Religion. It’s 2017 and we’re still telling our imaginary friend that we’re not worthy of him, that we’d die for him, that our children are born imperfect (sometimes to the point of mutilation at birth) and need his help. Seriously, what’s wrong with us?! It’s a long one this (there’s a vicar joke in there somewhere).

I will be writing a second part to this, answering any questions people have (as best I can), so please comment below if you have anything to contribute!

Religion: preface

Ok let me just get this part out of the way first. If anything in here offends you then it’s not my intention, and it’s not my fault. If you believe in something so vehemently but you grow angry when someone questions you, then take a long look at yourself and ask yourself why you’re scared of the questions. Is it because you have no real-world answer? I respect everyone (until they give me a reason not to) but I do not respect religion, why would I? Concepts have to earn respect.

It’s very common for people to voice their differences in opinion on politics and I see this as no different. So…

Religion as a concept

I’m an atheist. I’m not a hipster militant elitist atheist, but I’ve actually thought about it and this is where I’ve ended up after careful consideration. Contrast that to religious folk who were just brought up that way and have an intrinsic doubt that they will deny with all of their being. It’s uncomfortable.

There is no other option for me when the alternative is to believe unconditionally without any reason or evidence – why would anyone do that? Saying this usually invites a shake of the head and a roll of the eyes from believers, as if I’m the unreasonable one. As if I’m bringing up an old tired cliché (which, by the way, would disappear if you would just provide an answer to it).

A big ask

If I’m to believe in an idea of this magnitude then I’m going to need some proof. Anything, no matter how small. To simply say “you have to have faith” is weak, and means nothing. I’ve had countless conversations with people about this. At the very first sign of questions, religious people would get angry, defensive, hostile even. “YOU WON’T SHAKE MY FAITH” they cry. Calm down mate, I’m not trying to. I simply asked you what you mean when you say “you should open your eyes and let the light of God in”. It’s a pretty ambiguous statement to make, don’t you think? It doesn’t have any actual meaning.

The indefensible nature of religion is what causes religious people to be offended in the first place. If an idea can’t stand up to the most fundamental of questions (like “why?”) then is it really an idea worth considering? If someone were to question my belief that water was two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen then I’d point them in the direction of where to confirm it. I certainly wouldn’t get offended.

“Billions of people can’t be wrong”

With over 4,000 religions, each believing they’re right, it stands to reason that at least 3,999 are wrong in any religious person’s eyes. I simply think that all 4,000 are wrong. There is 0.025% difference between me and the most devout of religious people where beliefs are concerned.

We indoctrinate our children at an early impressionable age with our religious ideologies. That’s chiefly how it’s propagated. They ask fewer questions and the undeveloped mind leaves them open to crystallising the beliefs before they get a chance to doubt it (Santa Claus, easter bunny, tooth fairy etc…).

I’ve often, out of genuine interest, asked people why they follow the religion that they do. “But why that God?” I ask. “Why not Thor, or Zeus, Valhalla?”. I’m usually met with “Oh don’t be stupid”, which is an incredible response really – what makes their god any more probable? They’ve blindly followed that one god and dismissed thousands of other religions – probably without exploring their ethos or reading their scriptures. That’s hypocritical. It’s myopic.

So, yes, billions of people can indeed be wrong. If you’re a follower of any religion at all then you’re literally saying that billions of people are wrong.

If you don’t believe in God, where do you get your morals?

Certainly not from subscribing to a system that would have me tell my daughter she is anything but perfect. I refuse to tell her that she was born a sinner and must thank God, constantly and tirelessly for everything. She can marvel in her successes when she tries hard, and learn from her failures when she fails. It’s all on her – there is no divine intervention.

I mean – God, why bother setting all of this up if we just have to praise you all the time?! To be honest, you’ve done a bit of a shit job anyway, all things considered. There’s disease, famine, poverty, war, terrorism, murder. All this because Eve took a metaphorical bite from that bloody apple. Get a grip son, you’re no Steve Jobs.

