Let's not forget what it's really about for a lot of believers: Money. Sure I don't doubt that there are many sincere believers, but the faith industry is at least a multi-billion dollar a year industry. The Catholic Church in the US alone spends $ 170 billion annually according to a recent report; the Mormon Church, according to some estimates, has annual revenues of about $ 5 billion and has about $ 25-30 billion in assets. Combine this with tithings from thousands of other independent churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and the money spent on the whole pseudoscientific industry that includes psychics, faith healers, witch doctors, magic crystals, and all different kinds of woo woo, and you may have a trillion dollar industry built entirely on exploiting people's credulity and faith.
So we must think about this in the context of an increasingly skeptical and secular society that demands more evidence for the claims being made. If everyone was a self proclaimed skeptic, or an empiricist, this entire faith based industry, and the millions of people it employs, would come crashing down. There'd be no one buying snake oil, no one buying animal bones for protection against evil spirits, no one giving their hard earned money to the church, mosque or synagogue - these industries would evaporate.
And think of where that money could go. Think of what a trillion dollars could do for humanity every year if instead of being spent on keeping the pulpits of anti-gay and anti-science clerics and pastors warm, it was spent on actual proven measures to educate the less fortunate without the proselytizing into a religious worldview. Imagine if people spent their money on actual medicine and learned how to really prevent diseases instead of paying witch doctors and psychics to milk their credulity in return for nothing but faith and hope.
The faith industry is kept alive in large part by its economic incentive. It's hard to imagine what the world would look like filled with rational skeptics. There'd probably be less disease, less crime, less poverty, less people being scammed and a lot less overall suffering. Religions actually thrive on suffering. Tornados, floods, and diseases are blessings in disguise. They want them to happen - as long as it brings more sheep into their flock where they can milk them of their money. Every new convert can be seen as a new source of revenue, especially in religions like Mormonism and Scientology, which I think today are entirely based on making money. I don't think any of the leaders of these churches seriously buy into their creed. They know it's bullshit, but it's making money, and why stop a good business model while its working?
I for one can't wait to see this bullshit economy come crashing down. That's just one of the motivations for doing what I do here.
Welcome to Atheism and the City. This blog is about exploring atheism through contemporary urban living. I live in New York City, the secular metropolis, and I have an avid interest in all things religion, science, philosophy, politics, and economics. I am an atheist, a humanist, a philosopher and a thinker, and the purpose of Atheism and the City is to write about my thoughts and experiences on the subjects and topics that I have a passion for. Feel free to respond to any post whether or not you agree.