I know that this title will have some chomping at the bit in order to make a half baked response on what they think is in this article and I had to make clear with my last article concerning Richard Dawkins (previous articles on faith related matters have had a plethora of people spout a cacophony of nonsense and lies in the comments section because they either haven’t read or can’t grasp the concept)
So I will start with the same disclaimer as before. I have no faith at all – that being said, I do not force my lack of belief onto people who have faith and infact quite the opposite, I celebrate peoples right to follow a religion. I have much contact with people of many faiths and I am in no more of a position to prove their faith incorrect than they can prove the faith is. So exists a position of respect. Who knows? I may well be wrong and they are right? Or vice versa. Since neither of us can display the proof which answers the question beyond all reasonable doubt either way then we are both stuck in the same position. If you want to discuss this further (as it detracts from this article) then please read my piece on the Dawkins Delusion and comment there.
The hypothetical scenario
Let us imagine that tonight, a piece of proof, a discovery shows that all religion is false. Lets also assume for the purposes of this article that every person on the planet accepted this truth and tomorrow dawns a world of no faith at all. I know its rather unlikely this would happen, but for the sake of the direction of the article lets assume it did. What would a world be like without any religion? What would a world be like without any morals which have been derived from religious texts?
For the atheists (and especially the ones seemingly trying to seek approval from Mr Dawkins on Twitter) there would be a sigh of relief that they had backed the right horse. There would be no possibility of any fire and brimstone or little devils prodding them in the bottom with sharp forks. But how would this effect our morals? I’m going to show you why I believe (even as a person of no faith) that infact religion is a good thing for humanity and that far from being something which holds back mankind, it is infact saving us.
How can I do this? How is this possible? If you read on you’ll find out and the big bonus here is, unlike Mr Dawkins I’m not going to put my work into a book and sell it to you. If you’ve got the time to read, it’s all free.
If we cast our minds back to our scenario above, I’m going to stick with the UK as the location of my writing. I was born in the UK to a family whom adhered to a faith, I was one of the people Mr Dawkins would probably call brainwashed, as from a young age, I learnt I would be punished in the afterlife for unrepented sin in the present one. I was given no alternatives to chose from, no other faiths to try. It was all or nothing. After having my own journey (in a spiritual sense) I found that my belief system (or lack thereof) had me at odds with my families faith. But then, so what? Its not a big deal for me and its not for them since I don’t harp on at every oportunity about my views. I’m sure my parents hope I will one “day see the light” (no pun intended) but for now the matter of my faith is closed. Move on to myself being a parent and I actively encourage my children to be interested in faith, with one caveat – that their schooling exposes them to a multitude of beliefs/faiths not just one. I want my children understanding other peoples beliefs, but most importantly I want them to be respectful of anyone who chooses to have a faith, no matter which one it is. My children, as I did, will eventually have their own spiritual journey where they will decide if they have a belief or not.
So lets look at some no-no’s in the UK. UK law was created around a foundation of the religious beliefs of the time, just as it is elsewhere. There’s a well known one – thou shalt not kill – and there’s laws to deal with people who do. But forgetting about law and punishments for a second, if there is no faith in our fictitious world exampled above, who is to say killing is wrong? and I’d suggest that a removal of all faith would require us to re-examine every one of them. Whilst some atheists are very quick to highlight that religion can in some cases bring killing, can we not also say that for the many people who have faith, its whats stops them – like being damned, going to hell etc? If people knew there was no God seeing everything and sitting in judgement, what would they be capable of? Could we rely on a set of new morals thought up as a result of no religion/God when as far as divine judgement is concerned, there is no day of reckoning for whatever “sin” you perform. Now I should be fair and also mention that removal of some laws are a good thing. For example in the UK it is no longer illegal for two men to be partnered and of course this is a good thing. One could also argue though that the percieved “evils” of homosexuality were always just down to mans incorrect interpretation of religious texts and ergo the laws surrounding them. I’ve seen nothing in any religious text that clearly says when two people of the same sex are in love that they can’t form a relationship.
