Recently, Sander wrote an article on evolution – (tl;dr: He doesn’t “believe” in evolution, – it is a scientific proven theory without the need of belief). The article was linked on reddit, Facebook, Google+ and shared with many. It was read by about 230,000 people over 3 days, and commented on hundreds of times. It was the comments that really blew me away. They started out well – “good article”, “Interesting but use “this word over that word”, some science to back it up, some science to view a mention of a theory another way, etc. Nothing bad at all. I learned a lot from the comments… that is, until the fundies saw it. And then you would have thought you had moved mysteriously to another article, on another site:
“Praise the Lord, THE Creator! Praise Jesus! Praise the Holy Spirit! Say what you like, but I’ll keep my belief in the Lord Almighty.”
The first person to bring religion into the conversation. Lord Almighty.
“I gave you an experiment to do (Ponder and pray about the Bible and/or Book of Mormon) and see if you get a result (A feeling or prompting, a swelling in your bosom.) (D&C 1:8). Again, just so you don’t sound arrogance or show ignorance, the experiment is to read and pray, the result is to see if you get that feeling.”
Was that a bit of religious “science”?
“i am a creationist. i do believe in some forms of evolution, such as the eroding of mountains, floods that overtime have made the paths of streams and rivers change. but i dont believe an animal was one way then over millions of years its now another way. i believe everything,especially man, was made with a blue-print. a salamander has,is and was always a salamander such as is a duck,a goose and elephant, cells, man and so on so on so on.”
Uh.. Huh? Evolution and the eroding of mountains, floods creating streams and rivers has nothing whatsoever to do with evolution. Ecology yes. Evolution no.
And my favorite (especially since I just had to respond):
“I think many of you are forgetting one very important thing. God is the source of ALL Knowledge. ALL KNOWLEDGE. That means Religious and Scientific knowledge: and if God gave us both, shouldn’t they go hand in hand? One cannot contradict the other or cancel the other out. The debate between Evolution and Creationism is moot. There can be no debate. God did not Give us all this knowledge so we can pick and choose what is right and throw out the rest.”
And these are just from the blog article comments only – not reddit, not Facebook, not Google+ or any of the other places the article got linked. It seems, in order to have faith in a god, you must put away cognitive ability to think for yourself.
What I wondered was why? Why does evolution frighten the religious so much? Why does it make the religious profess their fervent belief in a god with so much force? And why are people so insistent that evolution is not true?
It boils down to faith. Religious faith. Dogmatic faith. A belief in gods or religion, which is not based on any sort of scientific theory or reasonable proof, but based on proved man-created ideology carefully crafted over the last few thousand years.
Martin Luther said: “Whoever wants to be a Christian should tear the eyes out of his reason.”
Religious faith is the belief that a god created all life, the earth, the sun, the water, the plants, the trees, the animals, and humans.
Religious faith is what is had when a mother stands over her feverish child, and instead of taking him to the doctor, prays for gods intervention. Faith that the child is in heaven when he dies because that mother prayed to god, did nothing to help him except pray, refused to take the child to a doctor, and since “god works in mysterious ways”, it is okay that he is fucking dead.
Religions preach faith to their sheep. One quick Google search brought up these (among thousands and thousands of results):
- Believe! Always have faith, trust god and believe that he supports you, even if you don’t feel him.
- Have faith in God.
- Have faith that Gods will is the right one.
- Have faith and pray.
- Faith is the way to the light of god.
- Faith prayer will cure you. Faith healing will heal you,
- Faith is what you must have in order to follow the teachings of the bible.
- Let Go and Let God
- Submit yourself to Jesus and be saved!
- Submit to God’s will, he shall know and lead you down the righteous path toward heaven.
My personal favorite: “Faith is not hoping god can. It is knowing he will.” (will… what? Cure cancer, AIDS, alzheimer’s, starvation, disease? Or help you win the lottery or get you an iPad?)
So why do people have religious faith? I see faith as submission to a god, a relinquishment of ones own ideas, ones own questions, ones own reason. It is the denial of self for the glory of a god. And it makes no sense to me at all!
