleventh-century judge in the rabbinical court at Saragossa [Caesar Augusta], Spain, once wrote, "Bliss ungrounded in physical reality is not bliss but delusion." Just because some ignore reality does not mean that all religious believers do.

Too many injustices are being done in the name of National Security, these days, including the harassment and arrest of preachers. The same is happening to people who defend the Constitution of America. If you only watch mainstream media news, you'll never have the evidence of such things. They have shareholders to defend and some news is unpopular with the psychopathic elite -- you know the ones: like those who ruined the world economy in 2008, didn't go to jail, didn't lose their jobs, asked for nearly a $Trillion in bailouts, and got it.

Don't be afraid of a religious nut shooting you. More than likely they work for the same agency who sponsored all of the "lone nut" gunmen of the last 60 years. On his deathbed, E. Howard Hunt confessed, to his son, his part in the government murder of its own president, JFK. Innocents are being targeted by the government to sell the "scare" that the 2nd Amendment is our problem. Ego is the problem, and the psychopaths who pull Washington's strings are playing our egos like a symphony -- those of us who react to the fearmongering.

My suggestion -- wake up. Stop being a victim.

Religion is never the danger. Neither is government. Ego is the danger. Love and humility are the key.


Nadine May profile image

Nadine May 2 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

Yes you mention many good points. I like this statement: “I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.” Many people on who will cling to beliefs, join cults or use organized religion like a boat as an anchor are readers on the 2nd consciousness level and would not be drawn to my topics.


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 2 years ago from United States Author

ChristinS - Climate change is a good example of faith in politics. I don't know if I heard it from a quote or not, but there was some saying that said people will make any excuse if it means they can continue their bad habits. So, pollution doesn't cause climate change, fast food doesn't make us fat and smoking doesn't give us lung cancer. While justifying bad habits is separate from religion, faith still gives them a valid reason for doing so. Thanks for the comment!

JMcFarland - I agree, prayer/religion in schools has become an unusual scapegoat for all the problems with education and shootings. While it's true that the 'fear of god' was an effective disciplining strategy, that doesn't mean it's the right strategy. Thanks for the comment!

cathylynn99 - My example was a bit of an exaggeration, however I was thinking of a very specific person while I was writing it. Obviously I won't name names, but I happened upon an email written by this person wherein they implied they were preparing for a war against the non-believers. Yet, on the outside they seemed harmless. While there may not be a large amount of cases for people like that, it only takes one, sheltered by religion, to cause a massacre. Which is why I put as much emphasis on it as I did, in this article. Thanks for the comment!

lone77star - I agree that ego is one of the most damaging things humanity has to contend with. Certainly dictators are driven more by ego than anything else. They believe their cause is just, but it's their ego that pushes them to commit atrocities in its name. But, as the article said, I was referring to religion as a mechanism, not necessarily trying to assign blame to believers. And, while the political realm has its own problems, I meant only to focus on faith as a faulty basis for political decisions. The child doesn't walk because of faith, he walks because he has visual evidence that walking is possible. Political decisions must similarly be made based on what is real. Corruption is a different issue entirely, though the argument could be made that corruption is possible because faith-based governing exists. In other words, it wouldn't be so easy to deceive the public if they valued facts over faith. Thanks for the comment!

Nadine May - There is definitely a fine line between religion and cults, one often drawn by acts of violence. Though age is also a factor. The older a religion is, the more weight we give it in modern society. Thanks for the comment!


jlpark profile image

jlpark 2 years ago from New Zealand

Interesting, well thought out article. Thought provoking as well. I will give you a more thorough comment when I have had a chance to take it all in. Thanks for writing!


Oztinato profile image

Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

I like the way people who criticize theists have no criticism at all for atheists. I am constantly amazed that not one online atheist ( as yet) has ever tried to criticize the highly influential professor of Ethics Peter Singer and his close friend Dawkins regarding the enormous efforts they are pitting into legalizing "after birth abortion"(infanticide) and beastality. Please don't feign ignorance.

The potential of unleashing new diseases on humanity by pushing for "Zoophilia" has the potential to do more damage in a few decades than all the mistakes of religion put together for the past 10,000 years.


cathylynn99 profile image

cathylynn99 2 years ago from northeastern US

infanticide and bestiality? I follow dawkins on twitter. nary a tweet pro either one. someone lives in la la land.


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 2 years ago from United States Author

jlpark - Thank you for the comment!

Oztinato - This article isn't a critique of atheists, it's a critique of religion. One in which I took great care to specify that the dangerous aspects of religion do not apply to everyone who is religious. Suggesting that atheists are putting forth 'enormous efforts' to bring about infanticide and bestiality is an attempt to demonize atheists as villains. This is exactly the type of propaganda that makes religion dangerous. Get enough theists to believe atheists are baby killers and suddenly you have a movement to destroy the non-believers. We are not your enemy.

cathylynn99 - I assume that any pro-choice support equals infanticide and perhaps support of gay marriage is that slippery slope to bestiality. It's a shame that progressive and/or liberal viewpoints are twisted into such vile hate campaigns.


Oztinato profile image

Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

Let me put it this way: if the majority of atheists are not vigorously opposing such things they are ratifying them.

It seems to me the "real danger of religion" is that it opposes atheism.

