The God dilemma

IUS Horizon

The United States of America is a peculiar place to say the least. The U.S. is a place in which people don’t value education as much as they should, politics are theatrical and its citizens come in tremendous sizes.

There are so many things I could make fun of or pick on about this country but today I’ll focus my attention on religion and how incredibly dangerous and downright stupid it can be. Yes, religion, that thing that people are not supposed to discuss openly and critique because it may offend others. If you are one of those people, prepare to take great offense.

We have come so far as a species. We have crawled out of the primordial slime. We’ve evolved tremendously capable brains. We’ve survived disaster after disaster, disease after disease. We build, we invent, we contemplate our existence and we may very well be the only sentient living beings in the entire universe. We are unique and truly incredible animals.

Yes, I say animals because that is what we are. Yes, evolution did and still does occur. I don’t care if you personally believe it or not. We live in a word in which objective truth does exist. There is so much overwhelming evidence supporting the theory of evolution, and if the word theory bothers and confuses you I will simply refer to it as the fact of evolution.

There. I’m glad we could clear that up. (I promise I’m not just rambling, there is a point.)

I know its sounds like I’m over generalizing. I am aware the entire country is not stupid, fat and irrationally faithful to the proverbial tooth fairy, but the majority is.

So why do I take issue with religion? How could I not? How can anyone be OK with the concept?

We’ve come so far as a species and to this day despite our vast intellect there are people preaching ridiculous ideas like creationism and choose to ignore the fact that, oh I don’t know, penicillin works, we treat cancer, viruses evolve and change etc. The point is that modern medicine would not work the way it does if evolution never occurred.

As for the missing link argument, which I will inevitably receive letters and e-mails about, let me save you the trouble by introducing you to (drum roll please…) Australopithecus afarensis, Australopithecus africanus, Paranthropus aethiopicus, Paranthropus bosei, Homo habilis, Homo ergaster, Homo erectus (my personal favorite), Homo floresiensis, Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal. Congratulations, you may have just learned something.

Religion does not just perpetuate ignorance about medicine and the sciences; it spreads intolerance and has and still does justify the most heinous of acts humankind has ever committed.

It’s funny, I remember being approached by a particularly religious fellow who once made an interesting point. He said something about how without religion people would do awful things because there would be no consequences, no punishment for the sins they commit.

As an atheist I’ve never murdered or raped anyone, I don’t recall ever stealing and I care deeply about the state the world is in. It’s why I’m writing this article. So for the sake of argument does that not mean that the good I do is greater and more virtuous than the good a religious person does simply because I don’t expect any sort of reward for it. People who need God to threaten them with eternal hellfire and brimstone to perform good deeds need some serious alone time, perhaps a straitjacket too.

Religion has a poor track record of perpetuating good deeds anyway. I mean have you read the Old Testament? Here’s a quote from Richard Dawkins’ book “The God Delusion” that sums things up rather nicely.

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

These are not values I want to instill in the generations to come. Our morality and all the things we deem ethical do not come from religious texts (obviously), they come from whatever values a society deems acceptable.

This is not about insulting anyone’s beliefs. I frankly could care less about what anyone believes in the privacy of his own home. Religion becomes a problem when we start praying over our cancer instead of seeking out real treatment or when we ignore global warming because it may or may not be God’s will.

It is a problem when vaginal mutilation occurs because of it or when a father disowns his son for his sexual orientation. It is a huge problem when we kill one another because my god is the true God and your god is a cruddy little wanker. It is a problem when you come up to me in the coffee shop and proclaim that I am the Antichrist (and you know who you are) because I don’t believe in your fictional Jesus.

By AHLAEN SIMIC
Staff Writer
asimic@ius.edu