wow, thank you very much for taking the time to comment on what i wrote. you are right i do not believe in any kind of deity but i consider myself connected to all life and all matter, my research into quantum physics has sparked my idea that the oneness in the universe is what most people pass off as the feeling of god. and now through quantum physics and astronomy and other forms of sciene, many of the mysteries in the universe are quickly being solved all in one human lifetime(isn’t it amazing how much our technology has grown in the last 100 years? i’m always astonished by the amount of information people are presented with on a daily basis and i think it must be substantially more than the average person living in the 1800s). this overload of information can be a good thing or it can be a horrifying thing. it can either lead one to expand his own mind and gain a better understanding of the world around him or it can drive that person over the limits of his minds ability to comprehend, and this is what i believe to be the cause in the dramatic rise in mental health problems in the last 20-30 years. and i think there are two possible endings to this age of information, either we will evolve to be able to accept more information and have a revolution of the mind which will cause the real “enlightenment” age or we will slowly degenerate because we will be so overloaded with mental health problems, fear, and an inability to comprehend the world. there, of course, could be some middle ground and i believe its entirely possible that a new species of humans could come from this and the homo sapien could go the way of the neanderthal, in fact, if history is any guide, i find this to be the most likely theory.
your statement about “deciding” to believe or not believe brings up some very interesting ideas. first of all, most religions view agnostics, athiests and the like to choose this path. i feel as if i had no control of choosing one way or the other and i understand your point very well. people are presented with different ideas, situations and experiences in their life and you can only make a rational decision about the world based on your own observations of the world. someone who doesn’t believe in a god has been presented evidence that contradicts the “belief” in a god or more often than not they have NOT been presented evidence that confirms the existence of a god or gods. in fact the most ironic thing to me about religion is how such a great majority of the world believes in the existence of a god yet none of them have been presented with any substantian evidence that one exists. and the fact that there are thousands of different religions and sub-religions only goes to show how hypocritical the belief in a god is. there is a quote from one of my favorite movies (what the bleep do we know?) and it goes something like this (i know i’m going to butcher it) “How can one little carbon based life-form in the backwaters of the milky way galaxy believe that he can sin against an all-mighty god?… the height of human arrogance are those that create god in their own image” this is something that i feel deeply and it really makes me want to spread this knowledge through all society. wouldn’t people live happier, more fulfilling lives if they weren’t in constant fear of god and sin. i understand that this country was built on a freedom of religion (although the christian right is trying to change that), but i feel like i am constantly bombarded with people trying to convince me to be a christian. how many tv channels play evangelical propaghanda 24/7? i know i have at least 4 such channels, and not one channel is dedicated to any other religion or athiesm for that matter. or how about radio stations, there are at least 3 that i can tune into at any time at my house and all of them are christian. i also use to work at a fine dining really upscale french restaurant as a chef and every sunday night a catholic priest would come in and eat a 5 course meal and get silly off scotch, his bill would average between $150-$300 depending on how much scotch he drank or if he ordered a nice bottle of wine, he doesn’t get paid by the state and he doesn’t have a part time job, all of this money would come out of the hat that gets passed around at each service he held, now i made pretty good money there working around 50 hard hours a week but i couldn’t afford to spend that much money every week on one meal so exactly how much money do these glorified beggars actually make? and why does christianity have so much financial backing?
well in conclusion i wish there were an organization that could promote athiesm the way christianity is promoted but i don’t really see something like that happening but we do have some good news, in america, all forms of christianity are declining in popularity while agnostic and athiesm are growing so there is some hope for my “mind revolution” after all. i am totally fine with you publishing anything that i wrote to you and thanks for your insightful comments.
I think that one of the major problems with the “information overload” you talk about is that people are not used to having to separate truth from fiction from partial truth on such a regular basis. We are much more accustomed to learning in sound bites. This is why, for example, quantum physics is used so often by people who are promoting the supernatural — it’s weird, it’s not intuitive, and it can be described in ways that sound mystical (and I’m not saying that this is what you are doing, by the way).
You’re right that religions tend to speak in terms of atheists choosing atheism, rejecting God, or turning their back on the church. For some atheists, this is exactly what they do, but they are not all atheists and, in fact, they are generally not the most intellectually rigorous atheists.
You talk about people not having substantial evidence that God exists. Many religious people would disagree with you. Some believe that the world around us has significant evidence of design. Others have a strong feeling that God exists (as you mention). They consider these significant evidence (although we could quibble about whether it’s “substantial”).
I disagree with the quote that it is the height of arrogance to create God in humanity’s image. I think it’s natural to imagine a deity as having human qualities, and I think that most people who are trying to imagine what they would do if they were God would imagine themselves creating creatures that look like them (just as we imagine scientists making robots that look like people, even though that’s not necessarily practical).
Would people live happier, better lives if they were not in fear of God and sin? That’s going to vary from person to person. There are enough religious people who don’t seem to fear the wrath of God at all that I wonder if it would make much of a difference. I think that much more than just religious thought would have to change to make significant progress.
Let me comment on your story about the Catholic priest. The priests and ministers I know don’t make a lot of money. Priests in particular often don’t own their own homes, and to my knowledge they get no retirement benefits. Some priests, because they live in a rectory, may have more disposable cash than an average person with their income, but they aren’t exactly living “high on the hog.” I don’t know how the priest you spoke of afforded such expensive meals every week, but I doubt it’s because he’s got an exorbitant salary (and I welcome comments from any of my readers who know more about this than I do).
I agree that it would be great if there were a big organization that promoted atheism. There are a number of organizations, but none that have Catholic-church-style size or resources. I think part of the problem is that atheists tend to be less organized and less vocal in their beliefs than religious people. I’m hoping that my blog is doing a little bit to help correct that.
In: Anti-religion, Dealing with religious folks