The Atheist Manifesto
This is The Atheist Manifesto, as written by N.B.F. It is not an "official" document of any atheist organization, but rather an explanation of the atheist view of God and religion.
Reluctance to accept responsibility for ones actions, coupled with the lack of explanation for natural and other phenomena is the root of religion, which has more often than not lead to suffering, conflict, and pain.
Throughout the ages, humans have constantly sought to rely on a higher power. Generally, people prefer to feel secure, clothed, fed, and spiritually and mentally enlightened by a higher entity rather than let themselves down to a level where no one can help them except them and their puny fellow humans. It is more comforting to completely surrender oneself to the infinitely more powerful and let them guide you than to sit down and think what you want to do with yourself, and do your own guidance. And if there are millions of others like you, youre part of a big brotherhood. Its a comforting thought, and it has helped in the past, but need help no longer. With the advent of science religious believers have had increasingly less credibility and less logic behind their arguments.
Religion is a security item now more than an explanation for things that science is now able to provide. For example, if someone breaks their leg and has the tiniest of fractures, they may still request a crutch because it provides extra security. Even after it has healed, the injured person may be uncertain, and continue to carry the crutch, making it a burden. This is strikingly similar to the pattern of religious belief, religion being the crutch. It gives you false help through a time of hardship, and then you continue to cling to it afterwards, since it will give you a sense of security. The mentality that something that prevented you from one evil will protect from another is the the other trend. Perhaps the person fell and had, once again, the tiniest of fractures, though this time in the skull. They might continue to carry the crutch, keeping faith that it would help them through this hardship. The crutch has another meaning; it boosts one up to something else, above. But it is a burden. Salvation and saving from various insundury natural and moral disasters must be earned by performing some regular rite, like going to church. And, of course, people want to feel special, so delude themselves into thinking they have intimate personal relations with god. The former is the small, regular, sacrifice so that when you need help, you will have paid advance dues. But the promise for salvation is a false one, for the following reasons: first of all, few can deny that eternal bliss might get boring, and it is possible, even probable, that those poor souls up in heaven might get bored after a while. They would long to be able to feel and hear, to experience life as they knew it before, making heaven more of a punishment than a reward; secondly people tend to pray for longer lives on earth, and better health on earth, and yet will call them up to heaven, sometimes after suffering in the form of disease or injury.
But why is heaven needed if God is worshipped so that people will be saved while on earth? It would be unnecessary. People would go into oblivion after leading a divinely protected life. But, with the invention of a God to save them, people gradually realized that god wouldnt always save them, so the idea of heaven was gradually introduced as a consolation prize for those who god decided to let die, often after suffering. Why not go straight to the good stuff, i.e. heaven? Why make them suffer if theyre going to die anyway?
When Hitler advanced on the Jews of Europe with his genocide machine, God did nothing to prevent the tremendous pain and suffering experienced by those that had faithfully worshipped him. Perhaps the justification for this is that He was planning to bring them to heaven, but why wait? Why make them suffer on earth? This brings up yet another question. Why arent people born in heaven? Why dont they live in the radiant light of God right away? That way there is no doubt, people all see him, and all know his blessings. Under the current system, we live in sin and uncertainty and pain before getting to heaven? In the eternal time we spend in heaven, we are prone to forget suffering and pain, so why have them in the first place?
The idea of pain and suffering versus happiness and bliss is the stem of what originated as a religious moral code and then permeated everyday life. The basic Christian moral code can be summed up as this: whatever brings about pain and unhappiness is bad, and whatever brings about happiness is good. There are obviously exceptions to this rule; for example, someone may commit adultery, and it might make them happy if they are in a loveless marriage, but that doesnt make it right, partially because the other married person would be hurt. Most of the Commandments deal with this sort of thing, singling out some of the most common causes of pain and/or unhappiness. Thou shalt not kill and Thou shalt not steal are just two of the basic rules to live life by. However, it is simpler than it seems. Good and Bad, defined by how much pain or happiness they cause, have their counterparts heaven and hell. Theres the middle ground of purgatory when all else fails. However, this rigid system of punishments, rewards, and middle grounds has its downfalls. Firstly, some of the Commandments are almost impossible to obey. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors ox is difficult to obey. It is seldom that one does not envy the possession of another. Another variation, thou shalt not covet they neighbors wife, is also difficult to many. Sexual lust is not something easily calmed in many cases. Usually, if a person in power wants people to obey him or her, he or she will make rules that, while perhaps rigid, will not be beyond the capacities of those they are to rule over.
