• A World Without Religion

    Dt-logoI usually tend to agree with Hemant Mehta of the Friendly Atheist on most issues, but sometimes he says something that I disagree with. Recently, he said something that I really disagreed with and quite frankly find bizarre. As part of his Atheist Voice series he answers the question, would you want to live in a world where everyone is an atheist. Here is the video:

    Mehta says no, he would not want to live in a world in which everyone was an atheist. He states that atheism is part of his identity and if everyone was an atheist, then he wouldn’t have that identity anymore. Well, with all due respect, boo fucking hoo!

    Would I want to live in a world where everyone was an atheist? OF COURSE!!!! Let me clarify this a little bit. I don’t think we should go around and purge all religious believers the way historically they have attempted to do to non-believers (and in some cases still attempt to do). But if I could live in a world where everyone has been educated to the point where religious is viewed in the same way our current society views psychics or those who believe that Elvis is still alive, I would live in that world in a second – my atheist identity be damned.

    Look, like Hemant, I love being an atheist and it is a strong part of my identity but if everyone were an atheist I would make Humanism my identity and still advocate for that. There will always be things to disagree about, but if we can eliminate the really, really, ridiculous and dangerous ones, I would be super happy.

    I’m willing to take the hit and lose my atheist identity if it means that the world would be a much, much, better place. Put me on the metaphorical cross and call it a sacrifice, but please let’s stop having to debate the truth-value of ancient texts and start having more real debates about string theory or how best to solve economic disparage. Instead of wasting resources fighting against the religious right on every step of medical, technological, ethical, and social progress, we could use those resources to actually make more progress.

    If religious believers all realized tomorrow that their beliefs were all bullshit, the world would be much better. Churches might even stay open and continue to do the same community and charitable work that they do now, but without the religious bullshit. They would merely become secularized institutions with a new focus on making THIS world better instead of preaching about the next world. Hell, they might even get more money in donations because at the end of the day, people want to help each other live better lives more than they want to help themselves get into paradise.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love getting into discussions with religious believers. I find those discussions entertaining and enjoyable. When Jehovah’s Witnesses come to my door, they are the ones who try to end the conversation; not me. So I would certainly miss having those conversations but I would be able to have new conversations about better things. When I go to Atheist Meetups, I have awesome conversations about politics, science fiction, science non-fiction, philosophy, and many other topics. Those conversations are fun too. Many times we talk about how to make the world a better place and that is a way more enjoyable conversation than whether or not there is an invisible man in the sky who “divinely inspired” a book two thousand years ago.

    To me, this is an obvious answer to the question and I have to say that I am shocked that Hemant answered it differently. I just don’t think he thought that one through. Even if we were to just have a city, state, or country that was filled with atheists I think that geographic region would achieve a better quality of life than religious regions. Of course, atheists did try this once and Christians came in to preach their Jesus. Atheists then kicked them out and were forced to become kind of fascists in the process. But assuming Christians couldn’t just come in and mess it all up, I think whatever the geographic region would be much better off without theists.

    Let me give an example. When I moved to my current area, the school district was rated 7 out of 10. Now, we let religious right Republicans control the school board and our school district is rated 3 out of 10. You can argue that this is politics, but it has more to do with religion in my opinion. When you let people who reject the science of evolution control the science classes, we shouldn’t be surprised that education suffers. When you let people who believe faith is more of a priority than reason and that education is a threat to their indoctrination, then obviously education is going to suffer.

    Imagine if we had a school board of scientific minded atheists — people who truly value education and who want to encourage critical thinking and scientific progress. We wouldn’t have to fight about censoring Harry Potter because some people believe it is demonic. We would be fighting about the effectiveness of various teaching methods and optimal class sizes.

    So yeah, I would like to live in a world without religious believers. That would be awesome. Atheism obviously won’t solve all the world’s problems, but it would be a huge start. There would still be things to argue about and I would have to change my personal identity slightly, but fuck yeah I would pick that world in a heartbeat. Wouldn’t you?

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    Article by: Staks Rosch

    Staks Rosch is a writer for the Skeptic Ink Network & Huffington Post, and is also a freelance writer for Publishers Weekly. Currently he serves as the head of the Philadelphia Coalition of Reason and is a stay-at-home dad.

    18 comments

    1. Given all the acrimony and divisiveness in the so-called atheist movement lately I certainly wouldn’t want to live in a world solely of atheists. Just like the old religious wars of
      Europe and Sunni/Shiite divide in modern Islam you’d see different factions battling for supremacy, each claiming they and only they are right. Never happen? Human nature doesn’t change, my friend. I’ll pass on world atheism.

      1. Don’t be ridiculous. Of course there is divisiveness and infighting within the atheist community, but that doesn’t mean that a world with religion (which is far, far, more divisive) would be preferable. That’s like saying that because England and France have disagreements, that it would be better to live in a world with Nazi Germany.