Religion has produced all the planet's culture, art, philosophy, science, etc for more than the last 10,000 years. To not give it any credit is a type of bigotry.


cathylynn99 profile image

cathylynn99 2 years ago from northeastern US

there are tons of things I don't go out of my way to oppose, but do not agree with - eating red meat, for instance. I'm sure you have such things, too, ostinato, things that you don't even know about. it doesn't mean you concur. you are holding atheists to an impossible standard. penn Gillette is an atheist libertarian. I hate libertarianism. because we are both atheists, doesn't mean we believe the same things. kind of ridiculous to think we do.


cathylynn99 profile image

cathylynn99 2 years ago from northeastern US

I also don't oppose religion in my friends, though I consider it silly at best. religion also brought us the crusades, the inquisition, and a justification for slavery.


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 2 years ago from United States Author

Oztinato - A lack of vigorous opposition does not equal ratification. I disapprove of murder, but I don't have what it takes to be a police officer or a detective. All I can do is not murder people. If a situation presents itself where I can help a cause I believe in, I will. But trying to vigorously oppose everything I disapprove of, would stretch anyone too thin. Particularly when the demonization of atheists is complete fiction. Are some atheists jerks? Yes. As a group, are we working towards baby killing and bestiality? No.

And it is over-reaching to imply that religion is responsible for all of the planet's culture, art, philosophy and science. Religion is one part of the human experience, it is not the whole. I would never deny that religion has contributed enormously to our history, but my stance is that we've outgrown it and what remains is dangerous. Not because it opposes atheism, but because of all the reasons I outlined in this article.


Oztinato profile image

Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

History concurs that religion was responsible for ALL cultural advances until quite recently.

No impartial observer can say that if "good people stand by and do nothing" everything will be fine.

Unless atheism as a movement can replace the conscience with an alternative we are going to see a huge boom in inhumane attitudes. The exact argument that the Dawkins class of atheists use is to forget about the inner conscience (as it is a by product of religion) and turn to a wishy washy pretend "empathy" which can be turned easily to any idea one chooses. Fortunately we have laws which mock this wishy washy notion. Laws which also firmly evolved out of religion.

If we choose to recall the 1% of errors of all relgions in the past and ignore the 99% achievments we are being unscientific and possibly bigoted.


cathylynn99 profile image

cathylynn99 2 years ago from northeastern US

people have a conscience because they realize others are like them and would be hurt by similar things. religion has nothing to do with it.


Oztinato profile image

Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

You can't try to vacuum away 10,000 years plus of religions crucial role in the development of humanity with coffee club glib statements.

I mean you can Try to do that, but no serious analysis is going to support you.

People need LOTS of laws to behave; laws that slowly evolved out of religion for many thousands of years.

Look at the GFC: did the empathy of the business world "feel" for anyone? No, they grabbed whatever they could and conscience be damned.


cathylynn99 profile image

cathylynn99 2 years ago from northeastern US

I need zero laws to tell me how to behave. I don't hurt people because I care about them. I feel sorry for you if you need laws - makes me wonder about your morality. there will always be some sociopaths who take advantage of others. they tend to be attracted to the financial industry.


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 2 years ago from United States Author

Again, I don't think anyone is denying the contribution religion has made to modern society, but it is not our first source of morality, nor is it our source of law. Both religion and law are born out of a need to survive. That which does us harm is evil and that which makes us stronger is good. These are fundamental survival mechanisms built into the human species. We've just found very complex ways of explaining them.

Religion is a stepping stone. There was art and culture before it and there will be art and culture after it. The same is true of morality and law. If religion were the source of these things then all atheists would be murderers and the people that came before religion wouldn't have survived long enough to reach a point where religion could take root.

And, there is no reason why we can't take the good aspects of religion into the future (like humanitarian efforts), but there is no reason to take the outdated and dangerous aspects with them.


Oztinato profile image

Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

A person who doesn't believe in laws is an anarchist: anarchy has a terrible and short history (see wiki). In short, anarchy doesn't work.


cathylynn99 profile image

cathylynn99 2 years ago from northeastern US

straw man - I believe in laws. I just don't need them to behave in accordance to the golden rule.


Oztinato profile image

Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

Cathy

that makes you a unique saint in all of humanity!


cathylynn99 profile image

cathylynn99 2 years ago from northeastern US

there are no laws keeping me from disciplining children by hitting. yet I don't hit kids because I know it will make them more likely to be angry and anxious and delinquent and to grow up to be obese and have heart attacks and arthritis. laws aren't the be-all and end-all.

there is no law that I have to donate to causes that help hungry children. I still do it, and so do many other people. it's a universal understanding of the golden rule.


Oztinato profile image

Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

There are thousands of laws out there about millions of situations.

Where I live there are laws about hitting children too.


cathylynn99 profile image

cathylynn99 2 years ago from northeastern US

laws are not the whole story. everything hitler did to jews was legal. schindler saving jews was illegal.


Oztinato profile image

Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

Laws are not the whole answer and hypocrites can use and abuse laws and turn them into weapons just like anything else can be turned into a weapon. Without "real" law we would be in anarchy.

In fact during Hitler's reign there were no proper legal processes and things were usually done "in secret" with top secret military orders.

Hideous abuses of law, or abuses of theism, or abuses of atheism don't actually qualify as law: they qualify as hypocrisy and tyranny.


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

Correct me if I'm wrong but weren't Danton, Lenin, Sanger, Than Shwe, Stalin, Mengele, Mao, Kim Il Sung, Ceausescu, Honecker, Castro, Pol Pot, Broz Tito and Milosevic oppressive, sadistic, democidal atheists who, collectively, murdered ***hundreds of millions*** of helpless men, women and little children?