He who lives by religion tends to die by religion. Likewise, he who plans to die by religion (expects to go to heaven)lives by religion (goes to church, tries to obey the Commandments, et cetera). So religion can be and should be viewed as a stupor to live in, like a mind altering drug that creates a fantasy world where things, especially some greater, more powerful thing understands you. Ignorance (religion) is bliss. People like to think that there is something infinitely more powerful that they can rely on, something that understands them in a universe that is otherwise cold and unfeeling. But, why didnt God create a universe that can feel? Why do many crimes go unpunished? Why does this supreme judge allow the worst atrocities to pass without lifting a finger? Why doesnt the universe mete out justice as is appropriate? Surely, if the loving Lord were in charge, He would make it that way. The fact that it is not that way further suggests that there is no God. These thoughts seldom transverse the minds of those who want to skip the reality and go to the glory. In the words of Karl Marx, religion is the opiate of the masses. Millions can be brainwashed to go on some holy war, like The Crusades. And what good came or comes of it? Millions were slaughtered, many by people of their own faith, and people kept praying to their god to the end. It was an utter failure and cost countless lives. Though the lives cost in these days by religious conflict may not always be countless they are definitely there. Take the pain and strife in Ireland today, or the constant wars in Africa. Tension continues between Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan, and nuclear bombs have just entered the picture. The world is being slowly torn apart just after it has been brought together for less than a century.
It is impossible to deny that religion causes suffering. In fact, it has been known to cause some of the greatest non-natural catastrophes of all time, The Crusades and Spanish Inquisition being among them. During the Middle Ages and very early Renaissance, the Catholic Churchs gain of power resulted in delayed scientific process, perhaps up to 300 years of it. Galileo saved his life by retracting his statement that the earth went around the sun. He was decidedly luckier than the numerous other scientists, intellectuals, and philosophers whose faith was questioned during the Spanish Inquisition. Although all of the perpetrators claimed to be acting in the name of God, any idiot who picks up a Bible will realize two things; firstly, God prefers to take his own vengeance unless specified otherwise, and secondly, God is kind and loving. The latter is probably one of the fundamentals of what makes God God. He is the supreme decider of justice, he is the all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful Lord who has an intimate relationship with each and every one who has been seduced by his followers. And yet, millions die as the result of his kind, just, loving rule. Something does not fit. Therefore, it is clear that religion has in its arsenal the ability to not only tear society apart, but reconstruct it to some extent using masses of endlessly devoted believers. Though a propose of this sort can be useful, it has at this point overstayed its welcome. Greed and corruption are more prominent and tempting in this modern day. Capitalism, a system based on mistrust and greed, is a fairly obvious example of how the goodness of religion has expired. I doubt that any big businessman today has looked to a Bible and decided to by nice to his competitor. The dog-eat-dog world that is emerging is not exactly the kind, loving, place that it should have been with our fantastic progress in all fields of study.
Quite obviously, religious wars would be difficult if everybody had the same religion. It is also obvious that religious wars have, are, and will be fought on even the slightest differences in doctrine, belief, or both. Using this as a context, I pose this question: If God really does exist, then why do many cultures not believe in Him? Why did the monotheistic god approach only certain countries, and why did the polytheistic gods do likewise in seeking for a race to worship them? Surely God would not be so evil as to provide only certain cultures of the world with His glorious enlightenment, while leaving others prey to sin and error. And why only approach certain countries if the inevitable result will be wars among them on the ground of religious differences? God claims to love and care for all, while only offering certain races salvation and His loving kindness, leading to confusion, disagreement, and war. It is clear that religion causes pain and suffering while deluding the masses into believing into a deity that wont cure diseases or answer questions like science will.
