Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A World Without Theism?

A reader at the Daily Dish replied to the atheist that I replied to yesterday. It's a really great read and I agree with most of his/her points (any emphasis mine):

To me, atheism is a scientific argument with moral ramifications. Theism is a theory that cannot be reasonably defended within the paradigm our natural world. Just like no scientist would give any consideration to people claiming that the sun revolves around the earth. It's not matter of ridicule. It matter of understanding hypothesis, observation, and conclusion. While this angers many religious folk as somehow condescending, most atheists like Dawkins are simply saying that based on our knowledge of the scientific method, one cannot argue that the world was created in seven days, or that water turned to wine, etc., etc. There is no malice intended. There is only frustration at the number of people who can selectively relax their notion of scientific rigor to allow for these supernatural beliefs.

Personally, I can understand anti-theism, and in many ways support it. The reason has nothing to do with superiority or snobbishness. It pains me in my heart to see the death and destruction that religion has caused throughout history. It gives me anxiety to look at my one-year old son and think that he'll be brought up in a society that doesn't see any link between the erosion of critical thinking and the increase in religiosity. People seem to need figures like bin Laden, Koresh, Hubbard, etc., so they can point fingers and proclaim them to be religious fanatics or "wackos". It makes the average moderate Christian/Muslim/Jew/Hindu feel better about their faith. As if the suspension of scientific thought that they exercise has absolutely nothing to do the extremism that is built on the same principle. I am not trying to lump everyone into the same group here, I'm just attempting to explain how a scientist views this general line of thinking as major threat to society. The slippery-est of slopes.

I sincerely believe that most atheism is spawned not out of hate and elitism, but out of love. Atheists like me have simply lost all faith that religion can exist without being used as a tool for justifying war and subjugation. If it could, even scientists that cringe at the thought of accepting supernatural beliefs would probably learn to coexist peacefully with theism, given that many beliefs system also catalyze acts of great compassion. But in the end, I'm torn as to which notion is more naïve and idealistic: a world without theism or world in which theism does not lead to human suffering.

1 comment:

MWorrell said...

I would just like to suggest that atheists and theists pointing fingers at one another over who is to blame for mankind's propensity to subjugate have missed the plain truth. We should all have lost any faith by now that human beings in general can exist without finding some convenient reason for justifying war and subjugation.

Basic human freedoms of speech and expression are our best defenses. Trying to categorize people into "good" and "bad", beyond where they infringe on the rights of others, is part of the problem.