The last item is of special concern and important because there are people in our lives who we may care about and who have faith, or participate in prayer, ritual or attend religious services. So how then do we create a space where non-theists do not accommodate - that is give faith any of its supposed "due" - while at the same time ensure that all voices are free to participate fully and as often as possible on the site or in other real or virtual communities.
The idea of creating a post which states "Challenging the Grand Lie" may seem combustible at first. But if we think about the difference between organized religion and those who may follow its tenets, the position can be nuanced in several ways.
Faith and organized religion are not necessarily the same thing. There are those who hurt no one who do good works and who are believers in a personal god. These people may or may not attend houses of worship but attempt in small and big ways to bring humanity closer by relieving some form of pain.
However, more often than not, and in both subtle and overt ways, there are many religious people and religions that actively seek, create or promote faith communities (tribal, super-local or whole nations) that do harm based on their beliefs and tenets. There is no such thing as positive faith no matter how liberal, non-violent or accepting. But there are those who are liberal, non-violent and accepting who may be spiritual and those are who we must build the bridge or connection.
For those of us without faith, we view organized religion as the central cause of most of the historic and current world suffering. This is not done out of ignorance. Not only do we have the historical record to support this view, but certainly we or members of our community may have been subject to some form of religious persecution or violence.
From speaking and listening to many in the non-theist community, religion is seen as a subjective and un-provable interpretation of ancient texts which promote false truth and is meant to control human actions through fear as:
· Religion tells us to love one another, but it causes death and hatred, it tells us to turn a cheek but supports endless war, it tells us not to throw stones at glass houses, but states who may marry and which reproductive rights should be strictly defined and enforced. It tells us to act morally, but those same bibles accept slavery and the subjugation of women
· Organized faith typically supports the social economic status quo based on gender, class, ethnicity over some social contrivance or philosophical idea. Organized religion is the hallmark of empire and social and intellectual imperialism
· Religion tells us to see god in nature when no such entity is needed or necessary. It tells us that those who follow a particular sect or faith will be given special privileges, while others will not. It tells us to mutilate our bodies as well as when and what to eat. Even if mutilation causes pain and food prohibitions deny those who are sick or hungry sustenance
· Organized religion requests the faithful to do good deeds in the name of a personal god, to pray and be mindful, yet it also asks for money to support itself in the billions of dollars, keeping the "keepers of the book" in luxury, while their followers may live in squalor. In modern times organized religion is spared taxation, thus taking and using resources within a community without returning anything of value
· Religion builds communities, but also separates people and strictly regulates codes of conduct. It asks the youngest to participate in ritual but may betray their trust by using them for immoral acts. It covers up those acts by ignoring allegations, moving offenders to different locations, chooses corporate denial and obfuscation, or makes requests for special legal dispensation to avoid prosecution or damages
· Organized religion promises believers either access to an unproven heaven and happy afterlife or eternal suffering and damnation. It requires those who wish to enter heaven not to question anything the organized religion and its leadership does. This essentially makes people into sheep or banishes them through excommunication or other ritual if they falter from accepted religious teachings
We would challenge those who do good works in the name of their personal god or spiritual faith, to try the same behavior but remove pleasing god from their motivation. In this case "god" can be a spiritual center, parent, cultural idea, lay leader, or holy person. Replace such an idea with humanism which requires no theism. We challenge those who believe they must follow the tenets of a holy book to think for themselves and not feel tied to traditions which in the context of space and time, will most certainly change and appear foreign to future generations.
We challenge those who believe metaphor instead of reality to find joy and happiness in being present for others not for the sake of faith or a personal deity. But to be present because it means we are connected to one another in spite of the notion that pre-requires faith or the eventual transmutation to some far off magical place for eternity.
We challenge believers to find joy in building communities that accept science before religion and to accept that things which we cannot explain will be knowable through science. That human knowledge which connects rational answers to facts rather than magical thinking are better explanations for the mechanics of the universe.
There is no doubt that faith may give one solace in extraordinary or painful times. However, like any mind altering states, such solace does not last long and one needs greater doses of belief to reach the same level of religious euphoria. Many see religion, far from being benign, but as a corrupting force that promises and takes more than it gives. It divides much more than it bonds; it creates more suffering than it heals. Faith, as a social and psychological construct is essentially a debilitating force which ultimately works like a virus to spread while at the same time attacking it’s host.
If we can survive past our archaic beliefs, then rationality and technology will lead to the next phase of our evolution. Accepting them now rather than holding onto religious faith will cure what ills humanity.