A friend recently challenged me to package my atheistic views in a way that is more digestible. To wit, Todd has also pointed out that I tend to get rather intransigent when expressing these views. I cannot argue.
I’m aware that my religious history has created a reservoir of bitterness that may, now and then, leak into my otherwise perfectly rational approach to life. 😉 But I’ve known that down deep, the impetus behind my passion does not stem from anger, but it stems from my fundamental belief that a scientific approach is a more compassionate one.
There are entire books to read that would help you understand where I’m coming from. “The Varieties of Scientific Experience” by Carl Sagan is one. But today I read a single paragraph from a commencement speech delivered by the editor of “Skeptic” magazine, Dr. Michael Shermer that does a good job of it:
“Whether or not there is an afterlife, however, we must live as if this is all there is. How meaningful become our lives, our families, our friends, our communities—and how we treat others—when every day, every moment, every relationship, and every person counts; not as props in a temporary staging before an eternal tomorrow where ultimate purpose will be revealed to us, but as valued essences in the here-and-now where provisional purpose is created by us. “
That paragraph almost brings tears to my eyes. In fact the entire speech does a good job of describing my entire world view. The reason I get so adamant about my belief that religion is a destructive force in our society is explained in that paragraph. Religion devalues our life, by denying the fact that our humanity is the ultimate goal. Religion assumes some non-real goal is more important. And even if those religions hadn’t been used as manipulative tools in the hands of greedy people, they still opiated its followers into making less-than compassionate choices about humanity.
I see it every day, examples abound all around us, constantly.