JMcFarland profile image

JMcFarland 2 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

the atheist atrocity fallacy. How nice. You realize that saying that some totalitarian dictators happened to be atheists, and that is what caused them to be totalitarian dictators is just as silly as saying that Hitler and Stalin both had mustaches, and their mustaches caused them to be real jerks. It's also the appeal to hypocrisy - if I point out horrible things that people of other beliefs (or no beliefs) did, it somehow minimizes what people who shared my beliefs did. Regardless of religion or non-religion, etc. some people are just mean, power-hungry people that are bent on destroying others who stand in their way. Maybe the thing all these people had in common was that they were men - maybe that's the thing that caused them to be jerks. It sounds silly when put that way, doesn't it? It's just as silly as the way you put it, actually.


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

@JM

“It was Dostoevsky, once again, who drew from the French Revolution and its seeming hatred of the Church the lesson that "revolution must necessarily begin with atheism." That is absolutely true. But the world had never before known a godlessness as organized, militarized, and tenaciously malevolent as that practiced by Marxism.

Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin, and at the heart of their psychology, hatred of God is the principal driving force, more fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions. Militant atheism is not merely incidental or marginal to Communist policy; it is not a side effect, but the central pivot.”

― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn


Oztinato profile image

Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

Joseph

of course you are right.

Many atheists deliberately choose to forget we are talking about TODAY: they often hark back to early abuses by cliques of corrupt churchmen that occurred even thousands of years ago to justify cherry picked facts.


JMcFarland profile image

JMcFarland 2 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

Quoting things hardly proves your case, when your argument is indeed fallacious. How many totalitarian dictators have been religious? Is it the religion then, that is to blame for their atrocities? Or are you going to employ "no true Scotsman" to excuse away their actions, and try to distance your beliefs from theirs? Communism sets the state up as a god, and demands worship - similar to what many other gods do in a divine personage. Cherry Picking history like that hardly works in your favor, since the same can be done against your case in reverse. Technology is the only thing that allowed those men to kill more people at a time. Had the technology been available throughout a lot of Church history, it's entirely probable that even more people would have died as a result of it.


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

Thanks Oztinato! :)


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

@JM

You’ve trivially transformed each and every spiritual faith into a demon then simply slayed these with your hollow rhetoric. Your particular contention is not with all spiritual beliefs but false religious beliefs. Christ’s teachings have continually been - and are still - absolutely nothing less than a marvelous blessing for everyone ( http://bit.ly/14G3fPF ). Why , then, do you dump the proverbial baby out with the bathwater?


Oztinato profile image

Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

Hi JMcF

I hope we can continue to be friends and get to the bottom of this. I feel a strange attraction to you.

Try to focus on the current situation. This will reduce cherry picking from history.

My apologies for not talking too much: I have a busy and successful freelance art career. If my piano gigs start up I may not post for some time.


JMcFarland profile image

JMcFarland 2 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

But that's the thing, Joseph. It's really easy to say that all religious beliefs are false - except yours. The problem is that EVERYONE says it, and there's no reason whatsoever to believe you over anyone else. None. Aren't you a jehovah's witness of some form?

Oz, we were never friends, you're not welcome to comment on any of my hubs as it will be promptly deleted, and since you are here, I'm leaving.


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 2 years ago from United States Author

Any belief system can be abused. The reason some picked atheism is because they were trying to establish their authority over everything else. In other words, you can't be a supreme leader if your population believes god is the highest power in the land. In this instance atheism is being used as a tool of the insane and the evil, which is considerably different than your average college student who stops believing in god.

I would argue that, for the majority of atheists 'hatred of god' has no driving force in their decision. Christian's don't hate Zeus or Odin because they don't believe in them. It's the same concept. If someone hated god, they would still be a theist.

You say that JMcFarland's "particular contention is not with all spiritual beliefs but false religious beliefs." So, if the atrocities committed in the name of Christianity were not representative of Jesus's intent, then how can you think the actions of atheist dictators are representative of true atheistic beliefs?

Painting atheism as a source of extreme evil oversimplifies complex subjects into an 'us vs them' mentality. And this mentality can be used to do terrible things. As an atheist, I have no interest in squashing out religion. And all of the other atheists that I know have no interest in doing it either. But if you see peaceful, non-extremist atheists as a threat, then I do believe that makes you the one that is dangerous.


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

@JM

“The vulgar modern argument used against religion, and lately against common decency, would be absolutely fatal to any idea of liberty. It is perpetually said that because there are a hundred religions claiming to be true, it is therefore impossible that one of them should really be true.

The argument would appear on the face of it to be illogical, if anyone nowadays troubled about logic. It would be as reasonable to say that because some people thought the earth was flat, and others (rather less incorrectly) imagined it was round, and because anybody is free to say that it is triangular or hexagonal, or a rhomboid, therefore it has no shape at all; or its shape can never be discovered; and, anyhow, modern science must be wrong in saying it is an oblate spheroid. The world must be some shape, and it must be that shape and no other; and it is not self-evident that nobody can possibly hit on the right one.

What so obviously applies to the material shape of the world equally applies to the moral shape of the universe. The man who describes it may not be right, but it is no argument against his rightness that a number of other people must be wrong.”

― G.K. Chesterton


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

@MT

" if the atrocities committed in the name of Christianity were not representative of Jesus's intent, then how can you think the actions of atheist dictators are representative of true atheistic beliefs?"

Well, what do you call someone who believes God does not nor cannot exist? What do you call someone who denies God's necessary existence as well as all religions?


JMcFarland profile image

JMcFarland 2 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

Your quote made no sense. If you're going to Converse with me, can you use your own words, rather than quote mining others?


