Monday, September 8, 2014

Time Out For Religion

According to an article in TIME magazine (August 18, 2014), there are 6% of Americans who identify with atheism (lack of belief in God) or agnosticism  (knowledge of God is unknowable).  The curiosity is that some of these are setting up "atheist churches", even in the Bible Belt, a concept that embraces the religious practice sans the theology.

There must be many reasons for the rejection of theism. In the introduction to his book, "The God Argument, The Case Against Religion and for Humanism", A C Grayling wrote that religions have often been cruel in their effects, and remain to this day:
"Homosexuals are hanged in Iran, adulterous women are beheaded in Afghanistan and stoned to death in Saudi Arabia, "witches" are murdered in Africa, women and children are subordinated in many fundamentalist households in the Bible Belt of the United States and in many parts of the Islamic world. Throughout history the religion-inspired suppression of women has robbed humanity of at least half its potential creativity and genius."

Nested deep in the theism-atheism debate is the nagging doubt about the source and content of our moralities: does morality come from a transcendent source or does it arise from our own intrinsic self reflection on human realities and relationships? This is a case for humanism as a powerful alternative to religious morality. Humanism requires no commitment to teaching beyond its two fundamental premises - that individuals should think for themselves about what they are and how they should live. There's no body of doctrines and prescriptions, backed by sanctions for not believing in the former (eternal damnation in hell) or rewards in obeying the latter (promise of heaven and the company of angels or virgins). Consider this fact: the institution that commissioned Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling also ran the Inquisition that burnt thousands at the stake. Religious styles of morality were premised on a religious view of the universe and mankind's place in it, not always a pretty picture.

Whether we like it or not, religions are here to stay. Organised humanism can offer variants of the theatrical aspects of religion - baptism, weddings, and funerals - that celebrate the significant moments of the passage of life and pander to the social needs of companionship. Probably the best reasons for atheists to gather and mimicking church. Instead of going off on Crusades, or answering the call of jihadist martyrdom.


  1. Indeed.

    Religion was useful when civilization was still finding its feet: the (imaginary) threat of an pervasive, supernatural entity was perhaps necessary in enforcing social mores in an age when rights were obtained and trampled upon by force.

    Today, however, it is like a child's dirty, smelly security blanket, long overdue for the trash can.

    It is no coincidence that religion is mostly an afterthought in the most literate, non-violent societies, like the Scandinavian countries today; in stark contrast, the byword in the most illiterate, violent parts of the world now - like the Middle East - is usually some variation of "god is great".

    When can humankind finally get rid of the childish bogeyman that is god?

    One holds out hope that believers today will realise their gods are no more real than those forgotten deities the Egyptian, Greeks and Romans used to worship.

  2. life & death is just that9/08/2014 8:47 PM

    We turn to religion because we fear the unknown.

    But if we understand and accept that once we expire & die, we need not fear. We simply die. Thats it.

    Soul...? who knows? this requires faith & belief... and this is the unknown that all religions exploit, to great effect and as can be seen through centuries, enormous human tragedies.

    I believe just die and thats it.

  3. And perversion of religion - Prosperity Gospel.
    Huat Ah!!!
    Khong Hee Huat Chye!!!

  4. Life is a journey, we come naked, aged, sickness and death is the end. I quote from Buddha: "No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path. Do not what is evil. Do what is good."