But who would pass our new morals? If God is removed from the equation, who is the person to say “We’ll keep that do not kill rule”? If you are an atheist, what tells you that killing another human is wrong? Where is the basis for that belief? What about theft? Where is your basis for your feelings on theft?
Religion has saved humanity?
It’s remarked that Richard Dawkins claims that religion has held back science. And yes, I’d probably agree. What I would add though is in that holding back, it has also saved or at least prolonged the human race.
Consider the people who dabbled in early chemistry and found cures/remedies. Some of these people were labelled witches and we all know what happened there. Is this holding back science? I’d say yes. If it had been a free for all then we probably would have had the things we have today much earlier. But in this one example of holding back, we can also say that religion has saved us.
Look at the modern world. I think its safe to say that a research team discovering a cure for a disease will not be labelled witches and as a result they will market their drug and many people will benefit. The research they conducted to cure the disease maybe of benefit to other scientists and so our journey of scientific advancement continues. But lets consider what else mankind has created when freed from accusations of witchcraft or religious text declaring such things blasphemous. The atomic bomb. Chemical weapons. New and unique ways to inflict suffering on each other. Suddenly the “witch” scenario doesn’t seem so bad, because if science had infact continued to be held back, we wouldn’t have such terrible things. Children are being born with defects brought about from legacies of chemical weapons, the environment is being pumped full of toxins. And what have we achieved? Yes we can extend life, cure disease, but then there is always a price to pay, that being we can now damage and destroy just as easily.
What about conscience? Do all humans in the absence of religion have a genetic desire to protect and not do harm to themselves? No of course not, so if you created a weapon that wiped out millions and you knew for a fact that there was no God, would you feel the same way if the reverse were true? If there is truly nothing, then really all law/rules are man made, so what’s to stop everyone who doesn’t agree merely refusing to comply? Rightly or wrongly, most religions have an element of a personal responsibility clause written into them, as in, you do wrong now, you’ll eventually be punished or pay the price. Remove this and what happens? Just how much of human morality and conscience (and what we consider civilized behaviour) is based around faith. Can we honestly say that even with no faith, there’s not a part of us still attached to religion, even if it’s only on the level of the ten commandments or similar? – I don’t think I can and whilst I have no faith, my belief in the wrongs of killing, theft etc must have roots in my childhood and exposure to faith. Remove those and what do you have?
Maybe faith has held back the human race, but in doing so has at least held back humans desire to find new and horrible ways to do harm to each other. New ways to exploit the earths resources and then fight over the land. If religion has only held this all back a few hundred years, then faith is a good thing, because in the absence of it (and the decline in society of morals) the human race has a more finite time on this earth than scientists can predict. And whilst Dawkins might claim Science being held back is bad, Religion has also fuelled humans creativity. Look at the religious art and buildings inspired by religion, the beautiful works (even if you have no faith) that have stemmed from subjects of faith. Or how about the pyramids? A feat of technical and artistic brilliance – they were created on the basis of a faith, if there had been no faith in which to follow, would they have ever even been built?
Evolution & Creationism – Where does conscience come from?
People seem to believe that these two theories are mutually exclusive. I argue differently and as I highlighted in my previous article, if you believe in evolution, I’m sure you’d agree that the “system” is pretty perfect and common sense. Now how do you prove that the perfect evolution is not infact designed by God? In this way both faith and science can hold hands quite happily. Because both faith and science have the same problem at heart – The creation of the universe. We could have a debate about how something from nothing comes into existence and show that you don’t need a God to create a universe, but proving that theory is another matter and it’s the exact same problem that people of faith have when they state that the universe is made by God. So if we agree that the way the universe works is not only pretty amazing, but pretty logical (from our understanding) and a well working system, then what’s to say that this perfect system of science is not a design by God?
