Ah... I miss school. If I could get someone to pay me to go, I'd die perfectly happy. No such luck there, but at least I'm fortunate enough to have an occasional moment of downtime at the office.
As I mentioned in my last post, I cannot dissuade anyone who justifies their position through faith. It is by its nature irrational, and I would like to think that the majority of believers understand this. Let's not pretend that people simply need to endure hardship in order to "find god," however. I mean not to take away from your experiences, but others in seemingly hopeless situations find solace elsewhere. For me, it was existential philosophy. Your mileage may vary, obviously. For the record, I really, really tried to make religion work for me. For me, there were too few answers, and too many questions raised. And yes, Pascal's Wager (I believe I used the term "Cop-Out" previously) was a jumping point for me. The fact that it required me to stop asking questions and just accept something at face value "just in case" was anathema to me, and that phase did not last long.
I don't begrudge anyone their faith, in all honesty. I generally match the mood of the person with whom I am speaking. I honestly don't mind if religion comes up in conversation and they ask me if I've heard the good news. Once I've made it clear that I'm an atheist and there's nothing they could say that I've not considered at this point, however, if they press the issue, then the barbs come out. I will afford others the exact same measures of respect they afford me. Speaking of Christians and speaking of existentialism, the only Christian I know of whom I would say got it right (if I bought into the idea) is Søren Kierkegaard. For Kierkegaard, your relationship with god was your
relationship with god, and nobody else had anything worth saying about it. If god reveals some insightful truth to John, it is indeed a Revelation for John. For everyone else, it would be hearsay. Given that idea of a personal god, Kierkegaard was also highly critical of the concept of a Christian nation. Just a fun little side fact.
If that's what you do as a Christian, you are in the minority. I live in the bible belt and am openly atheistic. The fact that I am also openly pro-Second Amendment is a likely reason I have not encountered any trouble. Frankly, if they're dead set on teaching creationism in science classrooms, I also want them to teach evolution in churches and alchemy in chemistry class. After all, it's only fair to give equal time to competing theories, isn't it? And I'm in agreement on the "make every kid feel like a winner" epidemic, but that's more indicative of parents believing their children are extra special snowflakes that can do no wrong, which is a tangent for another conversation.
About calling someone's beliefs foolish -- again, I simply said I reserve the right. I don't open my conversations with that approach. We are capable of disagreeing with people civilly -- this conversation qualifies as proof, I would argue. If I am met with venom, I respond in kind, and I will feel no remorse. Honestly, why should I? If their faith is that strong, then they can surely handle a little ridicule -- and if it isn't able to withstand my jabs, then it was clearly undeserved.
Faith was useful in primitive ages, yes; it gave tribes and cultures a common rallying point given a lack of understanding of the processes of diurnal cycles, and love, and why some things were tasty, and why some almost always made you sick (clearly
that bacon-wrapped shrimp is
ceremonially unclean) and what happens after death. I do not argue that religion needs to be actively exterminated, however; I argue that religion will gradually die off of its own accord, given that the population is adequately educated. It is irresponsible to allow religious dogma to encourage people to actively deny the leaps and bounds scientific rigor and study have made throughout the years. Example: the Catholic Church only apologized and acknowledged that Galileo was right (regarding the heliocentric model of the solar system) in 1992. The man died in 1642. It took them 350 years to come around to admitting something that basic.This is a travesty.
For every step science takes forward, light is cast deeper into the shadowy crevices over which faith presently holds sovereignty. God -- or gods -- should s/he/they exist, continue(s) to lose ground. We have the capacity to answer the questions that we could not dream of answering before. To adopt ignorance willingly to perpetuate the reign of this god of the gaps is to willingly place a yolk upon one's shoulders.
Faith says that god made everything just for us -- science says we're not even a drop in the bucket, and can prove it with telemetry.
Faith says life requires god to kick start things -- science counters with abiogenesis, and has decoded the genome of humanity and other species to boot.
Faith dictates that we reject all of our instincts in the interest of pleasing a god that supposedly gave them to us in the first place for a spot in his Cool Dude's Club -- science has by and large found a cause for any such instinct we can find, and our temperance in heeding them need not in fact be due to the influence of god or gods. Our own capacity for thought and reason have enabled us to develop models of ethics and society, to harness the energy and resources of this diminutive little speck of a planet upon which we live, and begin searching for new worlds to explore. We need not reject the life we can concretely say we know exists just for the sake of that hedged bet!We are capable of so much more.
I'll leave you with a favorite quote of mine:
“For those who believe in God, most of the big questions are answered. But for those of us who can't readily accept the God formula, the big answers don't remain stone-written. We adjust to new conditions and discoveries. We are pliable. Love need not be a command nor faith a dictum. I am my own god. We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state, and our educational system. We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.”
--Charles Bukowski. I lament that I never had the opportunity to have a beer with him.