I have pondered this article for weeks now and still can only come up with a few paltry reasons:
Submission— people want someone in charge of their lives – a god they can turn to in times of crisis, in times of need, in times of despair, and when the need arises, a god to grant their prayers – “cure my sickness and give me an iPod 4s. Some people have an incredible need to believe in something, even if it goes against all that is reasonably true. They submit their ideas, their very reason to a religion.
St. Ignatius Loyola said: “We should always be disposed to believe that which appears to us to be white is really black, if the hierarchy of the church so decides.”
St. Augustine said: “There is another form of temptation, even more fraught with danger. This is the disease of curiosity. It is this which drives us to try and discover the secrets of nature, those secrets which are beyond our understanding, which can avail us nothing and which man should not wish to learn.”
I don’t want to put away my own reason, my own curiosity, and I don’t want to submit myself to anyone or anything. Ever. Okay… once in a while I will submit to the irrational request by my boyfriend to see a really bad comedy movie, or to have Italian food when I am really in the mood for Chinese. That’s about as submissive as I get (much to his chagrin). But to allow anyone or anything to be in charge of my life, in charge of what I think? Uhh.. no.
Purpose — people want to think their individual lives have a higher purpose. They feel that everyone was born to have a specific purpose….to do something with meaning. By believing their lives have purpose, they have submitted themselves to a god to guide their lives, thoughts, and ideas. Nothing they do is their own.
“Why don’t you just kill yourself? If life doesn’t matter, if there is no higher purpose to it, rather than just existing for the moment, it doesn’t matter whether you die in 20 years, 50, or even 100. Just end it right? The reason I can see the true beauty of this world, the lasting beauty, is because I know that there is a higher purpose to living then just having a good time.”
Living a life without god can be quite hard for the religious to grasp. Religion gives people a sense of purpose in that god “has a plan”. Without that god and plan, purpose of life must be defined a slightly different way. I’ve read a lot of differing opinions, but this is mine:
- Living a life is the purpose of life
I exist because I was born. I will die, because death comes to us all. Everything in-between birth and death is the purpose. Life is momentary — all life is.
That’s really all there is to say about having a purposeful life. But my own personal ideology is this:
- Live my life with the full knowledge that I only have this life, this one life, to live, and to make it the best I can by doing what makes me and those I love happiest.
- Be the very best person, lover, friend, mother I can be, (I always try, even if sometimes I’m not all that great at it.)
- Learn something new every single day.
- Teach something to another person every single day
I admit that this is the hardest of everything about “faith” to let go of. When my best friend died, I was heartbroken (in some ways, I still am). It would have been incredibly wonderful to know that he was still around in heaven, and when I died, I’d get to see him again (and kick his ass for dying so fucking young). But since I don’t believe in mythological fairy tales, I have to deal with reality. Steve is dead. He’s gone. His laughter is gone. His penchant for all things pink and leathery is gone. Gone. All I will ever have of him are two books, a small picture, a cracked vase, and the memories I keep of him close to my heart. Because that is what people who have no faith do. Because that is what life is really about. Living in reality, without serving ourselves up to fairy tales, mythology, or bronze age religions.
What I think
My opinion on faith – it is not kind, it is not gentle, but it is the truth:
- Religious faith is the outright denial of reality, knowledge, experimentation, and all that we know to be provable and real.
- Religious faith is blind, deaf and dumb, except to it’s gods
- Religious faith is the enemy of curiosity, a reasonable and logical mind, of all humans, and should be discarded like the garbage it always shows itself to be.
Religions bind their faithful. It is the nature of itself. Some, like myself and other atheists I know, have this… inner freedom… this feeling of a heavy weight removed, simply because we know that this is the only life we have and make the best of every single day. We don’t have to have god to be happy, to be at peace with ourselves, our world, our place in the universe.
The faithful are bound to their god, bound to their religious text, and in their diminished view of all others. It severely limits how life is lived by placing tight constraints on the very thoughts and ideas we were born to have.
My most sincere hope for all that are faithful to religion is this:
I hope they can remove the bindings their faith has blinded them with.
The beauty of the world and the universe is so bright without being blinded by religious faithfulness to a god.