I find it ironic that religious people ask this question about morals. It’s as if they only have morals out of fear of punishment come judgement day. I have morals because I know right from wrong, and I act on that. If you want a blatant lack of morals then read religious scripture. We have a 50 year old Mohammed marrying a six year old Aisha, we have Moses ordering the killing of men, non-virgin women and male children (sparing the virgin girls – Numbers 31:17-18 “Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man”. Top bloke, I’m glad they named a basket after you).

But THE POWER OF PRAYER, MARK!

Prayer never has and never will work. I’m willing to be proved wrong here, but there’s that word again, PROOF. Prove to me that it’s worked and I’ll admit it, until then I’ll put it down to chance and entropy.

I tweeted this recently, and was met with a lot of replies saying how prayer had worked for them. They claimed that I’d probably see it as luck, or coincidence. Well, yes – I would. Someone replied saying that prayer helped her and her son through an abusive relationship – possibly on a psychological level it did, but I don’t think God had a hand in that. I think her courage did that.

I was told to try it and see for myself. “Ok” I said, “I will. I will vehemently pray for the cure of all cancer overnight”.

“That’s unrealistic” I was told. Right then, at least we’ve set some expectations here for what He’s capable of. For someone who has control over the universe, from every unfathomable subatomic particle to the vast distances of space where light itself can take billions of years to permeate, I don’t think curing cancer is that much of an ask. I mean, look what he did in 6 days. Cancer is a glitch in the matrix for this guy.

Just because someone won a fridge in a competition a month after hers had broken, it doesn’t mean there’s an omnipresent creator with a plan for us and her frozen foods.

The issue is, religious people go to church each week and sit in an echo chamber, reinforcing the belief.

religious people go to church each week and sit in an echo chamber, reinforcing the belief. Click To Tweet

The divine (housing) plan

Earlier this year someone on my facebook feed was asking people to pray that her housing application would be accepted. Wow – I’m pretty sure God, if he existed, wouldn’t meddle with such small fish. Would he? I’d rather he clicked his fingers and fed a starving family in Africa first. Maybe eliminated AIDS between tuning in to see masses of people begging him for attention.

A few days later I saw this:

Children and religion
Statements like this strike me as unintelligent at best

So they prayed and her housing application was approved. Ergo – there is a god, and he works in the council offices, apparently.

What about other people that prayed for theirs to be accepted but were denied? Perhaps they called when he was on a toilet break.

Beyond a reasonable doubt

The judicial system in civilised countries (so not including unspecified-istan) works on a system of evidence. If someone is to be convicted of something, it has to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s logically and morally the right course of action.

Why, then, do people believe in a creator when “reasonable doubt” isn’t even part of the equation? It comes down to that faith issue again, but that’s a cop out. If someone wants to convince me that there is a God then the burden of proof is on them.

If someone wants to convince me that there is a God then the burden of proof is on them. Click To Tweet

People say “I don’t have to prove anything to you” and it’s clear they can’t justify it. And yes, they do need to justify it. Otherwise it’s a bit mental. They’re talking about a magic man in the sky. They absolutely have to justify believing in him.

If belief were founded on the absence of proof of the contrary, then ANYONE could claim ANYTHING. I could invent my own god and nobody could prove he didn’t exist. They literally could not prove he was fabricated. It must be true, right? What if I had a book that said it, and kids were taught it in school? See where I’m going with this?

Amen to that

I’ve already gone over 1,600 words so I’ll end it here with this one suggestion:

Leave religion out of everyones’ life until their 21st birthday.

How long do you think religion would last? My guess is that it’d last a generation, two at most. Try telling an adult about making humans from clay, woman from a rib, talking snakes, zombie messiahs and magic apples and see how long it lasts…

Let me know what you think in the comments. As mentioned – I’ll be responding to comments via another post – so please do leave a comment if you feel you have something too say. If you’re a believer then steer away from the typical “Christ is our creator and shall be worshipped, I am not worthy, leave people to believe what they want” remarks.

Hit me with actual tangible evidence to substantiate your beliefs.