The Past Makes You Think

I had mentioned that I did, at one time, kick around the idea of doing a podcast, but for various reasons it never got off the ground.  Out of curiousity last night, I dug around for my copies of the test podcasts and listened to them, in particular, a very long segment where I described my religious background and views, etc.

You know, I was sort of surprised at what I thought a mere 4 years ago.  I made it very clear that I was okay with people believing nonsense so long as they didn’t try to force it on others in any way.

I don’t share that view anymore.

To be honest, while I recognize that I cannot stop anyone from believing whatever irrational crap they stuff into their head, I’m no longer okay with it.  It is harmful, at least in theory if not necessarily in practice, no matter how liberal, no matter how social, no matter how minimal it is.

It’s like saying you’re okay with racism.  I’m not.  I can’t stop anyone from being racist, but I am going to detest the fact that someone holds racist views anyhow.  Those views are, in my opinion, damaging and dangerous to everyone, no matter how casual they might be.

This was even clearer to me when reading an article on Reason Being about congregational support of the abuse claims against Creflo Dollar.  Now this is nothing new, there are tons of cases of pastoral misconduct that are inevitably supported by their congregations. This goes both for believing the pastor is innocent and in defending the actual misdeeds themselves because those deeds must be justified by their faith.  Catholics are notorious for defending their pedophile priests, even beyond the point where it’s known for sure that they molested children.  Faith becomes more important than morality.

It also reminds me of a debate I’m currently having with a theist.  It started out as a discussion about the voices that Joan of Arc heard.  Both of us agree that she was delusional, both of us agree that the voices she heard were just in her head.  However, he keeps making rationalizations for why it doesn’t matter.  Even if it wasn’t saints telling her what to do, she still did “good” and therefore should be entirely excused for being out of her mind.  We then moved on to talking about Jesus and he says that even if the Jesus that’s written about in the Bible wasn’t real, the faith and “good works” that come from believing it justifies the belief.  Faith becomes more important than fact.

The thing is, theism is just part of a much larger problem, although it seems to be one of the largest parts of that problem.  That problem is irrationality.  It’s believing things that aren’t so.  It’s trading critical thinking and an interest in the truth for emotional comfort and soft, illogical views.  It’s wanting to feel good about things so you only embrace those things that feel good.  No matter how fundamentalist or liberal one’s beliefs are, the fact remains that they are believing something that is not factually true.

Faith becomes more important than reality.

People will often say that liberal theists aren’t as dangerous as fundamentalists and this is just one more reason to disagree.  Fundamentalists, in their delusion, won’t even acknowledge the possibility that their faith is wrong.  Many liberal theists, though, not only will acknowledge the possibility, they just don’t care.  Debating fundamentalists is generally pointless because they are intellectually incapable of changing their minds, or even considering doing so.  They are fanatics.  However, and this has become more and more clear to me in the past couple of years, debating liberal theists is likewise pointless because most of them just don’t care if what they believe is true or not!

Matt Dillahunty, over on The Atheist Experience, asks what people believe and why.  Just about everyone can tell him what they believe but virtually no one can tell him why rationally.  They can’t provide good, evidence-based, critically-evaluated reasons why they believe what they believe.  They don’t have any good reason to believe what they believe, then they take that faith-based ignorance and apply it to all aspects of their lives.  Religion and religious thinking poisons everything about an individual.  It poisons how they think, it poisons how they vote, it poisons how they treat their fellow man.

Certainly, there are many things which can influence your thinking and voting, but very few which are so utterly impervious to rational discussion.  You don’t hear many people saying “I understand what you’re saying but the invisible fairy on my shoulder tells me something else so I’m going to have to ignore you.”  Most things can be talked out in a reasoned and rational manner.  Not religion.  I don’t know any other force which could justify killing the Jews or dragging a gay man behind your truck or any of the other atrocities that have been done in the name of religion.  I think that religion is unique in that regard, with the possible exception of insanity.

But really that’s what religion is.  It’s a form of insanity.  It’s a disease, as much as I hate to give in to that much misused terminology.  An adult that still believed in Santa Claus would be considered delusional.  Why isn’t one who believes in an imaginary friend in the sky?

Religion has no place in the modern day.  It must be stopped if man is to continue advancing.

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