Sunday, 6 November 2016
10 Years On
It is almost 10 years since I abandoned religious belief. The time since has been a story of intellectual recovery, of reviewing much of what I previously held to be true about reality. I can honestly say that despite the loss of several close friendships, I do not regret taking the hard road rather than the easy one. I have been on a journey, a voyage of the mind and I have visited realms previously alien to me. I consider myself a freethinker, an atheist, and remain critical of the value of religious belief. I genuinely hold that it hinders more than helps, stultifies more than it advances, and I worry that it continues to hold humanity captive to notions and modes of behaviour that we should have jettisoned a long time ago. Take morality for example. Morality isn’t complicated in its basic form. If you want to lead a moral life then you need do little more than seek to minimise harm. Seek not to harm others, and see how far that gets you. You’ll be surprised. Religion, I put to you, is good for absolutely nothing. The central claims of all religions are largely nonsensical and disproving the pitiful claims of Islam or Christianity is trivially easy. Better instead to stand with a free mind and appraise this remarkable vista we call existence. Taste it, reflect upon it, be open to the myriad experiences this life offers you. Don’t be held captive by turgid ancient ideology, but plough your own furrow and live a life of experiment and open mindedness. Belief in God is absurd. It is pure Monty Python. Other than making the concept of death more palatable I really cannot for the life of me see what it brings. The amount of time people commit to it continues to leave me open mouthed. And if you want to tell me that sans religion we would have no basis to be good, then I suggest that holding such view says something quite unpleasant about you. I don’t think for a second that the average believer would go on a rampage if they woke up tomorrow faithless. They would probably continue to live broadly similar lives, and if they did suddenly undertake a Viking style rampage of raping and pillaging then I’d have to suspect that they were only reigning it in to begin with. Oh to be sure I am more blunt these days. I don’t suffer fools. And nor do I extend one iota of respect to the kindly majority whom want to believe that Jesus or the Prophet are the only way to true goodness. Plain silliness, people. Use reason as your primary arbiter, as this will help you assess your impulses. I worry that we continue to give such respect to religious belief, and that we continue to give these binary and ancient ideas such credibility. We could jettison the whole religious shit show and we would still have every capacity to build upon the values that have evolved through the course of our ancestral journey. We are better than religion. Better than our tiny Gods. Better than the stupid rituals and dictates and bronze age infantilism. Humanity needs to grow up and grow out of such lowly, anti rational thinking. We can do better. We can be more. We owe it to ourselves to do so.