Whence Cometh Religion?

5 01 2009

At the risk of sounding like the prototypical arrogant atheist I’ll throw in my two cents.

It’s all about the unknown.

It seems understandable that once we as a species reached that higher plane of self awareness that we could not help but strive to understand the unknowable. Upon failing to figure it all out right away we naturally resorted to just explaining everything unknown with glib stories that put our minds at rest so we could stop fretting and get back to productive living.

Alas even after so many generations it seems little has really changed.

While we now collectively understand orders of magnitude more than our ancient ancestors there is still much out there we do not, and it still terrifies us. Death of course is the big one and without our mystical stories it scares many of us right back into the churches of our parents in our continuing quest for solace through an artificial sense of control over the unknown.

Unfortunately for the skeptical and thoughtful seeking god, those original old myths don’t work as well as they used to. Without herculean levels of faith and suspension of disbelief those hollow tales, even selectively chosen, cannot stave off the inevitable feelings of insecurity and doubt.

So while I recognize that Atheism frequently sounds overly self certain and strident to those of faith it is perhaps ironic because it is the very embracing of the unknown that brings (for me at least) the most comfort. Being allowed to concede that we don’t know everything means there is always more that we can learn. If there is more we can learn then there is more we can change, more we can do, more that we can become. When we force ourselves to believe the stories of a creator we are constrained by the rules and perceived limitations that come with such mystical beliefs. We pray for things instead of working harder to figure it out and do it for ourselves.

Happily we are not controlled by the stars nor our fate destined by the lines on our hands. We are free to make this word better if we can muster up our collective courage, shed the limitations and biases of the multitude of ancient myths that constrain us and instead choose to move forward together instead of fighting progress every step of the way.

PS: I am sure that the faithful often view my skepticism as indications that I’m angry or bitter.  I wish I knew how to convincingly assure them that I’m not.  That said I like to think that on both sides we have the best of intentions at heart. The faithful nobly slave to save my soul while I in turn honorably strive to free their minds through the miracle of rational thought. The battle rages on, sadly, with no resolution yet in sight.  Of course I like to think that all the supporting evidence is on my side but so far that hasn’t proven persuasive to those of stubborn faith.

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10 responses

5 01 2009
Chris

Sounds more like agnosticism.

5 01 2009
Barbara

So, you wouldn’t be interested in a Palm Reading or Tarot? Or maybe a talking donkey? Sheesh, everything has to be the hard way with you. Reality, reason, SCIENCE…….why can’t you just let it all go and enjoy the nature of the delusion for CHRIST’s sake!? ;-S

5 01 2009
Chris

I just had a discussion with someone regarding the moral code of atheists. He said he’d never vote for a politician that called himself atheist, because he wouldn’t have the morality of someone who calls himself Christian. After he defined moral code as described in the Ten Commandments, I asked how he felt about voting for McCain, as he broke two of the Commandments when he divorced his wife for a younger, richer, more attractive woman.
There was no answer.
Religious people always suffer from cognitive dissonance, it seems.

5 01 2009
Hipple, Rev. Paul T.

It is just so typical of the Godless to get it exactly and precisely backwards. The Religion of God exists not so that people would find comfort and solace, but rather that so God could impose His Will upon His creation.

5 01 2009
Barbara

@Hipple, Rev. Paul T. (
And this is so typical of a man who wants to impose his will using the God delusion to justify it. Beat any women down lately, Rev. or just smack ’em around a little to they learn their place at the table? Such a cute website.

7 01 2009
Chris

God imposes his will upon his creation?

How exactly does that work with free will? Or did God create mindless drones? I’m a little confused here.

7 01 2009
SuperJesus

I don’t know but looking at Hipple’s site he seems pretty over the top, but not quite enough to scream parody. Tough call if he’s real or just a Betty Bowers/Landover Baptist wannabe. Either way it’s great stuff he’s slinging there.

9 01 2009
Hipple, Rev. Paul T.

Brother or Sister Chris-

FYI, this concept of free will is little more than dogmatic papist tripe spread by Catholics.

The True Christians, those who’s souls have been Chosen, are non-relationalists. Non-Relationalists are free only in the sense that they can choose to reject His Mercy and instead embrace the alternative at a heavy cost–an eternity in the Hell Fire.

Not much of a choice, I’m sure you’d agree. Hardly what you would call free.

9 01 2009
Chris

Sounds like his mercy only comes if and only if you supplicate to his will. I’m not sure I’d trust that option either.

I’ll stick with the hellfire option, with the chance of appealing to Satan’s more humorous nature.

19 01 2009
culturepress

Superjesus — this is very nicely written.

“We pray for things instead of working harder to figure it out and do it for ourselves…. We are free to make this word better if we can muster up our collective courage, shed the limitations and biases of the multitude of ancient myths that constrain us and instead choose to move forward together instead of fighting progress every step of the way…” Couldn’t agree with you more.

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