“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”
If you don’t know by now, I don’t believe in any religion. I believe that there is no god…no divine anything. I don’t just disbelieve in the Judeo-Christian god, but all gods – Zeus, Apollo, polytheistic gods, but ALL forms of a god-like deity. But you might not know that I believe that religion is harmful. I believe that religion is full of inherent doom. Some will call me a heathen. Some an atheist. Some an antitheist. (I’ll go with Anti-Theist). Some have told me I’ll go to hell, some have told me to get a way. “Mr. Bush, then vice president, said that he didn’t think atheists should be considered citizens or patriots since, “we are one nation under God.” (But only since the 1950’s Georgie). Whatever you decide, I think all religion is extremely harmful. It should be a crime to force children to accept any religion until they are of such an age to make their own decision. Religious classes begin after science classes. And only after the age of 17.
Christopher Hitchens said religion is “violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism, tribalism, and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children” and sectarian, and that accordingly it “ought to have a great deal on its conscience.”
He could not have said it any better.
The older I get, the more and more intolerant I become of religion. I have been rather passive in my views, because I was a bit lackadaisical about it. Until, that is, a few years go, when my son came out as an atheist as well. And there began the journey only a teen can put a parent through – 40 million questions about scientific things I was not wholly educated in, and only had a bit better understanding of. When it comes to science, I have always been interested. Just not nearly knowledgeable as I wished. I have always been a self educator, and have learned quite a lot – just never enough. In addition, my best friend in life (and the love of it, too), has a masters in biology, and though now is a senior programmer (a scientist AND a programmer – how incredibly sexy can you get, man? Seriously), for one of the largest tech companies in Estonia, is incredibly interested in evolutionary biology. Because of him, I have, in the last few years, read quite a bit about it. I have questions about evolutionary biology, and if I cannot find a suitable answer, it is to he that I go.
If you ask, what does understanding evolutionary biology have to do with not believing in gods? Well, for me, the two ideas go hand in hand. When you can imagine the listless seas of 4,533 MA years ago, hardly any oxygen in the water, and life forms as simple as they could be, the Precambrian charnia , anchored to the sea floor, lullying slightly in the soft movements of the ocean water, you cannot help but question what god has to do with this?
And trilobites of the Cambrian era? 526 MA years ago. They existed, and left their remains here, for us to find. To hold. There are so many, and so many varieties (over 17,000) all over the world. And .. and .. and .. The brain just keeps asking. The answers are there, in the pages, with science backing up the claims. There are fossils to touch and hold. There is tangible proof of our evolutionary beginning. Gods, however, have only man to credit for his beginning.
My brain requires that the thoughts I process into simple or complex questions must have answers. The way for me to get to the answers is to question, which then requires thought, which requires study and may bring some answers, but always more questions to be asked and thought and studied about. My poor brain has always been this way, and I happily submit to you that my own son is very similar. It is a necessity, like breathing.
The same thing when it comes to a god. My 10 year old brain asked these questions to Sister Jean “How could a god create this earth in just a few days. Were the days counted differently back in antiquity, when the bible was written? Did one “day” count for 1000000 years? Because there are seashells in the rocks in my backyard, and my grandfather says they have been that way for millions of years. and that Nebraska was once under the ocean”. My desk was moved out into the hallway for the remainder of religion class. But my questions never stopped. Once I was in Junior High, away from the nuns and the church, and in Natural Science class, the questions actually could be posed without fear of rejection and punishment.
If I do believe there is a god, it is a god we create ourselves in science. Science is where all the answers we need will come from. And a good, deep dose of common sense.
I have watched what religion does to individuals, families, groups, and countries, and entire sections of my world. Wars are started, never ending, because of religion. Most of the 20th Century was spent in some sort of war, and almost all of it about some form of religion. Since 2001, we have waged another religious war (though, they never out right called it that), in Iraq and Afghanistan. Religions bring war. War is because of religion.
We don’t need a god or religion to know right from wrong, to love, to live a good life, to care about others, and be not only sympathetic, but empathetic. To learn everything we can, to be truthful and honest with myself, and everyone around me. This life is about being satiated with knowledge of the world I live in. To learn all I can, and to make sure those that come after me know all they can. I want them to hold a trilobite in their hand and know that it is almost as old as the earth itself. My life has to be a good one, a fulfilling one, a happy one. Because there is only one life, this life I lead. Just this one chance to live and love and dance.