Monday, January 21, 2013

Why Fight Religion?

Some theists ask why an atheist should fight religion. "Why don't you just leave god and religion alone?", they ask. "No one is forcing their religion on you." Well we can argue forever over whether god exists, or whether one religion is true or not, but there is another important element to this debate that is sometimes overlooked. And that is on the issue of secularism which I am very strongly in support of. Generally speaking, the more religious a person is the less likely they will be in support of secularism and the more likely they will be in support of having their religious traditions and principles imposed onto others through government.

Paramount to the atheistic agenda, is the preservation of our secular democracy. It is not as some fear, to have a goal of state atheism. What we want is merely to maintain the "wall of separation between church and state" that Thomas Jefferson had envisioned. And if it weren't for theists constantly trying to tear that wall down, we atheists might be a lot more quiet.

Let me run down a short list why I personally think it is worthwhile to fight against religious belief.

  • We have plausible natural explanations how our universe, life, and we, came to be without the need for a deity
  • Religion (therefore) misrepresents the true nature of our cosmos
  • Religious belief can lead to superstitious thinking which can make us act irrational
  • Religious belief can retard our moral and intellectual progression
  • Religious belief divides us and leads to tribalism 
  • When politics and religion are mixed it often results in the freedom of and from religion being violated

You know if religious minded people kept their personal beliefs to themselves and kept it out of politics and public policy, I wouldn't have so much of a problem with them. But the very nature of religious belief for many requires that I be convinced of it too, or that I be forced to respect it. Well I am thankful that I live in a country where I can pretty much say what I want about religion without being penalized. And it is organized atheism's goal to preserve this and make this possible everywhere so that the right to express one's mind is recognized and respected.

I'm tired of the false accusations that atheists are just imposing secularism on others in a similar fashion that theocrats are with religion. Secularism is a principle, not a religion. Politics is fair game; I have no problem with people with opposing political beliefs having the right to impose them on me. Religion is a different matter: I want you to be able to justify your politics with reason and evidence, not by appealing to scripture or tradition. That's the dividing line.

So as long as there are theocrats trying to tear down the wall between church and state, there will need to be activists and a voting block of secularists holding it up.

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