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

@JM

What didn't you understand? I'd be more than happy to clarify :)


JMcFarland profile image

JMcFarland 2 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

Your quote didn't fit in the context of the conversation, for one. Secondly, it was three paragraphs long. Thirdly, what's the point in commenting or making conversion if all you're going to do is repeat something that someone else said?


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

@JM

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I'm still not clear, though, on just what precisely about Chesterton's expressions you couldn't understand. Can you clarify that for me?


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 2 years ago from Midwest

In the end, one does not need to believe in God to have morality Joseph, so it doesn't matter if you're "right" and everyone else is "wrong". Comparing the right and wrong of God's existence to the Earth being flat is rather ridiculous. We can prove the Earth is not flat - we cannot prove God exists. Arguing apples and oranges doesn't do anything to make your point. If there is a God and he/she/it is so powerful - why is there no evidence or proof? The most likely, and most logical reason is that the concept of God as a deity is a human invented one - not the other way around.


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

@Chris

" If there is a God and he/she/it is so powerful - why is there no evidence or proof?"

Do you accept all evidence or just scientific evidence?


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

@Chris

It’s true, all sound individuals rely on their innate moral awareness, their conscience. This is why, since time immemorial, even the most primitive cultures, regardless of their metaphysical values, enforced laws and regulations against homicide and various other acts of evil.

But the truth is that, just as with our verbal communication abilities, for instance, our conscience has to be refined, calibrated, made more robust. If not, it could be stunted, or worst, perverted such that evil behavior is deemed good with good ones perceived as evil.

Because of this, the eternal well being and happiness of mankind is inextricably bound to the objective moral values and responsibilities lovingly given to us by our Maker. Without these you have absolutely nothing to guard your conscience from becoming disoriented perhaps even corrupted.

An exceptional instance of this can readily be observed with child soldiers. They are demonstrably much more coldblooded and ruthless when compared to their older counterparts. “More than 300,000 children—some as young as 7—are fighting as soldiers in 41 countries around the world,” said an Associated Press dispatch. Most are between the ages of 15 and 18. “Besides being used as front-line fighters, children are used to detect land mines and also as spies, porters and sex slaves, according to the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers.” Drugs are often administered to make children fearless. Those who refuse drugs are killed, said a 14-year-old rebel soldier in Sierra Leone. Regarding his fighting in 1999 when he was 15, a North African youth reported: “They put all the 15- and 16-year-olds in the front line while the army retreated. I was with 40 other kids. I was fighting for 24 hours. When I saw that only three of my friends were alive, I ran back.” The Coalition’s report stated that governments recruit children because of “their very qualities as children—they can be cheap, expendable and easier to condition into fearless killing and unthinking obedience.”

And so we arrive at the heart of our exchange. Whether or not someone possesses a conscience isn’t truly the issue. It’s if or not an individual possess a reliable one, and particularly, if he/she honestly obeys it.

This predicament calls to mind a very old Cherokee lore. It goes, roughly speaking, like this:

“An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."”

With that in mind, take into consideration what another equally wise and ancient passage reveals:

“This is what Jehovah has said [] “I, Jehovah, am your God [Creator], the One teaching you to benefit [yourself], the One causing you to tread in the way in which you should walk. O if only you would actually pay attention to my commandments. Then your peace would become just like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” - Isaiah 48:17,18 (Brackets mine.)

As would any caring mother or father, our Creator, Jehovah God, is keenly interested in our well-being. To this end, he instructs us on the best ways to preserve and also make full use of the conscience he produced us with.

To close, here’s a remarkable example of this loving guidance at work as reported in a well known intercontinental journal:

“In Liberia, Alex served as an altar boy in the Catholic Church. But at the age of 13, he joined a warring faction and became a notorious child soldier. To make himself brave in battle, he turned to witchcraft. Alex saw many of his companions killed, but he survived. In 1997 he met Jehovah’s Witnesses and found that they did not look down on him. Rather, they helped him to learn what the Bible says about violence. Alex left the army. As his faith began to grow, he followed the Bible command: “Let him turn away from what is bad and do what is good; let him seek peace and pursue it.”—1 Peter 3:11.

Meanwhile, a former child soldier named Samson came through the town where Alex now lived. He had been a choirboy but in 1993 became a soldier and got involved in drug abuse, spiritism, and immorality. In 1997 he was demobilized. Samson was heading for Monrovia to join a special security force when a friend persuaded him to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, and as a result, he developed a Bible-based faith. This gave him the courage to abandon his warlike ways. Both Alex and Samson now live peaceful and moral lives. Could anything but Bible-based faith make changes in lives that had been so brutalized?” - http://bit.ly/18WopZ0

Has it become apparent to you now exactly why each of us needs to scrutinize and make use of what the Bible teaches?


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 2 years ago from Midwest

psychology explains just as much as a lack of religion or belief in the wrong one. If religion and believing in God is a cure all for evil - then why have so many acts of violence been done (and are still going on) in the name of God? God, as a deity that we must fear that controls us as is taught in many religions, is a man-made construct. It makes perfect sense that everyone in wars believes God is on their side for example - perfect evidence that God is a product of the mind of men.

There is much more evidence that leads to that conclusion than that there is some distant being somewhere pulling the puppet strings. I'm actually a bit of a spiritual atheist - I believe we are all connected and that good/evil are concepts that are innately held by all beings - I just don't believe there is a distant being who watches over and protects us and that we are separate from it.

