So isn’t the prosecution and unnecessary suffering caused by religions what an atheist should be against, not the actual belief itself?”
Atheists are definitely against unnecessary suffering, of course, but what is behind the suffering? Atheists are not saying that religion is the ONLY cause of suffering in the world today – this is the subject of other questions – but it is a divisive force, often the only way of dividing “us” from “them.”
To use an analogy: doctors are against suffering too, but they are also against the causes of the the suffering. They can treat the symptoms, but the patient can still die if they don’t treat the underlying condition – the disease or injury.
If religion really is your only hope, what caring human being would come along, pull out the rug from under you, and tell you “your hope is false?” Atheists are people too, you know…
This question stems from a typical misunderstanding about atheism, one typically put forth by preachers when encouraging belief. “Atheists are nihilists; they just take away hope and have nothing positive to say…”
The preachers have it back to front: they paint things in black and white. They say “religion or nothing,” but there are many possible things to take comfort from, religion is only one of them. What about friends and family, science, and nature? We will not live forever, but we can do good work, help people, and create lasting memories for those who stay behind.
Even if religion is unfounded, does that invalidate the fellowship found in a church community and the support offered by your friends there? Of course not; what an atheist might say is that the same sense of community and brotherhood can be found in other places too, without the need for irrational beliefs.
If anything, wondering how you will cope in times of trouble is a strong incentive to ask questions and sort out your personal philosophy now, while things are going well. Strap on your armor before going into battle; don’t wait until you’re lying under a horse with a hole in your head, metaphorically speaking, before asking “what am I doing here?”
Posted: June 15th 2007
See all questions answered by brian thomson