"Earth’s distant orb appeared the smallest light that twinkles in the heaven; whilst round the chariot’s way innumerable systems rolled and countless spheres diffused an ever-varying glory. It was a sight of wonder: some were hornèd like the crescent moon; some shed a mild and silver beam like Hesperus o'er the western sea; some dashed athwart with trains of flame, like worlds to death and ruin driven; some shone like suns, and as the chariot passed, eclipsed all other light." From "Queen Mab" by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1813)
Sunday, 21 February 2010
There Is No God
I’ve been an atheist for ages now but in the last few years I’ve become more militant about it. And Yvette Fielding is partly to blame.
Since I was a kid I’ve been fascinated by science and the so called paranormal. I even went through a slight christian phase as a teenager. Over the years I believed less and less in those things which didn’t stand up to scrutiny but it all came to a head when I started watching Most Haunted with Yvette Fielding. It was a great show to start with, very entertaining and at the time, with an open mind, I willingly suspended my disbelief. After watching about 3 series of the team visit the most haunted homes in the UK and not once, NOT ONCE actually filming a ghost, the last vestiges of belief in the supernatural were swept from my mind. Suddenly everything was much clearer without all that supernatural baggage; a revelation equal to a religious conversion? Maybe, but it certainly confirmed and strengthened my atheism.
Now, of course, every time I hear someone like the bishop of here there and everywhere giving his opinion on everything from condoms to the banking crisis, it just makes me angry. Why is his opinion given such credence in the media? It’s because ethics is equated with religion but the two do not go hand in hand. For instance, is it wrong to take a person’s life because god says it is, because you believe you will go to hell or just because it’s plain wrong and pretty much every society on the planet has outlawed it whatever the religion or lack of it in the country? Tests have shown that some animals display moral decision making but a test has yet to show that any animal has a religious belief system. Ethics and morals do not come from religion, it’s the reverse. You simply do not need religion to have morals or ethics. And more and more the religious are shown to be less and less moral after all; suicide bombers, homophobia, the churches covering up of widespread child abuse, etc.
Anyway, I don’t mind what they say in church but why are they on TV and the radio all the time? Belief in the supernatural, in miracles, in virgins giving birth should be disbarment from such public speaking every bit as much as giving air time to someone who persisted in believing the tooth fairy was a reality but had something important to say about sexual education being taught in schools.
I joined the National Secular Society a few years back, they’re great at countering religious nonsense in the media. They also fight religious privilege wherever it rears its ugly, interfering head, which is in a lot more places than you might think. It’s quite disturbing how much unelected “people of faith” have sway over our society and directly in government; for example, unelected bishops sit in the House of Lords and get a vote! Anyway, it really bugs me. I encourage all free thinking people to join the NSS, their website is http://www.secularism.org.uk/
So, apart from Yvette Fielding being an unwitting conduit out of believing in the supernatural, other things that might point one in the direction of rationalism might include...
Shelley – have a read of this from Shelley’s “The Necessity of Atheism” about god – “If he is infinitely good, what reason should we have to fear him? If he is infinitely wise, why should we have doubts concerning our future? If he knows all, why warn him of our needs and fatigue him with our prayers? If he is everywhere, why erect temples to him? If he is just, why fear that he will punish the creatures that he has filled with weaknesses? If grace does everything for them, what reason would he have for recompensing them? If he is all-powerful, how offend him, how resist him? If he is reasonable, how can he be angry at the blind, to whom he has given the liberty of being unreasonable? If he is immovable, by what right do we pretend to make him change his decrees? If he is inconceivable, why occupy ourselves with him? If he has spoken, why is the universe not convinced? If the knowledge of a god is the most necessary, why is it not the most evident and the clearest?” That’s pretty conclusive don’t you think?
Evolution – It just speaks volumes that creationists do everything they can do discredit both evolution and Darwin short of providing any actual counter evidence that stands up to scrutiny. They really are ignorant about how evolution works too. No we are not descended from chimps, but we do both share a common ancestor. Get it right.
Miracles - there may be piles of crutches at Lourdes but you’ll find no piles of prosthetic limbs or bowls of glass eyes. And why do people “thank god” for curing them but they don’t blame him for making them ill in the first place?
UFOs (OK, not strictly speaking the supernatural but it has some relevance I think) - there are many forms of natural atmospheric optical phenomena that describe exactly what people experience when they “see” ufos. Also, once you know more about the size of the universe and the massive distances between worlds, you’d understand that if an alien did come all that way, they’re not going to abduct some redneck just to stick a probe up his rear end. Surely, they’d want more out of the trip than that, wouldn’t you? Anyway, if naturally occurring phenomena can answer the ufo question, then maybe it can also answer questions about other so called supernatural phenomena? I think it can.
There’s loads more but I’ve got a roast dinner to prepare, so that will have to do for now. I’m certain this is a subject I will return to. I’ll leave you with this thought: Atheism, it clears the brain of religious clutter and helps you see the world more clearly. There’s certainly no god, so stop worrying and enjoy your life!
Suggested reading: “50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God” by Guy P. Harrison