        A world with only atheists is still going to magically make the world a paradise, but it would be a huge start!!! Religion makes the world much more violent and hateful. It is an obstacle to human happiness, human progress, and human survival. A world without it would be so much more preferred that it isn’t even a valid question. Of course it would be better to get rid of ridiculous and dangerous beliefs on insufficient evidence.

    2. I will happily jettison the atheist part of my identity the moment it is no longer necessary or meaningful. A world without religious belief sounds good and I wouldn’t turn it down. At the same time, I don’t see myself as working to eradicate religion as much as trying to advance education, critical thinking, and secularism.

    3. I agree, the usefulness in the atheist identity is the hope of one day jettisoning it. It’s not important to my identity because it is essentially negative. Science, skepticism, reason, empathy, rationality.. those are important to my identity.

      Living in Germany gave me a tiny preview of what post-religious society is like. Not perfectly of course.. but almost none of the Germans I met, dated, befriended etc.., gave a damn about religion. They also weren’t interested in identifying loudly as “atheists”… it simply wasn’t an issue for them. It was wonderful. Nothing was lost in the translation.

    4. A world without religon? Are you insane?!?!
      Where do you think the founding principles of morality came from?

      Now that I have my rant over with I just wanna make the point I was trying to say but I didn’t since I’m a terrible writer or whatever. People say a athiest world would be more peaceful, that everyone would just be very moral and optimistic. Where was that morality when my atheistic father beat me to unconsciousness as a child? Where was that optimism when my brother decided to commit suicide because of harassment? WHERE WAS POSITIVE ATHIEST MORALS WHEN I WAS RAPED IN A BACK ALLEY?!!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

      Where did I find solace from my horrible atheistic lifestyle? Religon. Christianity has opened doors for me too meet wonderful people and have something I can find peace in. Granted that not all Christians are as morally right as they should be, I still find that my life after I became Christian has become much better.

      1. I also want to add that atheism isn’t a belief system. It is a lack of belief system. I’m sorry that there have been people in your life who did horrible things to you, but that had nothing to do with them being atheists. Plenty of people have horrible things done to them by religious believers. The difference is that the religious believers get away with it because they justify their horrible actions with their religious text or beliefs. The Bible has no problem with rape for example. According to the Bible, if you rape a woman, you have damaged a man’s property and have to pay the price. If the woman was unmarried, then you either have to pay her father a sub a money or marry her (yes, the Bible says that a rapist should marry the woman he raped). If the woman is married, then the rapist has to pay the husband for damaging his property. Is this where you get your morals from? I sure don’t and I hope you don’t either.

        Today, many atheists are forming communities in which we value humanistic ideals. But as you have pointed out, not everyone who lacks a belief in deities share those same humanistic ideals. although most vocal atheists do.

        I hope you will consider looking into secular humanism. If you are looking for a community, the Society of Ethical Culture would be a great place to start. They are like church but without the make-believe.Google them.

    5. I don’t think a world without religion is likely, because not everyone sees the world like you may, Ray Lewis and Richard Dawkins had a chat about this, this was in one of Dawkin’s films. I think Mr Lewis had a point, I’m not a religious and god doer myself.

      1. It isn’t about whether or not a world without religion is likely; it is about whether or not such a world would be desirable. I say fuck yes it would be desirable! What do you think?

    6. The Dark Ages is a categorization commonly used to describe the period between the fall of the Roman Empire and the beginning of the Italian Renaissance and the Age of Exploration. Roughly speaking, the Dark Ages corresponds to the Middle Ages, or from 500 to 1500 CE. Not the fight of my religion, we were just a part of it to protect our home.

      1. I don’t know if you know this or not, but during the “Middle Ages,” The Catholic Church had almost unlimited political power. People who would not conform to the wishes of the Church were often tortured and murdered. Scientific advancement plummeted. During this time, the Pope was more powerful than most kings. So yes, there was a time when religion (the Catholic Religion) controlled nearly everything and yes, we now call that period the Dark Ages.

      1. I have a BSED in Social Studies. You can check out any history book and it will tell you about the Dark Ages. You can even look it up online from any reputable history website. These are the facts. The Catholic Church was incredibly powerful during that time in human history in that area of the world. They often tortured and murdered not only non-Catholics, but even other Catholics who weren’t lockstep with the Church. They invented the worst kinds of torture devices you can’t even imagine. This is history and those who ignore it are dooming us all to repeat it. Whenever religion controls society, it is always a bad thing.

    7. I would live in an atheist world in a heartbeat! As a “born-again” Christian turned atheist, I can see how devestatingly harmful religion has been to the world. Any good that may have resulted from religion has far been outweighed by the divisiveness and atrocities caused by religion.
      I find many aspects of religion to be highly immoral and harmful to the human psyche.

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