I believe that life in itself is a process and that all of us are "consciousness" experiencing itself. I outgrew the need for deities and magical beings a long time ago. I respect that others may choose to believe in a God and that's fine, where my problem lies is with ego - those who proclaim from on high that they and their beliefs are "right" and everyone else is wrong. They are not morally corruptible but the rest of "us" are - nonsense. We are all human and all capable of good or evil - whatever we choose and no one is immune from the ability to do bad things. No religion negates that or takes it away, all actions and behaviors are personal choice.

My sons have never been introduced to religion - but their teachers compliment all the time what outstanding people they are, that they are kind and that they stand up for injustices like bullying of others when they could easily ignore it and walk away. My 15 year old Godless son called out a boy for sexually harassing another teenage girl and humiliating her. He went to the staff at great risk to himself (the guilty boy is an athlete) and spoke out when everyone else was fine ignoring it. Keep in mind this is a very religious and conservative area where my son has been mocked and harassed for saying he's atheist when asked what he believes.

I find it rather offensive when people assume that religion or belief in God is required for morality - no, it isn't. Good people doing the right thing are the foundation of morality and they exist among all walks of life, all religions (or lack thereof). Those who choose to do wrong also exist in all these circles.


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

@Chris

"why have so many acts of violence been done (and are still going on) in the name of God?"

Your particular contention is not with all spiritual beliefs but Satanic religious beliefs. Christ’s teachings have continually been - and are still - absolutely nothing less than a marvelous blessing for everyone ( http://bit.ly/14G3fPF ). Why , then, do you dump the proverbial baby out with the bathwater?


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

@Chris

"Good people doing the right thing are the foundation of morality"

But what prevents these good people from being swayed towards evil? This is what my allusion to child soldiers illustrates. The problem isn't that there are good people with a good conscience it's that nothing exists from keeping these from being persuaded to do evil.

After all, a lot of good Germans, for instance, were persuaded to support Hitler's homicidal agenda ...


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 2 years ago from Midwest

Yes, and many of those good Germans were religious. People make choices - many grow up the victims or horrific things and become good people who do good in their communities. Others become "men of God" and do horrible things. Priests molesting kids for example, or the televangelists found guilty of fraud. Being religious or having a belief in a deity prevents nothing - free will and choice do.


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

@Chris

"many of those good Germans were religious. "

They were worshippers of Satan and that's why they did as they did (same goes for child molesting priests). No sedulous follower of Christ supported Hitler but, rather, opposed him. THAT'S the difference!


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 2 years ago from Midwest

No, those people didn't worship Satan. Satan is a cop-out and convenient excuse for those who don't take accountability for their own actions. Religious people can conveniently blame the Devil for bad things that happen and praise God for good things - but in both lie the utter lack of personal accountability. Pick up a psychology book and learn something about how the human mind functions - it makes much more sense than Satan did it.


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

@Chris

"Satan is a cop-out and convenient excuse for those who don't take accountability for their own actions. "

Where do I claim Satan was responsible for the Holocaust?


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

@Chris

"those people didn't worship Satan"

How do you know this? What's your evidence?


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 2 years ago from Midwest

You mean to tell me all of Germany was worshiping Satan and that is the reason Hitler came into power and the Holocaust happened? This conversation is so ridiculous it isn't worth having anymore. I won't discuss serious historical and humanitarian issues with someone whose sole reasoning is God did it or Satan did it. Thankfully most humans are evolving and we are learning that human nature is a bit more complicated than that.


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

@Chris

"The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one [Satan]." - 1 John 5:19 (Bracket mine.)

Even Christ Jesus referred to Satan as "the ruler of the world." (John 14:30; 12:31; 16:11)

In fact, one of the temptations Satan subjected Christ to was offering him rulership over all of the Earth. After showing him "all the kingdoms of the inhabited earth in an instant of time" he promised, "I will give you all this authority and their glory, because it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. If you, therefore, do an act of worship before me, it will all be yours.”" (Luke 4:5-7)

So you see, there's nothing preposterous about recognizing Satan's existence and his influence upon those who worship him.


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 2 years ago from Midwest

Well if Satan is that powerful and God does nothing to stop him then what does that say about God? To me it says God does not exist and that he is a human construct. If God did exist and allowed Satan to do all these things than he is neither all-powerful nor is he good and worthy of respect. This is why I believe in logic, education and understanding - not myths.


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

@Chris

In order for your conclusion to obtain you need to prove there is no good reason All-Loving God might have for temporarily allowing Satan to govern the world. Can you?


jlpark profile image

jlpark 2 years ago from New Zealand

@Joseph - but if God is all-knowing, and did allow Satan to rule temporarily as you suggest, then God KNEW what would occur, and let it happen - therefore being at fault.

Or if he did not know what would happen - he is not all-knowing. And therefore, statements of his omnipresence, omnipotence etc are incorrect.

At least this is how I see the question you pose. In trying to blame Satan for all that is evil done by people of faith (eg priests molesting, or the German example in time of Hitler) - blame can either still be placed in Gods hands, or on the fact that God is not what he said he was (omni-everything)

I'm not being disrespectful - I'm merely pointing out a flaw in that reasoning.

Each to their own belief really.


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

@JL

No worries JL. I appreciate your respectful sincerity! :)

"if God is all-knowing, and did allow Satan to rule temporarily as you suggest, then God KNEW what would occur, and let it happen - therefore being at fault."

Except that it was man's choices which put Satan in power in the first place. Allow me to explain. Just how might an adoring and capable mother or father really feel if they were openly charged of being deceptive to their young children , abusing their authority over them , as well as withholding what they need from them ? Could they disprove those slanderous allegations by physically attacking their accuser ? Certainly not ! Without a doubt , by responding like this , they would give credibility to the charges .

