By David K. Clarke | 18 July 2017
The Ramblings of a Bush Philosopher
In the twenty-first century it is obvious that we owe our understanding of the world and the Universe to science. Not a single scrap of knowledge has come from the ‘revealed truth’ written by someone who believed he (it was almost always a ‘he’, rather than a ‘she’) was receiving instructions from a god or an angel.
I have written elsewhere about the need to continually examine our beliefs and the importance of doubt if we are to avoid error. How can one examine the validity of one’s beliefs if they are simply what someone wrote in an old book under the impression that he was divinely inspired? Where is the evidence that he was divinely inspired? Where is the evidence that there is a god or gods at all?
Most religions hold that there is some sort of immortal soul in all people. The arguments are too long to develop on this page, but I have shown that the concept of an immortal soul is logically unsupportable elsewhere on these pages.
How should we live our lives? Philosophers have taught us about ethical behaviour by argument and rational discussion over millennia. How could any intelligent and well informed person believe that it is preferable that we should base our behaviour on what someone wrote following what he believed was a discussion with a god hiding in a burning bush (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) or after receiving instructions from an archangel in a cave (Islam)?
Religion has led people to do horrendous things over thousands of years. I have written about some of many examples of genocide and killing in a piece on Christian intolerance. As Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg said, “Good people will do good things, and bad people will do bad things. But for good people to do bad things – that takes religion.”
How obvious does it need to become that religion causes more harm than good before people will drop the delusion? There have been long and bloody wars between Protestants and Catholics (both calling themselves the ‘true’ Christians) and between Sunni and Shia (both calling themselves the ‘true’ followers of Islam). Of course there can be no resolution to these disputes because both sides are equally deluded.
In the twenty-first century we have Islamic extremists killing other Muslims as well as non Muslims, the rise of the bloodthirsty Isis group in the Middle East and similar religious fanatics in Africa, Thailand, the Philappines and elsewhere. In Indonesia, which has been a example of tolerance between adherents of different religons in the past, the Christian governor Ahok of Jakarta was recently jailed for two years on the charge of blasphemy. His crime: he said clerics had used a Koranic verse to mislead voters by telling them that Muslims were not allowed to vote for a Christian.
It is human to look for explanations for anything that happens. Before science people looked to the supernatural in an effort to understand the world; it didn’t work, but the habit continues to this day. Over the last few centuries it has become increasingly obvious that science provided a path to enlightenment and superstition was a dead-end.
Reprinted with permission from the author.
Animated map shows how religion spread around the world
Stephen Fry on God
David Fitzgerald – The Weird-Ass Morality of the Bible (2015 American Atheists National Convention)
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