Religious believers often tell me that atheism is my religion and even some atheists claim that they would not want religion eliminated because atheism is their identity and without religion to argue against they would lose that identity. Is atheism my religion and my identity? Wouldn’t I want to stop the elimination of religion to preserve my identity?
If I were a math teacher, would I want to not teach math because if everyone knew that 1+1 really equals 2, then I would be out of a job. So if I were a math teacher, I would actually not want to teach math, right? Obviously not.
Yes, atheism is my identity but it isn’t my religion. However, I would gladly lose my identity as an atheist if that meant that tomorrow morning everyone woke up and realized that all religions were silly superstitions. Then everyone would be an atheist and being an atheist would have no meaning. But what the fuck would I blog about?
Well, there are many other forms of irrationality I could blog about but I think I would probably move beyond atheism to futurism. The whole reason why I write about atheism in the first place is because I want to make the world a better place and advance humanity. It occurred to me in college that religion is a threat to human happiness, human prosperity, and human survival on this planet. How can humanity advance if over half of the American public and probably about the same percentage of humans on this planet reject the science of evolution and the big bang because of their superstitious religious beliefs?
Think about how many people in the world hate gays because their religion tells them being gay in a sin and that gay people are abominations to God. Think about how many people in the world treat women as subservient to men because they believe their magical deity created woman as man’s helper from his rib bone. Sure not all religious believer believe this nonsense literally, but enough of them do. Those are just two examples of how religion threatens human happiness.
When we talk about science, religious believers are often quick to point out that there are sciences who believe in God. What they fail to point out is that there are very few scientists who believe in god and even fewer who believe in a personal god like the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Plus like I said before, many religious believers reject basic scientific theories in favor of ridiculous religious beliefs. God and faith are real curiosity busters and often get in the way of scientific advancements. The fact is that religion has a long history of fighting against scientific discoveries and even though many religious believers now accept scientific facts like evolution, they did so kicking and screaming the whole way. It was only a few decades ago that the Pope comically apologized to Galileo.
When we talk about the future, far too many religious believers care more about their imaginary afterlife than they do about the world after their life. We see many fundamentalist Christians excited about the prospect of an apocalypse heralding the return of Jesus. We see fundamentalist Muslims so excited about 72 virgins that they actually blow themselves and others up. And we see fundamentalist Jews who just seem to want time to stand still to the point where their funny haircuts are still cool. For the record, they never were and never will be. Seriously, this is a threat to human prosperity. How the fuck can we advance as a species with such backward thinking people holding us back with their ridiculous superstitions.
And then there is climate change. You don’t see fundamentalist atheists arguing against the science of climate change. No, nearly all of the science denialism on the subject of climate change comes from fundamentalist religious believers. In fact, I even hear religious believers tell me that the extreme weather we are seeing isn’t a result of climate change, but rather is a sign of the end times and the return of Jesus. Some are actually excited about the extreme weather for this reason.
And then there are religious extremists who use twenty-first century weaponry to preserve their twelfth century beliefs. I’m looking at you ISIS, or ISIL, the so-call “so-called Islamic State,” or whatever your name is. Science might create new and terrible weapons, but make no mistake it will be religious fundamentalists who will use them to preserve their ridiculous beliefs against the evil forces of reality.
So yes, I think it would be awesome if I no longer had to write blogs exposing these horrifically dangerous and ridiculous beliefs because no one believed them anymore. I would gladly sacrifice my atheist identity if it meant that humanity could take a giant leap forward by leaving these ancient superstitions behind.
Then we can talk more about solar energy and space exploration. We could discuss and debate the best ways to transition our economy to better serve the needs of everyone. We could talk about how to use all that money that we had previously wasted on religion to help make the world a better place.
No, all the problems of the world won’t magically disappear if religious beliefs were abandoned tomorrow, but many, many, many of the world’s problems would disappear and we could start focusing much more on the problems we still have left. The world would be vastly better off if everyone woke up tomorrow and realized that their religious beliefs were silly, ridiculous, and dangerous. I would still be an atheist, but atheism would no longer be my identity. I would shift that identity beyond atheism toward humanism and futurism. I would still have plenty of stuff to write about and but the world would be vastly better off.