This depiction really helps to clarify Jehovah God’s strategy for managing a challenge brought up against him at the dawn of man's historical past in a region identified as Eden . There God Almighty announced to the very first pair of human beings , Adam and Eve , a fantastic undertaking . These were to fill up the globe , take care of it , and thus transform it into a worldwide paradise . ( Genesis 1 :28 )

Truly being a big-hearted Father , Jehovah handed Adam and Eve an exquisite haven home with all of its succulent fruits . Just one tree was not in bounds for them—“the tree of the knowledge of good and bad .” By avoiding this tree , Adam and Eve would certainly display their absolute trust in their Father , accepting that he had the right to determine that which was right and wrong for his children .—Genesis 2 :16 , 17 .

Lamentably , one amongst God’s spirit sons , inspired by the want to be worshiped , led Eve to believe that when she consumed the outlawed fruit , she would never perish . ( Genesis 2 :17 ; 3 :1-5 ) And so , this wicked angel , Satan , flagrantly contradicted God , in effect calling him a liar ! To boot , Satan proceeded to criticize God of withholding critical facts from Adam and Eve . Mankind , Satan suggested , could determine on their own what is actually good and what is bad . Stated more forcefully , Satan charged God of being an unfit Sovereign and Father and additionally indicated that he , Satan , could perform a significantly better job himself .

Through the use of those astute and fatal mendacities , this angel fashioned himself into Satan the Devil . These particular names stand for “Resister” and “Slanderer .” What exactly did Adam and Eve do, then ? They sided with Satan , turning their backs on God .—Genesis 3 :6 .

Jehovah could have eradicated the rebels just then . But bear in mind , as mentioned above previously in our representation , these kinds of difficulties can never be worked out through violent retaliation . Take into account too that when Satan confronted God Almighty , innumerable angels were paying attention .

By enticing Adam and Eve into deciding on autonomy from their Maker , Satan established a family which was not in fact self-reliant but , as you see , under his command . Prompted , consciously or unwittingly , by their “father ,” the Devil , this family would pick and choose its own objectives as well as values . ( John 8 :44 ) Still , might this way of life bring them genuine liberty as well as enduring happiness and joy ? Jehovah understood full well that it would never . Even so , he left the rebels to go after their ill-fated ambition , for only by doing so could the problems brought up in Eden be completely resolved for all time .

For upwards of 6 ,000 years now , humankind has erected one society after another , attempting more and more varieties of rulership as well as rules of behavior . Do you happen to be overjoyed with the outcome ? Is the human family actually joyful , undisturbed , and united ? Undeniably , the answer is absolutely no ! In its place , wars , famines , catastrophes , disease , together with unspeakable loss of life has besieged humanity , inflicting “futility ,” “pain ,” and “groaning ,” much like the Holy Bible reported long ago .—Romans 8 :19-22 ; Ecclesiastes 8 :9 . Fundamentally , "People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the LORD ." -Proverbs 19 :3 ( NLT )

Nonetheless , some might wonder , ‘Why has God not averted these disasters ?’ Honestly , that would certainly be an injustice , as it would undoubtedly blur the issue by creating the impression that rebelling against God is without deadly repercussions . Accordingly , Jehovah has not been in the background protecting against all the crimes and calamities that results , explicitly or in a roundabout way , from disobedience to him . Jehovah could never ever be party to the fatal myth that Satan’s approach could turn out well ! Notwithstanding , Jehovah has not been apathetic to what has transpired . Truth be told , he continues to be extremely active , as we shall subsequently appreciate .

Since the rebellion in Eden , he has long been very active . Case in point , he inspired Bible amanuensis to document his guarantee that a future “seed” would undoubtedly defeat Satan with everyone who allied with him . ( Genesis 3 :15 ) On top of that , via that Seed , God would constitute a governing administration , a heavenly Kingdom , which would bless obedient people , stop all causes of misery and even death itself .—Genesis 22 :18 ; Psalm 46 :9 ; 72 :16 ; Isaiah 25 :8 ; 33 :24 ; Daniel 7 :13 , 14 .

As a step in the fulfillment of those wonderful promises, Jehovah sent to the earth the One who would become the primary Ruler of that Kingdom. This one was none other than Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (Galatians 3:16) In accord with God’s purpose for him, Jesus focused his teaching on God’s Kingdom. (Luke 4:43) In fact, Christ provided a living preview of what he will accomplish as King of that Kingdom. He fed hungry thousands, healed the sick, resurrected the dead, and even showed his power over the natural elements by calming a violent storm. (Matthew 14:14-21; Mark 4:37-39; John 11:43, 44) Concerning Jesus, the Bible states: “No matter how many the promises of God are, they have become Yes by means of him.”—2 Corinthians 1:20.

Those who listen to Jesus and come “out of the world”—the system of things that is estranged from God and ruled by Satan—are welcomed into Jehovah’s family. (John 15:19) This global family of true Christians is governed by love, committed to peace, and marked by determination to eradicate any trace of bigotry and racism in its midst.—Malachi 3:17, 18; John 13:34, 35.

Instead of upholding the present world, true Christians support and proclaim God’s Kingdom in obedience to Jesus’ command recorded at Matthew 24:14. Think: Who preach the “good news of the kingdom” worldwide? Who have refused, as a worldwide spiritual family, to engage in warfare and divisive national and tribal disputes? And who let God’s Word guide their conduct, whether its lofty standards are popular or not? (1 John 5:3)


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 2 years ago from United States Author

Joseph - "Well, what do you call someone who believes God does not nor cannot exist? What do you call someone who denies God's necessary existence as well as all religions?"

