Friday, 6 May 2016

Why You Need To Lose Faith

Another excerpt from my book, Ten Reasons To Lose Faith: And Why You Are Better Off Without It,this time explaining why you would be better off without faith and by embracing the doubt and uncertainty that comes from acceptance of evidence as the only basis for making rational decisions.

It is not insignificant that for everyday life, and for any activity where material reality has to be taken into account, the only way to make rational decisions is to behave atheistically. The simple task of crossing a road is the same for an atheist as for a theist, even though a theist might want to mutter a few prayers as well. In the end, it is the physical evidence that the road is safe to cross that determines the appropriate action.

Atheists and theists leaving a sinking ship must go through exactly the same process of getting into a lifeboat even though the theist might spend a moment in prayer. Only the most insane of theist would decline to get in a lifeboat believing a god would be along to save them shortly. In effect, theists crossing a road or theists getting into a lifeboat are behaving just like atheists. Even Christians have a saying, ‘God helps those who help themselves’, to explain why people need to behave like atheists in everyday life. That rather begs the question though of why the Christian god would favour people who behave like atheists.

Even the most religious of scientists must behave in science as though the material world is all that there is. No science is made possible or the answer made more reliable by including a god or something supernatural in the hypothesis because these things are untestable, unfalsifiable and hence unusable in real world science. A good scientist must behave as though he or she were an atheist when it comes to doing good science. Any religious beliefs must be excluded and discounted as surely as any personal bias. In effect, science is atheistic even if the scientist is not.

Science only started to make any real process when scientists discovered the scientific method which requires them to behave like atheists when they do science. When, like creationists do today, scientists were expected to start from a religious view by for example taking the Bible as their starting point, science never progressed beyond that of the Bronze Age people who wrote the Bible. In effect, science was a pointless attempt to confirm Bronze Age superstitions, including a flat Earth, a geocentric Universe, the Sun and Moon as lamps hanging from a dome and the heart as the seat of emotions and thought.

[...]

Where moral actions are mandated, they are frequently simply because God says so. It is not until we get to the New Testament in the Bible that there is any suggestion that we should do good simply because it is good, with for example the story of the Good Samaritan where the ‘goodness’ of the act is immediately obvious to anyone who already knows what goodness is (and so do not need a parable to tell them).

[...]

But why even look in holy ‘scriptures’ for morality anyway? Morality can be found in the plays of William Shakespeare, the poems of Byron and Robert Frost, the writing of John Steinbeck, Charles Dickens, the Bronte sisters, Mary Ann Evans and Thomas Hardy – and those are just a small selection from the English literary world. I could have chosen a list from French, Spanish, German and Italian, and no doubt Japanese and Chinese writers. There is more morality in a few pages of Thomas Paine, David Hume, Leo Tolstoy, Lao Tsu or K'ung Fu-tzu than in the entire New Testament.

It is not just the Abrahamic religions which repress and condition individuals into conforming to dogma rather than forming their own opinions.

[...]

An atheist is free to pick and choose and decide for himself or herself if these writers were right or wrong or whether the morality they include is relevant to today or not. A devout, God-fearing Christian or Muslim is basically stuck with what the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age authors of their respective holy books considered right for their times.

Religion is of course, primarily about control. There are two basic ways religions seek to control people: they seek to impose their beliefs through the government in the form of laws reflecting religious beliefs rather than laws maximising freedom of conscience, and they seek special privileges for themselves and their followers.

If you doubt that a society can function effectively without religion I invite you to compare present-day Europe with the present-day Middle East. Europe has had peace and stability for the last seventy years as we have become increasingly secular and religion has declined almost to insignificance in many places. This has only been interrupted in the Balkans where religious factions fought genocidal wars over the corpse of Yugoslavia. In the Middle East there is perpetual, religious-based conflict from which millions of refugees are now fleeing to secular Europe to escape the brutality of religious extremists who claim they are carrying out their god's instructions.

In Ten Reasons To Lose Faith I explain why faith is not a rational basis for belief and can't be used with any confidence as a basis for real-world decisions. It would make science impossible and would result in a moral code and framework of law which is both fossilised and unchangeable and useless for a modern society today, let alone in the future. Faith is a drag on society and a fallacy which delivers power and control into the hands of an unaccountable elite with a long and sorry record of abuse, corruption and amoral self-service.

Faith is divisive and represents an immediate threat to us all.

Ten Reasons To Lose Faith is available as a paperback direct from the publishers, or through Amazon in paperback or Kindle versions. Purchasers of the paperback via Amazon can get the Kindle Version at a special low price.



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