Token Relgion Post
I don’t often post about religion, I just don’t find what I believe to be anyone else’s business, much like what others believe is none of mine. When you come to the question of whether there is or is not a God, that question is equally relevant to every person, although the answer may not be.
It may surprise some people, but I have a decent collection of books penned by prominent, or at least intelligent, atheists, and I’ve done a fair amount of reading of similar books taken from libraries and such. I for one do find the pure pursuit of knowledge meaningful, but I also do hold religious beliefs that sometimes seem to conflict with what I know about the world. The writings of Dawkins and Hitchens sit along side the writings of Saint Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, much is obviously in conflict, but a great deal isn’t.
The following quote is Richard Dawkins from an interview in 1994:
There may be a vacuum which is left. If religion goes, there may well be a vacuum in important ways in people’s psychology, in people’s happiness, and I don’t claim to be able to fill that vacuum, and that is not what I want to claim to be able to do. I want to find out what’s true. Now, as for what I might have to offer, I’ve tried to convey the excitement, the exhilaration of getting as complete a picture of the world and the universe in which you live as possible.
I think this cuts right to heart of why many people are able to combine two separate and possibly exclusive ‘truths’ at once. Too often a great fuss is made over the question of whether or not there is a God. I don’t put much value on the answer, but there are many on both sides of the issue who do. Great. Richard Dawkins
doesn’t care places a very low value on the negatives that would likely result from the eradication of religion. It is that feeling that he, and many other atheists hold. I liken it to the position held by many religious people who don’t place much value on any damage religion causes by it’s continued existence.
There is no evidence that I am as yet aware of that helps us to decide, in a collective sense, which outcome, religion or no religion, is the better result. It may very well be that the “best” outcome would be one world with one universally held religion. It may be that the “best” outcome is one world where there are no religions. As with so many other things, you hear this come up in many, if not most, debates between the religious and the irreligious, the “truth”, in this case the “best” outcome, does not have to therefore lay in the middle someplace, it might be at either end. (It very well could be in the middle someplace too, but it doesn’t follow that it must be.)
Value, cannot be decided on the grand scale for people. If that were done, state enforced religion or atheism, or a mixture, it would be exactly like the government stepping into the economy and deciding what people need and how many things will be produced, how often and at what quality and cost and so forth. Value is based on each persons needs, wants and personal experiences, circumstance of time and place, knowledge that is unique as it were.
So I can reasonably conclude that in the marketplace of ideas there can be no one size fits all and the “best” outcome is to let individuals decide how much they value scientific truth over religious faith and make the purchase that results in the most value for them and at the lowest opportunity cost. The result should be a natural high point, a balance that adjusts itself to current events, discoveries and culture, all of which are in a continual state of flux. Those who would seek to eliminate religion or atheism and its relatives do nothing but harm, as I have yet to see an example of fewer choices universally or predictably resulting in a positive outcome.
Christopher Hitchens said on a number of occasions that if there were only one religious person left on earth he would not want them to give their beliefs up. He usually followed it with a bit of snark about having no one to argue with, but I think he genuinely held that position. As any atheist knows there are positives that very likely can only come from religion, just like there are negatives that can only come from it. The same is true of almost everything else. A world with fewer ideas, right, wrong or in-between is a world that is worse off.
One thing that people on both sides of the question have to realize and get over is that my religion is going to impact you if you are an atheist. Likewise, the actions, choices and ideas held by atheists are going to impact me. This is not the same thing as forcing your beliefs on others, take for example Turkey, the country. If you like bacon, you are completely out of luck. There is a huge Muslim population, they don’t eat pork. That fact is, that isn’t Islam being forced on you, it just reflects the reality of demand. Likewise when people go to vote, the outcome is going to be based on predominate views, that isn’t force either, it’s reality.
Now don’t expect another post of this sort on religion for at least 6 months. I’ve just reached my quota for religious/irreligious arguments for that time period. In fact I may be over budget.
If you want to read some interesting shit, do a bit of Google-ing on atheistic ideas of life after death.
That is all.