Monday, June 22, 2009

Rational Religion

Confessions of a Lapsed Atheist

But Atheists aren't content to leave religion as a mere object of ridicule. They want it cleansed from public life. And enlightened as they are, they've come up with quite the pretense for justifying the righteousness of their bigotry: they are defending the vision of our Founding Fathers from a dominionist conspiracy to establish Christianity as the state religion.

You see, for liberal Atheists, the only thing worse than religion is the Religious Right, a term they use to encompass all Christian conservatives. And what better way to siphon fuel from the Religious Right than to convince Americans that the government is perpetually on the verge of becoming a theocracy?

And so, they accuse local governments of trampling the Constitution in the name of God and they find subliminal Christian iconography in political ads. They wring new meanings from Thomas Jefferson's notion of separation between church and state, and condemn our country's motto and the status of Christmas as a national holiday. But above all, Atheists stoke fear among religious and nonreligious alike that conservatives view government as a tool to force religion down your throat.

Speaking as a doubter, Christianity is a good thing in general for several reasons.

First, Judeo-Crhistian ideology provides a clear moral code to follow. This is very important as humans are not born with an innate understanding of right and wrong. Our instincts and need to nurture and protect one another are well and good, but a society requires more than that. We have to understand at an intellectual level why a moral or ethical code is best for the individual and group. We need to be trained to habituate just behavior. The Judeo Christian ethic assumes we are flawed, imperfectable, and will from time to time fail.

It is, imo, a rational and realistic understanding of humanity. Whereas the leftist ideal of the perfectibility of humankind is doomed to failure.

That brings me to my second reason. When a person believes in God, they are less likely to believe in some other faith based ideology like Marxism, Socialism, Environmentalism or Global Warming.... er, -ism. The vast majority of people have faith in something unprovable. A belief in something greater than themselves which appeals to their better nature.

Judeo-Christianity, as stated above, is benign. It accepts our imperfections, while encouraging us to be better, and offering the reward of life after death. Well and good. Non-religious belief systems are more pernicious, leading down the road of quite earthly tyranny.

Its no coincidence that Leftists of all stripes are hostile towards religion and often claim to be enlightened Atheists. Religion is a rival for the faith of followers. Religion is an alternative to the State for charity, social life and affection. Religion challenges foundational precepts of Leftist ideology - the perfectibility of humans. I'd bet money that the author's father's contempt for religion stemmed from his belief in a leftwing politics.

As pointed out by many thinkers in the past, many self-proclaimed non-believers don't simply not believe in God, but personally hate Him. It is my opinion that the very people who react most emotionally - anger, contempt, derision - towards religion do so for that very reason. Hostility is a symptom of something deeper, for example the adolescent desire to not be judged. A higher being who sees through all your evasions and darkest impulses is terrible concept to one whose public face is to strive for a more perfect world.

I have met several non-believers in my life who were not hostile towards religion. They have been uniformly NOT leftists, and accepted other people faith as a matter of personal conscience. Other people going to church and praying to God is hardly a bother to anyone else, so why be hostile towards religious people? Most of the criticisms of religion as violent, intolerant and benighted don't apply to America's mainstream religions, if they ever did. Funny how these same criticisms are not applied by the Left to genuine religious bigots.