The End of My Faith

“For anyone with eyes to see, there can be no doubt that religious faith remains a perpetual source of human conflict. Religion persuades otherwise intelligent men and women to not think, or to think badly, about questions of civilizational importance. And yet it remains taboo to criticize religious faith in our society, or to even observe that some religions are less compassionate and less tolerant than others. What is worst in us (outright delusion) has been elevated beyond the reach of criticism, while what is best (reason and intellectual honesty) must remain hidden, for fear of giving offense.” –Sam Harris, The End of Faith (2005). W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. p. 236-237.

I just finished the above book and loved it. I am new to exploring the idea of “no God.” I have been moving in this direction for years, but never understood enough about the origins of the universe to feel comfortable eschewing God completely. I acknowledge there is a lot we don’t know about the world and about ourselves. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that none of the extant religions have a coherent narrative to explain much of anything. Also, if there were a personal, omniscient (and decent) God who demanded that we know and serve him on threat of eternal punishment, there would be no ambiguity. There would be no “interpretations.” No all-knowing God would rely on hearsay to get his message out, and then torture people who don’t get it.

No, religion was created to help us explain our surroundings, to comfort us when we are afraid, to give us that sense of awe that feels so great, to provide a sense of law to keep our communities in order, and to give us a sense of family with one another. The good news is that religion is completely unnecessary to experience any of these things. Reliance on any church, guru, or institution to tell you what to do with your life is an abdication of your responsibilities as a human being. It is also a waste of a perfectly healthy brain.

It is not easy to live free of god/religion in our society. Skeptics make people uncomfortable. People think the only way to have morals is to sign up for a religion, or, more likely, to stick with the one imposed on you from birth. However, the reality is that religion encourages tribal thinking – us vs. them hatred, condescension, and animosity – not peace. It also encourages passivity, magical thinking, and superstition. It only encourages peace and love between those within one’s religion – those with whom one already agrees, or those one can convince to sign up. I fail to see what is impressive about that. Although I have no desire to make people uncomfortable just for the heck of it, or to impose my lack of belief on anyone, I am unwilling to force myself to believe in things that aren’t real.

There is enough true beauty in the world to celebrate without having to bother with fictitious beings in the sky. Loving one another is a humanist idea that transcends man-made religion. My goal is to make this world a better place because there is no evidence of any others.

Love and peace,

Raven

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5 Comments

  1. Enjoyed reading this post, I will definitely add that book to my reading list.
    Feel free to read my blog, I posted for the first time but it is similar to what you are talking about.

    It seems like you think religion is stupid. Do you not see any benefits of religion? I think it can be a wonderful thing for certain people. I have a theory that some religious people know deep down that there is no God or afterlife, but this thought scares them too much so they choose to believe in their religion. I suppose it can be considered a waste of a brain in some ways but consider the alternative…if some people didn’t have religion, they might not be able to handle the fact that we don’t know what happens when we die and go crazy. I, personally, would rather the world be filled with people happy and sane and believing in god than a bunch of crazies walking around freaking about there not being a god.

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    1. Hi, Ash,

      Thank you for reading my blog and responding. I’m pleased to meet you.

      No, I don’t think religion itself is “stupid.” I mentioned some of the reasons I believe religion evolved for us and stuck. As you say, it helps us handle some of the more difficult aspects of life. I do not think, however, that religion is the only way humans can get these particular needs met. And I definitely don’t believe it is the best way. I believe religion causes a great deal of unnecessary stress for its practitioners and those around them. Rather than “freaking out about there not being a god,” people freak out because they think there is one. They think this god requires them to shun certain people or even put them to death. They constantly fear that every circumstance is some sort of reward or punishment. Theirs is a different brand of crazy, but much more insidious because it is so passionately felt. Once people adjust to the fact that this is the only life available, they can stop wasting time and actually enjoy it. They can make sound life decisions based upon reality. They can enjoy the brand of immortality that comes from making the world a better place for their descendants. And they can be kind to others, not because those people are members of the same religion, or because they want to recruit them into their religion, but simply because kindness feels good and leads to a better, more satisfying life.

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      1. I totally agree that there are numerous negative aspects of religion and you make some great points about certain negative aspects.

        What I am most curious about what you say are the other ways you speak of to handle the difficult aspects of life with something other than religion. Would you mind sharing with me some of the other ways that humans can meet those needs? I have been stuck on this question for a while.

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