Sunday, October 7, 2007

Causes of Atheism

Atheist in a Mini Van pointed readers to an article that said that one of the causes of the growth of atheism was the events at 9/11. These events allegedly caused some people to give up on religion.

Atheist in a Mini Van expressed doubts that this was true - that few people in fact became atheists as a result of 9/11. In other words, there were few people who said in their mind, "9-11 happened; therefore, no God exists." She did not say that it never happened, only that it was a weak influence.

However, what 9/11 clearly caused was for some atheists - starting with Sam Harris - to stop their habit of sitting back comfortably and say "Religion is not important. I don't have to take a stand against it." For a number of people, 9/11 delivered the message, "Religion kills."

Of course, they already knew that. However, until 9/11, religion only killed people - strangers - and not even white anglo-saxon strangers "over there". Suddenly, religion killed people over here, and that was much more difficult to tolerate.

Of course, religion had been killing people over here as well - millions of people - by promoting ignorance and raising religious objections to medical research that could have otherwise saved lives, by promoting the suicide of homosexual teenagers, and the like. However, we had grown accustomed to this - had decided to live with it. After all, the problem of correcting this problem was just too big to worry about. We did not (or, at least, we believed we did not) have the power to change it, so we learned to accept it.

With 9/11, some atheists started to demand that their fellow citizens rethink religion. That voice was contagious, until a large (and growing?) number of people joined in. With this voice, some who were on the fence have climbed down off that fence on the side of atheism.

Every day we see reminders of the message, "Religion kills." Which feeds the message. Some people try to shout back, "Atheism also kills," but one does not have the daily reminders of atheism killing that one has of religion killing.

Unfortunately, I continue to worry about the fact that atheism does not prevent killing, and that there must be a vigil against the idea that religion is the problem that leads to the conclusion that anything a person can do to rid the world of religion is good.

In fact, the idea, "religion kills" is a bit too simplistic. "Irrational beliefs kill," and religion is only one set of irrational beliefs. There are others, and some of them are available to atheists. I continue to argue for broadening the battle to include not only the most dangerous beliefs within religion, but the most dangerous beliefs outside of religion as well. It would be foolish to be so blindly fixated on the former (religion) that the latter (non-religious wrongs) end up conquering us without us even knowing they are there.


Anonymous said...

what non religious beliefs are you referring to?

Dan said...

Social Darwinism, Racism, Belief in Gender superiority is responsible for countless deaths in India and China. Though I admit Racism has often used Religion as justification.