There are actually quite a few different terms. Deism is the belief that a god created the universe but is no longer around to govern it. Agnosticism is the believe that there are equal parts chance of god existing versus not existing. Atheists don't believe in god based on the evidence we've collected thus far. And anti-theists don't believe in god and take the stance that the idea of god is damaging to humanity. However none of these are equivalents to Christianity. So the logic behind atheist dictators would be similar to using a satanist as an argument against theists. In other words, someone who worships Satan is a theist, but that doesn't mean all theists are Satan worshipers. That's what I'm trying to say about atheism. It does not go hand in hand with humanitarian atrocities.

And, with regards to morality, it very likely sprang from our survival instincts. Humans are a pack species, which means we are at our best when in groups. It makes sense when you think about it because friends and family look out for each other. So, in the days when the human race was young, those who survived were those that kept the pack strong. In other words, don't kill your neighbor.

Obviously there is more to modern morality than just killing, but they all stem from a similar concept of pack strength. Which would also explain your child warrior scenario. The children learned what was necessary to survive, yet when the opportunity presented itself for an alternative, that kept them and their pack safe, they took it. It is possible to warp someone's mind out of this pack mentality, but that is severe psychological damage unrelated to religious beliefs.

And one last note relating to Satan being behind many of the world's atrocities. Obviously I can't prove that it wasn't Satan. However, I also can't prove that it wasn't God. I can't prove it wasn't Zeus. Every deity is equal on the believability scale because every deity has the same level of evidence behind them: zero (yes I am referring to scientific evidence). Which means the only weight in the Satan argument is that you said it. And if the written word is the only basis for truth, then everything in every book ever written is also true.

Even the most hardcore theists still rely on scientific evidence in their day to day lives. You look both ways before crossing a street because instruction and observation has taught you that a car might be coming. We use the scientific method constantly: this light bulb doesn't work; it must be burnt; I'll put in a new one; now it's working. So why shouldn't we use these same methods, that help us learn and keep us safe, to assess our system of beliefs?


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

@ MT

"That's what I'm trying to say about atheism. It does not go hand in hand with humanitarian atrocities."

“It was Dostoevsky, once again, who drew from the French Revolution and its seeming hatred of the Church the lesson that "revolution must necessarily begin with atheism." That is absolutely true. But the world had never before known a godlessness as organized, militarized, and tenaciously malevolent as that practiced by Marxism.

Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin, and at the heart of their psychology, hatred of God is the principal driving force, more fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions. Militant atheism is not merely incidental or marginal to Communist policy; it is not a side effect, but the central pivot.”

― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

"And, with regards to morality, it very likely sprang from our survival instincts."

But how do altruism, empathy or compassion impose any moral duties upon us? How do these hold us accountable for our moral decisions and actions?After all, if morality is just a matter of personal opinion, why should you act morally, especially when it conflicts with your yens?

"So why shouldn't we use these same methods, that help us learn and keep us safe, to assess our system of beliefs?"

“I would not expect religion to be the right tool for sequencing the human genome and by the same token would not expect science to be the means to approaching the supernatural. But on the really interesting larger questions, such as ‘Why are we here?’ or ‘Why do human beings long for spirituality?,’ I find science unsatisfactory. Many superstitions have come into existence and then faded away. Faith has not, which suggests it has reality.” - Francis S. Collins - MD, PhD


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 2 years ago from United States Author

Joseph - Again, you bring up the phrase 'hatred of God' and again I reiterate that atheism and hatred of god are not the same thing. To hate god, one must believe in him, which means you're a theist who hates god. The most an atheist could do is dislike the idea of god as a character, which would be the equivalent of disliking Voldemort from the Harry Potter books. And if a theist who hates god tries to use atheism to rid a country of god, then it isn't atheism that is evil, it's the man who is using it to do evil. Even if the devil was forcing people to do evil things in the name of religion, religion is still being used to do evil things.

Morality is in the eye of the beholder, survival is merely the ground work. So, for example, someone might feel inclined to give money to a homeless person because of their 'moral code', while another person chooses not to give money to the homeless person because they think it will make them dependent on handouts and never work to get out of their bad situation. Neither person is morally wrong, they're just making a judgment call based on their own personal experiences. I don't think anyone would call either person evil, and yet their 'morality' took them in different directions. If morality was in some way tied to god or religion, then an atheist by definition would be an anarchist. Yet there are countless atheists who obey the law and lead perfectly normal lives. Their existence proves morality comes from somewhere else and that it is not dependent of faith or the promise of a reward.

And Francis S. Collins's quote is referring more to philosophy than religion. Humanity has contemplated these deep questions since our beginning. But, just because we ask them, doesn't mean religion is the right answer. It's just one of many guesses we've developed to answer an unanswerable question. Sure, it's a popular answer, but popularity does not equate the truth. Our brains can only process so much and theism provides an easy answer to these hard questions. Believing that 'god did it', and that he has everything sorted out, is easy for us to grasp and gives comfort to people in tough places. But, so does a security blanket, but that doesn't mean the blanket has any real power.


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

@MT

"atheism and hatred of god are not the same thing."

Looks like you’re cut from a different cloth than Dawkins, Denton, Wolpert, Harris, and all the other fanatical bigots of Gnostic Atheism’s religious movement. Every time I've watched them debate I can't help but hear the roar of goose steps in their rhetoric. It's almost as if they can't wait to round up all us theists and throw us into gulags.

