Whilst I am not religious, I would challenge anyone who would thus label me an atheist. I consider myself agnostic, not because I disagree with global religious, but because I feel that faith is often a metaphorical representation of spirituality. Subsequently I feel that trying to discredit someone’s religion is both cruel and arrogant.
Though I have never considered religion in a literary manner, I believe that having faith is part of human nature. My view therefore reveals that I fear the consequences of humanity moving into a godless world, or more, the replacement of religion with faith in science.
In the place of a god, we now believe that our existence is random and spontaneous, in the place of morality we now have sociology, in the place of heaven, we now have darkness. Our faith that an all seeing being created and watches over us has been scrutinised by physics. However what I have observed with the rapid advances in scientific philosophy is actually parallels between scientific study and religion.
Instead of listening to the preaching’s of a clergyman we now accept what we are told by scientists. Such unwavering belief is what influenced me to write this piece. When having a debate on the flaws of religion, my friend said the somewhat arrogant statement of ‘how dumb must you have to be to believe that there is a man in the sky creating everything’. Whilst I somewhat unconsciously agreed I felt slightly hypocritical when agreeing to his next statement, ‘science has proven that a god is impossible’. It then struck me that in actual fact I have been all my life putting faith in the research of scientists. My use of the term ‘faith’ is entirely intended. Science has told us that religion is unlikely, and has told us that the universe began with a big bang, and that the laws of physics govern everything we see and experience. There is no way of proving to me personally that there was a big bang… I never saw it, and if I asked a physicist to prove the event he may show me some graphs or boast that it is the most likely explanation. Much in the same way I was taught in primary school that god created the earth, the proof would be a book full of stories of miracles and the son of the almighty, and then told that it was the most likely explanation. Two explanations, both speak of spontaneous creation, both requiring faith to prove.
I have never seen Universe. I have seen pictures of Pluto, but I have also seen pictures of Jesus. Both images created by humans. (Photos of the milkyway and images of deep space are woven together from many images from powerful telescopes) I’ve seen pictures of what the big bang might have looked like and I’ve seen pictures of what god might look like. I do not intend to discredit scientist research, as I am incredibly interested in the field and do herald the advances being the most likely to explain why we are here and how we got here. Nonetheless I do also feel that science is actually becoming a religion: Unquestioned faith, preachers, spontaneous creation, humans were created by an almighty force (We are constructs of the remnants of the big bang/we were created by an almighty being), we are the pawns of an invisible force (God/Laws of physics). The similarities are endless. An explanation to similarities would often be, justifiably too, that religion was a way of humans to explain life prior to advances in science. But wouldn’t that have been the same explanation of when Christianity emerged from Judaism? Or Judaism from Egyptian belief? We could say that science is an updated version of religion. It is still humanity looking for answers but I could never arrogantly assume that we have now cracked the code. Philosophical evolution yes, but to throw off faith in replacement for the new and more likely explanation just seems a motif. A motif that in the case of atheism may have dangerous consequences.
The idea of ‘good without god?’ is an idea that interests me a lot. It has often been used as a moral way of discrediting Christianity; by saying that I am a good person even though I do not follow the teachings of the bible. However, like I said, I am not religious whatsoever, but I am going to now talk about the advantages of religious faith:
Many people need religion. More specifically, many people need purpose. For some purpose may come in the form of family, financial success, happiness, travel, etc… but for others (especially those with hardships) faith gives purpose. Whilst I am against the way in which the church has often promoted the idea of ‘suffer for a lifetime to be rewarded with a place in heaven’, I feel that such an idea can actually be beneficial. I would also take the moment to clarify that I do not want to go into the political, social and economic corruption that exists as a result of religious exploitation, but would like to discourse in a philosophical manner. Religion has offered comfort and explanation in many aspects of life that would not find solace in rationality. Examples may be in such events of death or suffering, but also in philosophy, to questions of how/why are we here.
A theory I thought about when I was younger was that religion was created by humans as a way of controlling other humans. I used to believe that religion was a form of internal policing. Someone wouldn’t murder another person because of the consequences of hell, subsequently you would help your neighbour, etc. Religion, especially in the case of Christianity, was a moral guideline intended enforce moral laws and create order. When I grew older I began to believe that the requirement of these moral laws were not needed anymore, due to the increasing existence of an external policing forces. Instead of the prospect of not reaching heaven there was now the prospect of prison. My interpretation was very narrowly argued, especially when considering the scale of religious influence. Nevertheless I do contend that an aspect of sociology, regarding the advances in human civilisation, has further decreased the importance and the validity of faith.
This is the end of part one of my theory of the dangers of Living in a Godless world, in the next part I shall talk about how I believe that the pace of disbelief in religion may have consequences.