Science, as a process, could be considered the prime contender against religion in several things; firstly, providing explanations for things that arent explained otherwise, and secondly, providing a simple, efficient way of life that is easiest for the human to tolerate. Science, most will agree, is the best, most logical way to discover the truths that we can live our lives by. Science has cured our diseases and injuries, saved us from death and pain, and dramatically improve the standard of living in a way religion never could. But, then, why cant religion co-exist with science? I believe that it cannot because those who believe arent willing to give up certain things, like the Bible, parts of which have been proved definitively wrong. As it isnt logically possible to prove something cant be done, it is also difficult to prove that God doesnt exist. However, the Bible and other religious manuscripts, which naturally have much to do with God, have, in a great many cases, been proved wrong about something or other. And when the word of God (the Bible), mighty God who knows the supreme truths and has comprehension of things we never will, is proven wrong somewhere, then you know that something is wrong. Refusal to give up ones holy book is natural, but it must be done.
The problem of the incompatibility of science and religion stems from one simple fact. Religion gives explanations for things (such as the Creation) that dont agree with the explanations of science. There is nothing wrong with an almighty overlord as long as he does not interfere with what is practical. And Gods supposed words interfere with science, which is practical.
There is also a noticeable pattern in the way religion is formed. In early Europe, people were, on the whole, cold, hungry, and often in danger. The God they created loved them and was willing to help them. The Greeks, on the other hand, lived in the warm, sunny Mediterranean, where they could fish and grow wheat and olives. They needed less help from above, so created gods that were selfish, that slept around, lied, stole, killed, but usually didnt interfere with the people. They didnt need to interfere because the people were content, for the most part. One of the few and possibly only reasons the Greeks may have need religion is for the explanation of natural phenomena. However, the Greek scientists and philosophers were often intelligent enough to look beyond all of the myths that they had heard as children, and do some real thinking to uncover the truth.
The soul is arguably one of the most crucial parts of the monotheistic structure. It is never your body that needs to be saved, just your soul. It is important because it is what is left of you after you die, the part of you that will go through the final routine of the afterlife. It is judged, and either goes to heaven, hell, or, in some cases purgatory. It is what God can get at you with. If you had no soul and knew it, you could get away with bad things with the assurance that you dont have a soul to make you suffer after you die. But, being part of the supernatural, the concept and ownership of the soul is rejected by atheists. If it isnt then the person cannot be considered an atheist, as the true definition of an atheist is one that does not believe in anything supernatural. When I talk about the soul here, I mean the spiritual extension of ones physical body, not the inner thoughts or principles of a person. The soul was in all probability invented so that humans could have the comfort of knowing that there was a part of them beyond their puny bodies, something to carry on their thoughts and feelings to whatever may come. This idea of comfort with some supernatural being is not unlike the idea of God. In this manner, a soul could be considered a mini-god, another non-existent thing that provides comfort. As people dont want to be alone and helpless, which is why they have God, they also dont want just their body to be them. In reality, the complex mental structures that make up our minds simulate the emotions that make us feel we have a soul. The soul goes on even if we die. Comfort from the supernatural happens again here.
Free will seems to be one of the most important gifts that God bestowed upon us. But, then, if we have free will, why is there such a strict code enforced about it? Free will is only really free if, if you have to choices and choose one, that one is as good as the other. If there is only one right choice, and the other or others bring upon the doer guilt or punishment, then it isnt really free will. But, then, why is the concept of free will so necessary to religion? Because people need to feel that they hav choice, and that religion is not as constricting as it really is. No one wants to be a member of a faceless horde, and so free will instead of rigorous behavioral rules is what lets people stand apart, usually at the price of guilt or punishment, since there is really only one right thing to do by the religious moral code. This need for individuality when part of a faceless horde is further satisfied by prayer, when your average idiot can have communications with the Almighty. Its a very enlightning feeling to know that you are communicating with the creater, nurterer, and savior, but its wishful thinking. Its just another example of how people want to feel special with a personal relationship with God.