"Morality is in the eye of the beholder"

Problem is , humanity doesn't deal with acts such as pedophilia , the gunning down of helpless little children , brutality , genocide , gang rape , racism or even serial homicide as merely socially improper conduct , like , say , picking your nostrils at the dinner table . Much rather , these jolt , outrage as well as horrify . They’re dealt with as moral abominations - acts of evil . (This is why, since time immemorial, even the most primitive cultures, regardless of their metaphysical values, enforced laws and regulations against homicide and various other acts of evil.)

On the flip side , love , equality or self-sacrifice are more than just socially useful acts , like , say , bringing a lady roses on a first date. Rather, these are regarded as conduct which is actually good .

That being said , irrational beasts don't possess **objective** morals . When ever a lion savagely kills some other it doesn't believe it's committing homicide . Any time a peregrine falcon or a bald eagle snatches prey away from another it doesn't believe it's stealing . Each time primates violently force themselves onto females as well as their little ones they’re not tried and convicted of rape or pedophilia . Needless to say, we undoubtedly did not “inherit” our **objective** moral sense from these .

**Objective** morals are never derived from scientific research because science , by it's very nature , is morally nihilistic . From where , then perhaps , do we obtain our **universal objective morals** from ?

Consider the following:

(1) If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.

(2) Evil exists.

(3) Therefore, objective moral values and duties do exist.

(4) Therefore, God exists.

(5) Therefore, God is the locus of all objective moral values and duties.

That is to say, as Dostoevsky once mused, "If there is no God, everything is permitted."


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 2 years ago from United States Author

Joseph - I'll agree that some vocal atheists (like Dawkins) take a harsher approach than I would. Though, in the documentary "The Unbelievers" he admitted that he's using a teaching method that a professor used on him when he was younger. Which was essentially to call his ideas stupid as a way of shocking him out of his comfort zone. And, though his words can sound harsh, Dawkins, and men like him, are a far cry from dictators. (Atheists would not agree to fight a war on their behalf).

As I said, survival is the framework for morality, it is not the only source. A lion doesn't feel bad if he kills a zebra, but a lion WILL protect its pack. Therefore, in the lion's primitive mind, saving the life of a lion in his pack is good, and killing one is bad. This extremely basic morality was just the beginning for humanity and it has been expanded along with out brains. The more scenarios we encountered as we grew, the more morality had to adapt to a new world. Religion was but one way for us to accommodate that, but it also got it wrong a lot by endorsing things like slavery and homophobia. It is a step on the long road of human morality, but it is not the first step, nor is it the last; that is my point.

Consider this:

If you found out god did not exist, would you continue to be a moral person?

If the answer is yes, then morality can exist without god.

If you answer no, then you weren't a moral person to begin with.


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

@MT

"If you answer no, then you weren't a moral person to begin with."

Thing is no one is born moral. They have to be taught right from wrong. This is why God's teachings are pivotal in the proper moral development of any person.

"This extremely basic morality was just the beginning for humanity and it has been expanded along with out brains."

Not to be facetious or anything, but so long as you're taking your signals on precisely what perfectly normal human conduct is from the world of irrational beasts, how come don't you slash the heads off your lovers after having sex just like the irrational Praying Mantis? Or what about committing dominance rape or simply having sex with young kids just as practiced by irrational primates? How about feeding on your own personal fecal matter the way irrational pigs, dogs, cows or primates enjoy? Why exactly shouldn't it be lawful for you to slaughter and consume infants just as irrational beasts can and do?


cathylynn99 profile image

cathylynn99 2 years ago from northeastern US


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

@Cathy

How, then, do you explain selfishness and its evils?


cathylynn99 profile image

cathylynn99 2 years ago from northeastern US

dad dies in a hunting accident, so is not there for junior. junior doesn't bond. junior does whatever he feels like doing and passes that on to his offspring. there are a gazillion ways early childhood parenting can be insufficient.


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

@Cathy

So you're claim is that all orphans necessarily grow up to be evil?


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 2 years ago from United States Author

Joseph - Yes, complex morality (beyond survival) is taught, but there is nothing that says religion is the only thing capable of teaching it. Growing up in a country with laws can also teach morals, growing up with parents who don't want you to punch your brother teaches you morals. Being part of a classroom in a school teaches you morals. These lessons come from countless different sources that have nothing to do with religion. You might argue that religion is what inspired all of those (I would argue survival) but if those other sources of morality can work without religion, then religion is not an essential component of morality.

To the praying mantis, devouring their mate is not irrational. Rationality is another human construct. What is rational to us is not universal rationality, only what makes sense to our species. For example, a pack species develops morality around strengthening the pack. Where as a species that survives best on its own, would probably have no problem with murder because murder is in its own best interest. The reason that it shouldn't be lawful to do the kinds of things that these other animals do is because we're not them. We don't eat our mates because we aren't praying mantis's. If the praying mantis had become the dominent species on the planet, then there is a good chance it would be legal to eat your mate. The only reason human morality has any authority over any other is because we're the dominant species on this planet. What we say goes because we can destroy anything that disagrees with us.


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

Coincidentally, I addressed the points you raise 5 days ago in a rejoinder addressed to Chris. I kindly invite you to perlustrate them :)


cathylynn99 profile image

cathylynn99 2 years ago from northeastern US

joe, orphans can bond with someone other than a parent.


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 2 years ago from United States Author

I read all comments in my hubs (even the really long ones). So I guess we're just going to have to agree to disagree.

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