Patheos has been buzzing with discussions on anti-theism since fellow blogger Martin Hughes officially announced he was no longer an anti-theist and even admitted to inventing his own version of a god to pray to when times got tough for him.
Like another fellow blogger, Kaveh Mousavi, I am unimpressed with his reasoning for abandoning anti-theism and invention of a god to pray to.
My humanism requires me to be an anti-theist.
Religion is dangerous and hurts real people. I strongly believe that when the world is reasoned out of religious faith, the world will be a much better place.
It won’t be perfect, but it will be leaps and bounds better.
Sure, some people claim that religious brings them peace and comfort, but it’s a lie. They are using religion as their crutch to peace and happiness, but it can either be replaced with something less harmful, such as Sunday Assembly, or by friends, family, or a new hobby.
The truth is, religion is harmful, it promotes faulty logic, a reliance on faith, and often times leads to bigotry, hate, discrimination, and even violence.
Sure, the violence and bigotry are not the mainstream in most religions, but they are generally the loudest and most impactful.
It’s the moderate religious that open the door for extremism.
On this issue, I agree with Richard Dawkins.
“It’s very important that we should not demonize ordinary, law-abiding, very decent Muslims which of course is the vast majority in this country,” Dawkins said in 2014.
He continued by saying, “What I do think about the difference, and let’s leave out Muslims specifically, but the difference between moderate religious people and extremist fundamentalists is that although of course, it’s only a tiny minority of any sect which is ever going to get violent or horrible, there is a sense in which the moderate, nice religious people — nice Christians, nice Muslims — make the world safe for extremists.”
Dawkins stated this position creates the illusion that there is something good about religion, and I think he is correct. It is not unheard of for moderates and even liberal Christians, Muslims, etc. to reject the acts of the extremists and claim that is not “their religion” all while ignoring it very much is their religion as it follows the same doctrines and holy books.
He went on to say that it leads people to believe in things without evidence and never need to justify their claims, “They’re entitled simply to say ‘oh that’s my faith, I believe it, you’re not allowed to question it and you’re not allowed to ask me why I hold it.”
So how does this not apply to the extremist side of the same religion? If one cannot question someone’s belief because they defend it by claiming it takes faith, how are they able to condemn someone else for saying the same thing? Using faith as a source of knowledge can lead to very extreme truth claims, and Dawkins does not appear wrong to draw a parallel between moderate and extremists beliefs based on faith.
“Once you teach people that that’s a legitimate reason for believing something then you as it were give a license to the extremists who say, ‘My belief is that I’m supposed to be a suicide bomber or I’m supposed to blow up buildings — it’s my faith and you can’t question that.’”
I am against all faith. I try, as hard as I can, to live a life without it. Am I always perfect at this? Of course not. I do, however, try.
I strive to accept things based on the best evidence available and not hold positions that rely solely on my wishing them to be true.
I am anti-pseudoscience, I am anti-alternative medicine, etc. I hold positions against dangerous ideas that cost people their lives, money, and well-being.
So if I am opposed to all of those, it only makes sense that I would oppose religious faith to the same degree and be an anti-theist.
I want people’s lives to be improved. I want violence between religious groups to stop. I want families torn apart by religion reunited. (I’m looking at you Scientology).
I want to end religious bigotry against the LGBTQ community, women’s rights, and the whole lot.
This can’t be done by denouncing anti-theism and pretending that religion can play a positive role in people’s lives. Religion plays that role as an illusion and we know it can be replaced with something better.
That something better is reality.
[Parts of this article have been published previously]