Thursday, June 7, 2007

Does religion promote better societies?

Many christians subscribe to the idea that religion promotes better, healthier and safer societies. Conversely, they often believe that a lack of religion leads to weaker, unsafer societies. Are they justified in thinking this? I put some cerebral thought into this question a few years back and came to a different conclusion.

It's very easy to look in the middle-eastern countries and see cultures deeply rooted in religion with deep social problems. Is there a direct correlation to the high numbers of individuals with fundamentalist beliefs within those societies and the problems seen? They definitely have problems, but is it religion? On the surface, one may conclude that this must be because of other issues or because of the particulars of the religions they follow. Is it religion in general or just their religion? Is it something else?

In order for something to be a theory, it must be falsifiable and it must predict. With the theory that levels of religiosity directly correlates to social problems within countries (a prediction) , one should be able to find similarly high social problems anywhere there are high levels of religiosity, regardless of the religion (a test). My theory predicts that even a developed, prosperous and democratic country should still exhibit high levels of social issues if there is a high level of religiosity in the general population. Where to look then? The obvious place, the United States. The US fits the criteria very well for an objective test of the theory. It doesn't have many of the other problems that could be effecting many of the middle-eastern countries; problems such as recent wars (or ongoing) on their soil, aggressive neighboring countries, political systems and instability, weaker personal liberties, lower standards of living, lower levels of education, etc.

So how does the US rank in terms of social problems when compared to other similar democratic, wealthy countries that are less religious? We all hear of the high murder rates, rapes, teenage pregnancy, etc. in the US, but Americans tend to think this is normal and many christians tend to blame it on a lack of religiosity in the general population - never considering that the US is actually one of the most religious countries on the planet. When contrasting the levels of religiosity in the US to other countries such as France, UK, Canada and many others, the numbers don't make sense by the claims of the fundamentalists. By the theories of the christian fundamentalist in the US, the US should rank higher for social progress but it consistently ranks lower then all similar countries with less religious populations.

My conclusion was that the US does exhibit many of the social issues that accompany high levels of religiosity, but this was not a full out study on the problem, just my own investigation and comparison of some general statistics from several countries.

Today, I found this:

Surprised? I wasn't.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Hope and morals - exclusively theistic?

Christians make some bold claims about Atheists – they often say we have no reason for hope and no reason to be moral. They couldn’t be further from the truth and I suggest that they apply some cerebral thinking to this idea.

First, there are tangible reasons to have hope and morals for Atheists - if you abandon the idea of a god all that is left is our planet, universe and the people around us. Many Atheists arrive at a humanistic view and philosophy because of this. Without a god, we are ultimately responsible to something much more tangible then an invisible friend and a book – we are responsible to each other.

My parents, my wife, my kids, my friends, my community, my species - they are my moral center. If I wrong them by causing them pain in anyway there is no god that will forgive me – I can only try to gain their forgiveness. If I hurt them I risk damaging their one and only shot at life. Their one shot - think about it. Christians can believe the damage they do to others isn't as severe because the victims have eternal souls, Atheists don't have that option. When we cause pain we know that we have stolen someone's time and everyone's time is limited. That is a much deeper and more profound reason to be moral then fear of punishment in an unproven afterlife. It's also a reason to have great hope for the future. If all humans placed the same value on human life as Atheists with a humanist philosophy do, then war and suffering would end very quickly. We put our faith in humanity. Humans can work together to make life better for everyone and it's in each individuals best intrests to do so. If I make peoples lives better, it in turn helps make my life better. That gives me real hope and a real reason to be moral.

Christian teachings in effect offer no hope at all – they relegate humans to servants that are here only for their god’s purpose. Where is the hope in that view? I suggest that it’s a very dark and depressing view of life. They are told to believe they have no purpose beyond that which an invisible god assigns them. They are asked to believe this without even any evidence for said god beyond a book. It’s a frightening message to a free thinker who cares about people before ideas. Christians seduce followers by making them fear hell or with promises of rewards and comfort with the idea of an invisible god who loves them and will forgive them for anything if they ask. They have no need to be moral as long as they can convince themselves that they will accept Christ into their hearts! Wow…crazy and dangerous, but true according to the bible. The bible asks them to be sheep and to put this invisible thing before the very people that care about them. I can see my kids and kiss my wife, hug my mom, work with my neighbor and friends and all humans - that is real and visible to anyone alive, and that is a FAR greater reason to be good and have hope then anything offered in the bible.

The bible counts on our selfish fears of death and our desire to live eternally rather then our visible and tangible purpose of teaching and raising children and making their lives great simply because they are conscious and have feelings. There is no hope in the bible and it teaches no reason to be moral beyond fear. It plays on our fears and selfish nature and then teaches that by succumbing to these human flaws you are actually being unselfish.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Blasphemy Challenge is under attack by cow killers!

The Blasphemy Challenge is under attack by Christians. This is of course not surprising because blasphemy is considered a sin to Christians. So as an Atheist I challenge them to put some cerebral thinking into this for a minute.

Do Christians feel frightened when they eat the holy, sacred flesh of nurturing cows? Yes I'm talking about eating a hamburger. To Hindu's, eating beef is about the equivalent of denying the existence of the holy spirit is to Christians. Every time a Christian eats beef they are blaspheming Hindu beliefs. Do they feel bad about it? I doubt it. Ever read the number of visitors above the golden arches? Wow! That's a boat load of ass whippings that Vishnu is gonna be handing down with all those arms she has if they are wrong!

Does eating cows mean they are disrespectful to Hindus? No actually. They are exercising their freedom of beliefs and thought. They are unafraid of Vishnu's wrath and refuse to let the superstition dictate their lives. Put simply; Christians are Atheists regarding the Hindu god Vishnu and the sacredness of cows. In that regard they are no different then an Atheist who doesn't believe in the Christian god Yahweh. So what does it mean if they attack Atheists taking the Blasphemy Challenge? It means they believe their belief system is superior and should somehow be held to a different standard - in other words, it means they are hypocrites.

To clarify for Christians frightened for Atheists souls - The Blasphemy Challenge is simply Atheists (people who lack belief in any gods...including yours) declaring they aren't afraid of the christian god. By denying god, they are walking under the christian "ladder", unafraid. They are eating beef and enjoying it. They are showing the world that they have no fear of that which can not be shown to exist, just as you have no fear of eating beef. They aren't afraid of your god because they just don't believe in it.

Now go have a hamburger and think about what I just said - and just as we won't fear denying the existence of a holy spirit, you shouldn't feel bad about eating a quarter-pounder with cheese.

Oh...and for the record:

I deny the existence of the holy spirit and I am unafraid.

PS: If you are a vegetarian christian, then substitute eating beef with claiming that Christ is the savior to a Jew. You and your false messiahs! You know who you are - the big guy is gonna burn you for worshiping that Mr. Christ! Just kidding...that belief is all without evidence too! Don't sweat it!

- Vorax