10/31/2005

Whatever: Useless Atheism

Agree 100%. A cool new "blog find" -- law

John blogs:

.. here's a tip for atheists: The problem is not that people believe God exists. The problem is that people want to use God as an excuse to do damn fool things. The two are entirely separate issues. Where atheists rather charmingly get things backward is by assuming that by getting rid of God, people will stop doing the damn fool things they say God wants them to do. As if they won't find some other excuse.

Surprise! They will. Take, if you will, the 20th Century (please). What do Hitler's killing 9 million Jews, Gypsies, gays and political opponents, Stalin's starving of 25 million of the Soviet Union's own citizens for political ends (and sending 1.5 million to the gulags), and Pol Pot's presiding over the Cambodian autogenocide of up to 2 million people all have in common? If you say "Why, not a trace of a religious rationale on the part of those committing crimes against humanity, that's what," you'd be entirely correct (note, however, that many of the victims were targeted wholly or in part because of their religion). The Rwandan genocide was not manifestly an issue of religion either, as the Tutsi and the Hutu largely share the same faith. Didn't stop the Hutu from hacking up 800,000 Tutsi (and some inconveniently moderate Hutu as well) in the space of just 10 days.

The same God that Fred Phelps allegedly worships is worshiped by the members of the Metropolitan Community Church.. the same God that some say is leading us into battle against the heathens in the Middle East is the same one prayed to by the Quakers. Some people would see this as an example of how God can't exist, since so many people believe so many contradictory things about the same entity. I tend to see it as a reflection of the desires people bring to the human need for spirituality and fellowship. God is many things; one of those things is a mirror.

Disposing of the God of the Quakers or the Brethren or the MCC-- even if one could, which one cannot -- is not something I see as either useful or desirable... The flip side of this is that we have to endure the God of Fred Phelps and the God of the Intelligent Designers as well. But this is where a useful atheist -- which is to say, a person of good conscience -- will spend his time combating those who are using their religion as an excuse to act to the detriment of society, rather than wasting his time in teleological debates that he can no more definitively conclude than can those who hold the opposite opinion.

As almost all of you know, I am an agnostic; I rather seriously doubt that God exists, or if He does, that She is actively concerned whether one eats shrimp or has sex with a member of one's own sex... But I could be wrong, which is why I say I'm agnostic rather than atheist. I don't know. It does me no harm if other people believe other than I; what matters is what people do with that belief. ...


Whatever: Useless Atheism

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