"Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking. It’s nothing to brag about. And those who preach faith and enable and elevate it are our intellectual slaveholders, keeping mankind in a bondage to fantasy and nonsense that has spawned and justified so much lunacy and destruction. Religion is dangerous because it allows human beings who don't have all the answers to think that they do. Most people would think it's wonderful when someone says, ‘I’m willing, Lord. I’ll do whatever You want me to do.’ Except that since there are no gods actually talking to us, that void is filled in by people with their own corruptions, limitations and agendas."
-Bill Mahar "Religulous"
I don’t usually like starting an article like this with a quote that will automatically sour the reader’s taste even before they see my actual words. However, when it comes to religion, I have yet to find a way for my secular positions to not bitter the tastebuds of believers. I could try an appeal to reason but let’s be truthfully blunt – those with such strong religious faith obviously lack the ability to reason in this regard so why bother wasting my time: let’s just get right to the controversial point.
The fact that our current, 21st century political system is still littered with the ridiculousness of religious dogma and that the people who make the decisions that affect our entire country and world do so under the ignorance of their religious faith is quite strikingly frightening to me – and should be to you also. I’m speaking mainly of the most current religious debate in Washington: the healthcare reform that would require health insurances to provide birth control for their women employers and those Catholics who have nothing better to do with their time than complain and stomp their feet (as if the world doesn’t have bigger problems).
The entire epistemological foundations of our world for science, medicine, agriculture, economics, mathematics, architecture, biology, music, language, geography, astronomy, etc. are based on the ability to construct knowledge through empirical means – through resources and premises that we can touch, see, feel, taste and hear. Otherwise we’d be sacrificing children to the Sun god to provide us with a plentiful harvest; we would be burning incense and anointing cancer patients with holy water instead of treating them with chemotherapy. We would be burning people alive or hanging children up by their ankles to cast the demons out of them (oh wait, some cultures still do that…). We have evolved as intelligent beings capable of making valid and truthful claims about the world in which we live to enhance our quality of life and thus our legacy as humans on this planet.
So why do humans, especially religious Americans, living in a 21st century overflowing technology and the fruits of this empirical basis of knowledge, still cling to one irrational, fictitious, evanescent conception of this singular deity whose scripture and message dictate their actions? Why do they let a superstitious, invisible being control their behavior as humans in a world that does not actually function upon the same premise? It’s the same as if we tried to live under water – the same rules and physics simply do not allow us to exist under water and if we tried, we would ultimately drown. In many ways that is what religion does to humans: it drowns our intellect and our ingenuities and most importantly that which make us human in the first place: our ability to reason.
Let’s face it – an atheist would never get elected president. Americans who believe their country is a “Christian nation” are simply deluded with a sense of religious grandeur.
Real quotes from our founding fathers:
"Lighthouses are more useful than churches" – Benjamin Franklin
"This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it" – John Adams
"Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man" – Thomas Jefferson
The last time I checked, we don’t live in a theocracy. Americans criticize religious nations like Iran whose national identity is tied closely to their religion yet their conception of living in a “Christian nation” is no better. Those Christians who invoke the freedom of religion argument are simply hypocrites as most of the time that freedom only applies to those of the same religion as themselves. How many Christians were violently outspoken against the building of a mosque near the site of Ground Zero? Where was the freedom of religion amendment then? Conveniently, the very protection the amendment is supposed to provide to
I could bore you with my overly circuitous argument for the non-existence of God and the logical premises upon which I demonstrate not only that the traditional conception of God does not exist but also that believing in God is unnecessary as we are able to construct a sense of morality to govern our human behavior through our empirical experiences and rational thought. However, I’m afraid the point of this article will have strayed too far into the meticulously constructed tapestry of a philosophical background and away from my original point that politics and religion do not mix. (However if you are interested in reading it I would be happy to let you read it).
Yet wouldn’t the world and society be a better place if we constructed our sense of morality and the laws that govern our behaviors off of those very mutually exclusive human experiences we all have? Rather than abide by ten commandments (that really don’t include anything of real value to a true sense of morality except that killing and stealing is wrong – it leaves out rape, torture, child abuse, genital mutilation, capital punishment, etc.) that were established by a divine being that exists separate from our world, why don’t we collectively attempt to recognize those parts of the human experience that cause pain, suffering, guilt, and turmoil?
No, instead we not only listen to some old white dead guy in the sky but we also listen to those old white guys alive in Washington who tell us what to do with our bodies and our lives! Going back to my original frustration – those of the religious right interfering in health care politics – we have white old men telling me, a young woman, what I can and cannot do with my body. It’s the same as a paraplegic dictating what the best kind of running shoes are for me: these men simply lack the parts to physically (and emotionally) understand what it means to have a vagina and therefore what is best for my vagina. It’s simply illogical, isn’t it?
The entire debate of all the Catholics who are pulling out the freedom of religion card so they don’t have to provide birth control for employees pegs another question that doesn’t get asked nearly enough.
Like in every other aspect of how we live our lives, why should religion still play such a public role in politics? I’m not telling you to stop going to church or worshipping whatever the hell imaginary being you worship (that’s for another time). My simple argument is let’s keep politics and religion separate: like it is supposed to be. And unfortunately for those of you religious folk out there, politics is everything! Politics, to get down to its ancestral word meanings, means “of and relation to citizens” or the processes by which groups of people make collective decisions about the way they live. Politics in our country means the economy, healthcare, education, food prices, taxes and pretty much every aspect of our life in common with each other.
These Catholics think “Freedom of religion” is their own personal amendment. Freedom of religion? How about freedom FROM religion? Freedom of religion doesn’t mean that those holding political power can pass laws based on their own religious beliefs that affect us all. Some may argue “well it doesn’t mean that those secular legislators should be able to pass laws that infringe on our religion!” However, in the realm of politics (a realm that should be kept strictly secular by default out of fairness to all citizens), healthcare is one major aspect that should not be played with by old white Catholics. By denying a woman the right to birth control from her healthcare provider because of what your personal religious book reads, is an infringement not only on her liberty to make the decision to have birth control in the first place, but also on her ability to protect herself and her own health.
France has got the right idea: secularism is built into their sense of national identity. Citizens can worship whatever they way, just don’t flaunt it, don’t publicly display it and most importantly, don’t let it interfere with the political process. For those of the religious right, primarily those old white, aging Catholics who still cling to their outdated dogmas, who keep trying to get their zealous agenda through Washington – I suggest we deal with your religion the same way you would deal with homosexuals. What you do in the privacy of your own homes is your business – but don’t go flaunting it around in public for the rest of us to see.
I guess that would work both ways for those alter boy friendly Catholic Priests…
I admit I probably haven’t done a thorough enough job of convincing you of my point as much as I have just pissed you off, only furthering your religious defenses and ignorance. Truth is, I’m tired of being politically correct and catering to the illogical thought processes of the religious mind. I’m getting older and more intolerant of such childish beliefs and superstitions and more importantly, frustrated with the ways that naivety is seeping over into the realm of politics. The simple fact that I will never even be able to dream about being the first female president of the United States because of my LACK of religion, chaps my ass just enough to be intolerant to the rest of you trying to force your religious bigotry into my personal life. Whereas us godless Atheists are expected to respect your religious freedom, you have no interest in respecting our freedom FROM your religion. So until this religious hypocrisy is exorcised from the political system and an atheist is elected president, I’ll keep pointing out the inherent contradictions and absurdity of your religious nonsense. Seriously, it’s time to grow up and start thinking like adults; God gave you a brain, so start using it.