Religion has to be without a doubt one of the most controversial topics of discussion. Every single day, there are two or more articles on News24 published revolving around religion, whether it be in support of Christianity, God and their existence or whether it be against the existence of God, religion and the evidence of evolution to prove this. Whatever the argument, these articles form a platform for war between the Christians and the Atheists.
I will make it clear from the beginning of this article that I consider myself to be an Atheist. I was born a Catholic; I was christened at birth and went to Sunday school until I was able to do my first Holy Communion and first Confession. I hated every single minute I spent in church and at Sunday school and as soon as I had completed what my grandfather had wished me to (not forced me to, I always had the choice to stop if I chose to) I never, ever went back. The same went for my older brother who did exactly what I did and later refused to be confirmed by his school as he attended a Catholic boy’s school where this is the norm. This of course caused some uproar as he was a first team rugby player, first eight rower and a leader of the school, but my parents jumped to his defence saying that it is a personal choice for anyone and if he wished not to participate then he would not be forced to do so. As you can see, I grew up in a home where religion was not forced upon us or kept away from us. It was simply our choice to do as we pleased.
However, despite the choice I made not to follow a religion, I don’t find it in any way necessary to bring down those who choose to do so or to slander God and religion as a whole. To the other Atheists out there, have you ever heard the saying, “We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart”? To explain the quotation simplistically, every man believes that his wife is the most beautiful and that his children are the most intelligent but very little, if not none at all will believe this too. For all the other men will believe that their wives are the most beautiful and their children the most intelligent. Does this make any of these men wrong? Not really, because they see things from their own, personal point of view and even in doing so, surely they have enough respect not to announce to all the other men that their wives are all ugly and that their children are all stupid.
I do not deny the fact that all religions contain a group of small extremists who will try to force their religion on you and then proceed to tell you that if you do not believe in their God, you will burn for eternity in the fires of hell. This is true, but you cannot generalize and believe all Christians belong to this group and then proceed yourself, to tell them that they are stupid for believing in a higher power. Isn’t that slightly unfair?
To add to this, a majority of the arguments revolving around God and religion bare no real grounds. Some argue that the existence of God and religion cannot possibly be true because of all the atrocities committed in those very names. The Catholic Church during the crusades, slavery, the Ku Klux Klan, the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide, terrorist attacks, the Palestinians and the war against the Israelites and apartheid. Every single one of these mentioned have used religion as a justification for their actions in some form or another. As evident as this is, has anyone ever noticed the fact that the very people who supported and implemented this carnage had in fact perverted and warped the Holy Scriptures to support their own personal beliefs? They took the good out of context and used it against people to justify their own, deluded and sick mentalities. But then how could this have happened? How could any of the Gods of any of the religions allow this? Easily answered, because all faiths contain the idea of free will and what you choose to do with it is your responsibility. It happened because of mankind. Surely you have wondered how serial killers, such as Jeffrey Dahmer and John Wayne Gacey managed to go completely undetected for years while committing monstrous crimes? Easily answered too, because the men were complete psychopaths who appeared to be completely normal people who were described by many as being charming and intelligent. The same can be applied to those who have committed crimes in the name of religion, they got the masses to follow them not only by saying how they disliked a certain kind of people and supporting that opinion with a quotation from the bible taken out of context alone, they had psychopathic tendencies which allowed them to be these charismatic leaders who people loved and adored.
Furthermore, what evidence is there to suggest that an Atheist is of higher intellectual capacity than that of a Christian? Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, St. Augustine, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and Da Vinci are arguably some of the greatest minds in all of the world’s history yet none of them were atheist. If I can provide maybe a more relatable and modern example, my grandfather was a Catholic Knight and a religious man his whole life, yet his IQ sat between 135 to 145 points and anything above 140 points you are considered a genius. He was an educator his whole life teaching mathematics, science and history. Is he now considered a stupid man simply because he was very religious? Can we now assume that Ghandi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jnr. were also stupid men? Anyone can be of above average intelligence whether you choose to follow a faith or whether you choose not to. Religion is not a determining factor of that.
Is there a sound argument in saying that because a vast majority of people who follow a faith are poor and uneducated that they too are stupid? If you look at the African continent alone many people follow Christianity or Islam. You could say they are gullible idiots who need to be controlled by their governments by using faith could you not? This can go as far back for an atheist as to say that the bible was written and dictated by a small group of elite and educated people who needed a way to help the rest of the population understand the difference between right and wrong as they simply did not have the means to a proper education. For all I know, this could be the truth. But so what if it is? And is it so terrible that the underprivileged people around the world do have faith? Could I be so bold as to say that maybe this is not a bad thing? People living as such have to endure such hardship that maybe their faith helps them to wake up each morning and continue to live a life they did not willingly choose for themselves. Have you ever thought that maybe they might need a form of hope and something to look forward to in an afterlife that may or may not exist? It most definitely makes their lives slightly easier to have something to live for.
To sum up, what as an atheist brings you joy in hurting another person just because they do not believe what you do? Let people have their own faith and believe what they wish to believe in. There is truly no harm in doing so. If they want to preach, let them preach. You are not going to change your views in any case so what do you actually care? It’s not about being right or wrong, it’s about tolerance. This isn’t merely just for the extremist atheist; it goes for the super Christians as well. You too are in no position to tell someone of a different religion or belief to yours that they are wrong either. Let them be. They are happy as they are and do not want to be told otherwise by somebody else. Tolerance is key!