You will often see an atheist (and usually a desperate one) when trying to push their non-belief use children as their example. Using them allows an emotional response and (they hope) an agreement with their non-belief. Don’t be surprised to see someone such as “Why doesn’t God help dying children?” – Its a very unsophisticated tactic and since we can neither prove nor disprove God, who is to say that after creating these perfect laws of Physics etc, God isn’t him/herself bound to them as well? Maybe God in his perfection designed a “program” for the universe to run under? And what of the children suffering through design of man? Chemical weapons, poisons in water, these are not things created by a religion, they are “great” scientific achievements which Dawkins would I’m sure would think have been held back in the past through faith.
I’d like to ask Mr Dawkins if he would think it ok to kill another person and if not the basis for his decision and any “morals” he might apply to it. I argue that conscience itself is born from faith and whether you continue that faith through adult life or not, the core of your conscience has more than a few ties to a religious text. Mr Dawkins and his merry men and women also claim children are brainwashed to have a faith. If that was the case, then we wouldn’t have a Dawkins would we? Unless Mr Dawkins is somehow claiming to be special and nobody else is able to work it out as he has. Maybe he thinks its his fate to educate a stupid world in the errors of faith? Well if that’s the case, I’d suggest he works out how to make remarks without upsetting people.
If Mr Dawkins says that religion has held science back, would he also then agree that conscience has too? Would he agree that a lack of conscience could be a very dangerous thing? or would he claim that humans would naturally “do the right thing”? If he did then I would like to know where this “right thing” comes from, presumably its genetic? – I’m asking question after question of Mr Dawkins when he will never answer. From what I’ve seen he rarely answers his twitter account and merely retweets people agreeing with him, praising him or tweets that promote the books he sells.
Rather than making that title to offend anyone, when you consider it properly, it’s certainly plausible. If you are of faith, he/she is a unique entity with no peers, no judgement etc, Religion exists because God him/herself designed it. God does not answer to a higher power, so by definition God is an atheist and all religion/faith stemming from them is their creation. Surely?
The point here is that like it or not, for the vast majority of adults, I’d say their moral compass has been developed by their upbringing and the religious influences that they have (no matter how small).
And if I was to make a point for faith, I could say that most religions have the believer striving to be closer to God. What if science as we understand it is actually created by God and as we understand it more we progress closer to him/her? Maybe faith over the years has been too much interpretation by humans with little understanding and maybe only now with our Hadron Colliders et al, we are getting closer to God in explaining his/her rules of the universe? – Food for thought there for both people of faith and atheists.
I think there is something holding back the human race right now. And this is the part of the article where it’s not just the atheist disciples of his non-holiness the Dawkins, its everyone, including those of all faiths. There are small fringe elements of every belief that refuse to engage in a simple thing called tolerance and respect. I personally love the fact that my friends have many different faiths, I’m always made welcome, I can be a “part” of that faith and see it for myself and I find faith a fascinating topic. It makes no difference to me what faith people have and if they get comfort and joy out of that faith, that’s great. – I can’t prove them wrong, nor would I want to thrust my views onto them. The people who seem to spend the most time talking about faith are usually the ones claiming to not have it. I would suggest to them, be happy in their non-belief and have a little consideration for the feelings of others. I see Atheism getting an incorrect and derogatory stigma at the moment and I blame people like Richard Dawkins and their army of disciples for helping foster it. Live and let live. If as an atheist you are truly happy with your non-belief, then get on with your life, enjoy yourself. It’s strikes me that many “atheists” are truly unhappy people and desperately seeking approval and validation of views which they are not convinced in totally. As a non-believer if you feel the need in the future to criticise the faith of others, just consider a world where there was no base morality, do you think we as humans would have been able to create a set of morals/rules without faith to guide us? Do you think early humans would have all got together and said “this is right, this is wrong”?
Personally I don’t think the Human race would have survived to invent the wheel without faith; and if you think the human race could survive without some “higher power” real or not to keep people in a base direction and to prevent us falling into anarchy, then I think you certainly are (to use a Dawkins word) deluded.