In any debate with a theist, there is a never-ending problem, they are only too happy to tell you what they believe, what they have faith in, but they are very hesitant, if not completely incapable of telling you why they believe the things they believe and why you ought to do so as well. I’m not going to argue that some people have faith, certainly that’s true for a large portion of the population, but whether or not that faith is well-founded is another question entirely and one that we need to address.
What I find most disturbing is the unfortunate reality that some people just don’t care if what they believe is true or not. So long as it makes them feel good, so long as it gives them hope, nothing else matters. They will argue with you that caring about the reality of a belief is not only not important, but entirely irrelevant if it gives them confidence and allows them to live a happy life, yet I would argue that nothing could be further from the truth. Comfort, based on a nonsensical belief, is faith placed in a lie and as such, doesn’t actually demonstrably improve one’s life.
And that’s the issue. We’ve seen all of the bad things that these false beliefs can do, it just takes a look through the Religious Horror Show to see story after story of awful things caused by and done in the name of religion. All the time in the world spent on one’s knees, hoping and wishing and dreaming and praying, it doesn’t bring any demonstrable positive results to one’s life. It doesn’t get you a job. It doesn’t put a roof over your head. It doesn’t make you any smarter and it certainly doesn’t make you more rational. It just wastes your time, talking to yourself, while your life passes you by.
I’ve used a tagline for many years now, “There is nothing demonstrably true that religion can provide the world that cannot be achieved more rationally through entirely secular means.” I’ve yet to find anyone who can demonstrate a fault in that statement. At best, and most pathetically, I’ve had people claim they just don’t care about truth, they just want to flood their brains with those feel-good chemicals that I’ve talked about in the past and revel in the emotion without worrying about the reality of it all. There is nothing worthwhile that religious belief gives us that we can’t get just as well or better without religion. Religion is just a bandage that gets slapped over problems that stops us from finding real answers and demonstrable solutions that actually help people. In fact, the “good” that comes from religion is like the “good” that comes from a battered wife staying with her abusive husband. “But he loves me!” Sure he does. But while she’s getting the feeling of being loved, she’s still getting the shit beat out of her and she’s rationalizing her way around the abuse for the emotions she’s desperately seeking. The same is true of religion. Sure, it might make people feel good to think that Jesus loves them, but the reality is that there’s an insidious mind poison seeping into their brains all the time they’re internally hugging their imaginary friend. It’s killing their ability to think rationally and critically about their beliefs and it’s opening them to even more absurd woo beliefs that studies have clearly shown, the religiously-addled are more likely to embrace.
So no, I don’t care what you believe. I don’t care what you want to be true. I don’t care what makes you feel good and, truth be told, neither should you. You should actually care what’s true, even if it makes you feel awful, just because it is true. Your emotional well-being is not paramount. What makes you feel good isn’t important. Your job, as a supposedly mature, intelligent, rational human being, is to deal with the world as it really is, not to candy coat it in religious goo, brightly colored and scented but ultimately empty. You ought to be better than that and if you’re not, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.