Monday, May 23, 2011

The Angry Atheist

I’m often asked why I’m so mad at god. Why do I make such a fuss over the fact there is no god? Why can’t I just live and let live? Did something bad happen to make me into an atheist?

I’m no madder at god for not existing than I am mad at Santa Claus for not existing. They both simply do not exist. I get angry when I see the harm religious belief does to people and to society. The harm is demonstrable and very real, even if the god is imaginary. We recently had a false rapture alarm. The world was supposed to end and it didn’t. Some would say that there was no harm in people placing advertisements and billboards stating that May 21, 2011 was going to be the day jesus came back. But there WAS harm. One lady tried to kill her daughters and herself. Another man spent his whole life savings, over $140,000, on advertisements that helped spread the word the end was nigh. That’s real harm. It angers me that people were dupped into doing these things. It makes me mad that the people that started the myth of the end of the world don’t have to answer for this. It infuriates me that they are able to hide behind “normal” people who hold similar beliefs.

Those “normal” people are everyday Christians. These are people who scoffed at the May 21 date, but not at the ridiculous idea that jesus was coming back. The only thing they thought was silly was the date. That makes me angry. It isn’t that the guy got the date wrong; it’s that the idea of the world coming to an end like it is described in revelations is nonsense. But people accept some crazy and just reject the part of the crazy that can actually be falsified.

Sometimes, people tell me that focusing on all the harm done by religion is fruitless. They tell me that religion does good things too. I even get cited examples like Mother Teresa and Gandhi. Both of these examples are bad examples. Mother Teresa was given millions of dollars in charitable donations, yet her Home for the Dying in Calcutta has no running water, no beds, no doctor on staff. The number of improvements Mother Teresa made after getting all that money was 0! She WANTED people to suffer. That’s sadistic. She is a horrid example of good done by religion. And why are Christians using Gandhi as an example? He wasn’t Christian! He seems a bad example as well.

In any case, the good religion does is not a balancing factor for the evil it commits. Imagine if I said, “Well, Hitler did some great things for his economy, so that makes up for the evil he committed.” You’d laugh, right? You should. In the same way the good religion does cannot counter the evil it causes. And I would assert that there is no good that religion does that cannot be done without religion. I would even go further and say that if the good done by religion would be even better if religion was not involved. It really bothers me when I hear of missionaries giving people food and bibles. Just give them food. Forget the useless superstition.

The point is that I see real harm caused by religion, and no good that comes only from religion. When people use religion to bar people from getting married, that is harmful to everyone. When people use religion to car women from healthcare, that harms everyone. When religion causes people to think the world is ending, that harms everyone.

And when people realize that this is the only life we get, it makes this life all the more precious. Then we can come together and make rational decisions. We have to do it. There is no god to help us. God isn’t here; we are.

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