By Mark W. Gura & CW Brown
“What is history, but a fable agreed upon?” Napoleon Bonaparte
Imagine one day living in a village that worships Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent who created humans. You’re surrounded by an Aztec society that’s thousands of years old, your culture, your country, your family and friends all believe that the Aztec gods rule the universe and that sacrifices must be made on their behalf to please your family’s god. All seems solid, stable and true. There is no reason to doubt your worldview.
One day, men with white skin, beards, and swords come riding into town, armored, and on horseback. They are accompanied by men who carry crosses and seem to think that their god created humans. They create a civil war. Some of your kinsmen join them, and in a few years, these outsiders proceed to take over your world. They are armed with superior weapons, traitors, disease, and a weaponized religion ready for export. They proceed to smash all traces of your religion and install theirs into the hearts and minds of your friends, family, and into the babes who still reside in the womb. Your culture and religion are forever dashed to pieces. Gone forever and discredited.
As Dan Brown said, “History is written by the winners. When two cultures clash, the loser is obliterated, and the winner writes the history books which glorify their own cause and disparage the conquered foe.”
Is this a new phenomenon? Not really. Religions routinely take over other religions and discredit religions of the past. This has happened over and over throughout human history–and it will continue to occur. If gods were real and religions were true, this likely couldn’t happen. But since it is most likely that religions are figments of the human imagination, then it seems to be the case that those social-political powers wind up using religion as a weapon, to control the masses and destroy the old, bringing in the new, control the masses and indoctrinating hearts and minds. The Hindus did it and are still doing it. The Hebrews borrowed from the Mesopotamians and Egyptians and then smashed Canaanite idols, taking over Canaanite lands, culture, and religion. The Romans borrowed from the Greeks and did their best to screw over ever culture and religion they encountered. Christianity emerged from Judaism. It borrowed from European and ancient Egyptian faiths. Then it overran all sorts of cultures and religions, at the tip of the sword, by burning heretics alive, and through faux-love and proselytization. Islam smashed local desert religions, borrowed from Christianity and Judaism and created a niche in the Middle East that has now expanded all over the earth. Islam is now the fastest growing religion of all time.
Many facets shape our perception of reality. We are influenced by what we have been taught and by what we have been subjected to throughout our lives. Those who hold power shape our reality and our culture. Lack of education about history, the foundations of religion, and comparative religious studies hugely affect our perception of religion. Without knowing other points of view, religious people tend to believe that their religion is the only way and the only path, and they don’t understand that atheism is the most honest position because it requires facts, and faith is merely an opinion. The problem is that when many people don’t know the answers to important existential questions, they often make up the answers instead of admitting that they have faith in opinions and proclaim to be arbiters of ultimate truth. When this happens, history is challenged by assumptions that are not supported by evidence.
By the time you were eight years old, you probably realized that there is no evidence to support the supernatural claims made by Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism. But as long as your business and political leaders continue to invoke supernatural imaginary friends, and as long as they make decisions that affect all of us based on superstitious beliefs, then atheists must continue to speak up. Atheism is now fighting the indoctrination that has been foisted upon us by the conquistadors of old, the theistic governments of new, and by countries that are heavily influenced by fundamentalists everywhere, so this is a righteous cause. Keep on fighting!
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