It not so bizarre that atheist and religious preachers share so many things in common than they would admit.
Firstly, both have contradictions in what they preach, yet both see nothing but consistency. I'm familiar with the feeling of being absolutely right. When I was a fundamentalist Muslim I saw Islam as flawless, and it was only when I lost my faith that contradictions started to pop out. I was angry and depressed. I felt I was deceived and hated Islam with all my heart. I started to believe a lot of anti-religion arguments and these 'beliefs' started to appear as flawless once again. Only when time healed my wounds, and my hate toward Islam started to fade away that I started to ask myself who deceived me into Islam in the first place? Why does religion exist? I could only find one answer, the human mind, or to be precise, human genes.
When I stopped becoming hostile toward religion I started to notice a lot of contradictions in a lot of these 'in the name of reason" arguments, in fact, it appeared as just another religion. You do not need a deity or a sacred book to have a religion. I see religion as a necessary illusion that our minds created. We as humans have a simple purpose, to survive and reproduce, and religion is a powerful tool to achieve that.
A lot of atheists seem to think our purpose is to reason and discover the secrets of existence. Perhaps that's why this anti-religious movement is just another religion, it gives its adherents an emotional purpose. just like religion.
One argument is that religion is against nature when it comes to sex, but like sex, religion is natural too. Why support one natural aspect and be against another natural aspect? Another argument is religion is against scientific advancement, but since when was scientific advancement part of human nature? Since the scientific revolution, we humans bred into 7 billion people and damaged our nature so badly. Scientific advancement might even one day lead us into extinction if it has not already.
Do not get me wrong, I'm not against science, I'm just saying that religion seems to be adapting well, and active atheism has manifested into a religion with illusions that only appear true to it's believers.
Religion may be natural, but so is disease. Disease tears down the body's ability to function. Religion acts against logic and deduction by introducing false facts and insisting on adherence to them. The cures for disease aren't particularly "natural;" indeed, a great many of them are human inventions and would not exist otherwise. Science is also a human invention, and it acts against religion by demonstrating religion's failure to have any basis in verifiable fact.
So ... we can go with something natural and suffer disease and religious indoctrination, or we can act against both and improve our lot in life on two major fronts. Just because something's natural does NOT make it desirable.
Disease has many benefits, it strengthens the body and keeps populations on check. In fact a lot of diseases are unintentionally made by humans, you might still view them as natural that's fine. I don't think it's possible to live healthy without diseases around us.
and religion might not be desirable to you, but what about the other 7 billion people? A lot of believers seems to be doing just fine.What is special about religion is the variety of it's benefits, these benefits overweight the negatives.
If the benefits of religion outweighed the negatives, we wouldn't be here fighting the damnable stuff. The fact is that religion LIES, promotes untruth and maintains its position by virtue of the laziness of too many of its adherents. And thinking of disease, both Jehovah's Witnesses and Christian Scientists actively resist medical science, at least in places, in favor of their irrational beliefs. No great surprise, they are in the minority of believers.
As for disease making the body stronger, sure it does ... against one particular disease. When Pasteur inoculated people using cowpox, it was one of the few times that an active virus could be used to provide a defense against another, far deadlier active virus, being smallpox. An immunity against mumps isn't going to do me a damned bit of good against cerebra-spinal meningitis. Without man-made anti-agents to disease, a great deal of our current society would not be possible.
The only positive I personally see in religion or religious organizations is the community built up around them. If you don't see this in atheism, it's because we're young on the curve, yet atheist communities are beginning to emerge. Don't look now, but We're IN ONE, and there are other organizations out there such as the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Center for Inquiry which are providing the beginnings of legal and social structures for atheists to gather and organize under. Charitable help? Secular organizations do it better and with less overhead ... and WITHOUT having to "pay for the soup" with religious indoctrination.
And at the extreme end, there are the dominionists, those dedicated to the New Apostolic Reformation, which would either weaken the federal government or overthrow it altogether and replace it with a christian theocracy. Let that happen and you can watch the US go down the tubes and become a third-world nation. Make no mistake, the extremists are able to operate because the supposed moderates are "respectable," and get a pass ... or they have until recently, when the scrutiny on religion has become more intense in the wake of 9/11.
One last note: religion has had the rule of the roost for several millennia. As a result, it has considerable social inertia associated with it. Science and the tools and understanding which have come with it have only emerged in the past 400 or so years, and its push against irrationality is very recent. It has far less social inertia, but it has the facts on its side, and it is growing. Religion used to be sacred, beyond question - not any more. The falsity of religion is coming increasingly under skeptical investigation and study. It doesn't like that and it reacts, which is why we see organizations like The Discovery Institute and Creation Ministries, International trying to use science against science, though not with a great deal of credibility. So we push back and grow our numbers, gain a foothold in the field of public thought. It takes work, because ignorance is easy and learning and knowing takes effort. Ultimately, I think it's not just desirable; I think it's mandatory.
What we're seeing here is the leading edge of a paradigm shift ... or what can be that if we're persistent.
Loren I agree with you and you stated it beautifully. Way to go!
Right Loren is very eloquent!
I also agree with Loren.
From my viewpoint, religions do more harm than good, and some religions do much more harm than good. One of the harms that bother's me the most is the terrible fear of satan and hell that is programmed into children, that often lasts a lifetime. Another is the guilt of never being good enough.
Religions have far more benefits than what you mentions, they give people hope in times of hardships and are powerful drugs against anxiety and depression. Not all people want the truth, most people just want to live happy.
If hope is false hope, does it have real value to anyone who wishes to live in the real world? If prayer is supposed to be answered and isn't (which is the case virtually 100% of the time), what is that other than time wasted?
Whether it's 72 virgins in a paradise which doesn't exist or an eternity of praising a psychopathic deity in a heaven that is equally illusive, I WILL PASS. I would far rather be responsible for my own life and enjoy what little time I have, sharing that enjoyment with my friends and family, than delude myself with unproven and ridiculous promises which insult my intelligence and have no corroboration whatsoever.
Nietzsche singled out hope as the most insidious and perverted of concepts, worse by far than "I believe" or "I pray," the latter once ridiculed by the late William S. Burroughs who famously said, "Pray in one hand, shit in the other, see which one fills up fastest."
Interesting to hear you say that, James. My abnormal psyche professor said much the same thing about hope, something to the effect that hope lies to you (much as religion does).
I've been lied to enough, thanks.