28th March 2013

“Atheists have long been telling us that we can be good without God. The new atheism says that we can be better without God.”

Victor Stenger

7 Responses to “28th March 2013”

  1. The Heretic Says:

    At least we have the freedom to try.

  2. Capt'Z Says:

    I would tend to agree. Religious or not, we all have the same base software: Don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t cheat… Seems to me there are two problems: First, motivation. Doesn’t it seem tawdry to avoid transgressions because of fear of God? People seem to have pretty flexible interpretations of what’s going to anger God. Second, religious people are just as quick to use God as a justification for good as they are for evil.

    Secular laws strive for a consistency that religious ones can’t really match and they generally have their root in promoting societal good, not religious faction.

  3. The Heretic Says:

    All you have to do is look at peoples ruled by religion v. secular laws (Islam and say….Salem, Massechussetts a few hundred years ago) – people killed for blasphemy, apostasy, and accusations of being a witch. All of these things are laughable under secular law. But to a fanatical religious mob back by the ‘law’, they are the order of the day.

  4. D Says:

    My first reaction to the quote is wondering why and how we are better off without something that never existed in the first place, and why did he capitalize “god”? God doesn’t hurt people, people who make believe in him do. I must disclose that while I appreciate Dr. Stenger’s efforts, I do hope the clarity and eloquence of his writing improves. Maybe he is trying to hard to come up with another pithy catch phrase like his, “Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings” that some sources say he popularized.

    The article, that today’s quote is from is worth reading and can be found here:
    Stenger, Victor J., “Why Religion Must be Confronted”, Council for Secular Humanism, March 28, 2013. http://secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=fi&page=stenger_31_4

    In support of the claim he makes in today’s quote Dr. Stenger says, “Today we can find any number of societies where the majority has freely abandoned religion and God. Far from being dens of iniquity, these societies are the happiest, safest, and most successful in the world.”

    I have to admit I don’t know what specific societies he is referring to and while I may like to visit them, I am not at all convinced I would enjoy living my life in any of them.

    It is easier to look at religious history and the harms it has caused to support mankind’s potential of being better off without religious belief. However, we should also keep in mind that when we perceive we are better off, we can more comfortably be without religious beliefs. The former provides the reason, and the later provides a mechanism.

    As Karl Marx observed,
    “Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.
    The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.”

    Now we have a chicken or the egg type of argument. Do we lose religion in order to improve our situation or do we improve our situation in order to lose religion? While one might be tempted to say both, it seems more reasonable and ethical that the fate of religion should not depend on redeploying the thought police to abolish it, but on how comfortable people can be made to feel to give it up on their own.

  5. Sinjin Smythe Says:

    Initial Situation:
    There exists a norm to be religious.
    Religion is supposedly good for your health, leads to better economic outcomes, less stress, et cetera. (Always struck me as propaganda)
    There is a general belief that the norm has few bad apples or that you could hardly judge the whole by the bad behavior of a few people that fail to properly interpret religion. Bad religious people are supposedly rare.
    There is rare disapproval of religious belief. Most atheists lead closeted lives regarding their atheism for fear of consequence.
    Then credible evidence is publicized indicating there is widespread and dangersous behaviors associated with religious belief and practice. The good of the religious norm appears to have been overstated.
    Consequences:
    The norm will lose force or value.
    There will be more disapproval.

    The problem of the norm is that it isn’t reliable. As this knowedge becomes more widely umderstood, religious belief will fade.

  6. Jeff Says:

    I think that maybe it’s becoming time for us to exercise some of Maggie Thatcher’s brand of patience…

    “I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end.”

  7. Sinjin Smythe Says:

    I agree Jeff.

    We need to be talking to people about every religious hypocrisy we can. It is noteworthy to mention that the antonym of evangelize is truth. That spreading the truth might be the most effective way of reducing the effects of religious propaganda (aka evangelism)