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Atheists get religion all wrong

22 May 2012, 15:12

Let’s accept that atheists are right. God doesn’t exist.

Does it make any difference? The religions they rail against – Judaism, Christianity and Islam seem to be their main target – are there anyway.

But let’s go on with the atheistic idea. Let’s say those religions do disappear, even this very afternoon, because all the members of the religions see the atheist light and stop religious-ing.

Will all the problems of the world cease – would wars, terrorism, sexual molestation of children, discrimination, jealously, theft, just stop. Some atheists say that religion is the root of all evil, so one would hope this is the case.

Would peace and goodwill descend on Earth?

Of course not.

The only change would be that religion could no longer be a justification for doing bad things.

Atheists don't seem to understand that the fundamental proposition of religions is more than just the existence of God.

If one wants to make the intellectual effort to understand the religions one should look at the whole and not just the part. No one has to of course, its all entertainment anyway.  But still, maybe is there a reason why religions endure.

[This is not to support one or all religions or to call for converts. It’s about understanding them. Moreover is not only atheists who miss the point of religion – some, many, members of the religions also do. And its not about me. You don’t want to know what I believe.]

So what is the fundamental proposition of religions?

One part of it is that the religions recognise that some things people do offend others to the point  of causing serious inter-personal. -family, -tribal, -community, -national, conflict, hurt, suffering. The religions say these actions are wrong. Some of their scriptwriters call them “sins”.

That’s not all though. The religions say that all people are capable of doing and do things these wrong things – their scriptwriters said people are “fallen”, “born sinners”.

Another part of the religious proposition is that they believe that all would have a better life if we all stopped doing the wrong things and did the right things. They continue to believe this in face of all the evidence that people find it terrifyingly difficult to stop offending in horrendous ways.

The role of God (in any of his forms: inspirer, creator, enforcer, dictator of the truth to a chose one, sender of his son) is an interesting part of the religious proposition. Whether he exists or not, the creation attributed to him physical and religious, does.

But shooting this God because of these attributes or for his non-existence is the same as shooting the messenger to get rid of unwelcome news.

The news remains: people do bad things and would be better off if they the right things.

The funny thing about this religious idea is that it is based on a fact. It is scientifically without exception verifiable that every single naughty, wrong, bad, evil this is done by people. This fact preceded and gave rise to the religions.

If atheists want to dismantle religions they need to dismantle this verifiable fact and the belief that things could be better.

Atheists may say religion has failed in its task. That’s a different debate. It would be a fun debate. Maybe they would offer a way to address the problem. Maybe they would argue that there is no problem - life is just a cycle of birth, eating, procreating, fighting and dying. Let’s hear.

Atheism, of course, wouldn’t help atheists. It has just a single proposition which has only one logically derived consequence: if asked if they believe in God they say “No.”

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