*This article may be offensive, but it’s worth the risk of offending if a single person is steered away from a life wasted chasing sky-ghosts of millennia past. Please feel free to share this perspective with loved ones who may be lost.
There is no reason to believe anything for which there is no proof. Even if something is thought to be true for a long time, even by lots and lots of people. For example, it turns out that the sun is not the center of the universe, Earth is round, hurricanes and tornados are the result of atmospheric disturbances, and recently the Catholic Church proclaimed that limbo doesn’t exist…so the unsaved babies are all in heaven already!! Hooray for the babies.
If the only so-called evidence for something a person believes is that lots of people raised in a mysterious fog of folklore have been deluded enough to be convinced of it, those “beliefs” are illegitimate. In the case of Christianity, people have been convinced, mostly through indoctrination of the youth, that an invisible trio of supernatural, cosmic, zombie-like aliens are responsible for everything positive and neutral in our lives, and that another, bad, alien is responsible for everything unfortunate in the world except some things which are the fault of the zombie-trio who tend to “work in mysterious ways”. Personally, I tend to steer clear of and question every opinion and decision made by those ppl – being that they’re in a constant state of slight hallucination at least.
Religion is a mental poison. It negatively affects everyone it touches. Whether a religion causes guilt or shame, or compels physical violence and verbal abuse, or just slightly affects a single decision, the effects are unnecessary and damaging. Imagine if you were told that peanut butter was guacamole as a youngster. Imagine going your whole life thinking that peanut butter was guacamole and vice versa. This would probably impact your decisions a few times, though, whether negatively or positively is speculative. So how much does being indoctrinated with religious teachings impact a person’s opinions and decisions? It stands to reason that a misunderstanding of physics, delusions of ethnocentricity and telekinetic correspondence with aliens from a different dimension, and subconsciously seeing virtue in subservience are all things that probably have a fairly significant amount of pull on the decision making strings within the heads of religious folk.
Religion is completely intolerant, although it’s almost always disguised as loving, caring, supportive, and all about spreading joy and peace, etc. Under that botoxed façade religion has nothing to do with any of these things.
I’m often offered a valid point when voicing these truths: as long as the “beliefs” of others cause no effects in my life, then I shouldn’t care. Of course, this is where the problem arises.
Public opinion shapes the rules by which we live. When the public is duped into rooting their individual values in fictional, morally flawed tales from the days when “WingDings” was a readily legible font on stone tablets, public opinion becomes vastly skewed toward the illogical.
This is why slavery was once lawful, why gays are not allowed to make the same public commitment to each other by law as their hetero counterparts, why 3000 people were crushed and burned to death on 9/11, why an army of Catholics and Protestants committed the Natzi holocaust, why hundreds of millions of Americans have been incarcerated in the war on drugs, etc, etc, etc. Self-righteous dicks everywhere just can’t help themselves from initiating violence in order to curb non-violent behaviors in there fellow man simply because they, themselves, aren’t “into” those behaviors. Overwhelming popular opinion heavily influenced by religious values caused the afore mentioned list of wretched violations to life and property (and uncountable others) to be executed more smoothly than if they’d have been carried out in a free-thinking, rational, secular society. Of course this has not been tried, so we can’t know for sure, but I think it’s worth some thought.
To the argument which suggests atheists who argue against religion are simply on the opposite side of the spectrum from proselytizing evangelists: Helping to normalize rationality and logic and belief in evidentiary claims is not the same as attempting to spread the indoctrination of societies into a highly gullible and easily moldable base of superstitious, complacent fools.
Hierarchy is not pyramidal; it is horizontal. In modern society, sociopaths drawn to power over their fellow humans are allowed to reign over populations because of horizontal ostracism waged between their subjects. Religion, which is false to begin with, is used as a tool with which people are conditioned into complacency and distractingly pitted against one another on the basis of unethical codes. This makes people susceptible to unwarranted trust, and unwarranted forgiveness. It dulls the senses, and when 90% of our peers allow this ridiculous storyline to serve as the foundation of their morality I find it irresponsible not to combat that line of thought when given the opportunity. It most certainly does affect my life, and yours, and your parents, and your future children, and my future children, and everybody else.
Lastly, when I was involved in the church (for 10 years) I remember thinking that non-belief sounded more reasonable than what I was so adamantly favoring at the time. Honestly, it teed me off when people spoke about how pleasant life is without religion, because I was living nearly “sin-free” under all sorts of constraints and restrictions, and they were having a better time than I was in general, so I understand the frustrations of those on the other side of the truth whole heartedly. Then again, I’m full of wonder rather than answers these days, and that curiosity and lack of introspective pressures is exquisitely freeing. Even though it is a sin punishable by eternal damnation and hellfire, I highly suggest throwing off the manacles of religion for a couple weeks (or forever) in the interest of seeing what living for yourself has to offer.