Hi! I made a post a few days ago which was basically about how I became an atheist after being raised in a place where Theism and specifically Catholicism are so spread that they are the default option. This default option is considered to be the best or at least the most harmless one while atheism or agnosticism are considered deviations from the norm and should be justified if professed.
In my last post I considered my de-conversion as a relatively easy happening. It only took a little bit of the scientist nature that is somewhere in every human, a little more of thinking outside the box – that was facilitated by the fact that I was an outcast from the beginning-, some anti authoritarian way of thinking, and the chain of reactions was set. Now, if the formula for de-conversion can be achieved so easily (it seems), then what is keeping other people from discovering it, even by accident?
In The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, he writes about this spectrum of possibilities about human’s approach on the subject of God.
- Strong theist. 100 per cent probability of God. In the words of C. G. Jung, ‘I do not believe, I know.’
- Very high probability but short of 100 per cent. De facto theist. ‘I cannot know for certain, but strongly believe in God and live my life on the assumption that he is there.’
- Higher than 50 per cent but not very high. Technically agnostic but leaning towards theism. ‘I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God.’
- Exactly 50 per cent. Completely impartial agnostic. ‘God’s existence and non-existence are exactly equiprobable.’
- Lower than 50 per cent but not very low. Technically agnostic but leaning towards atheism. ‘I don’t know whether God exists but I’m inclined to be sceptical.’
- Very low probability, but short of zero. De facto atheist. ‘I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.’
- Strong atheist. ‘I know there is no God, with the same conviction as Jung “knows” there is one.’
In the biggest monotheistic religions, like Christianism, there’s no room for doubt. This is one of the most amazing tricks religion has to offer, as humans are always eager to ask questions, and try to discover how everything works. But no, religion demands their followers to be a 1, regardless of what they really believe in. Now, how many people are really a 1? I mean if they really allowed themselves to break out of the “faith” thing for a second, it is only natural that they start considering other points of view until they find their own. Then they might still decide to believe in a god, but more as a 2. At least a 2 would be open to the idea that other people might not believe in what they believe. It’s a big step really. It is not what people believe in what concerns me the most, but what they think they know, as the latter is potentially dangerous – of course being a 2 also comes with its own dangers as I’ll explain later.
Unfortunately, the thing that is keeping people in the 1 category is faith. This faith is the single most valuable thing one can have as a religious person. From what I know about Catholicism, there are hundreds and hundreds of tales about the value of faith, and how people with total and absolute belief in something for which there’s no real reason to believe in, are greatly rewarded.
When you are a 1, you are not likely to consider other ideas on the subject of god than your own, not even by accident – even if you like asking questions and following scientific methods in other areas. You won’t consider them because whenever you see them you are supposed to pretend you didn’t, immediately assume the ideas and the producer of the ideas to be wrong, and finally shrug the off as “temptation” and go back to your world of faith feeling very happy about your “strength”. Really, there’s no other way to stay a 1, being such an absolute position as it is.
Now, you’re going to say that most people you meet are not really that radical, I give you that. Maybe you’re a religious person who is also “cool” about other people having different ideas. You probably agreed with me in my last post when I mentioned the live and let live part. You’re not preaching or threatening other people, you simply hold your own set of beliefs and you’re entitled to have them, and other people are entitled to have theirs, and so on, and we all live happily.
Well, yeah, sure. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?
The problem here is that the demonization of atheism and agnosticism caused by faith and the ones who follow has a higher impact than that. For whatever reason, even if you’re not a strong religious person, you will still consider religion to be it a much safer and convenient way. After all, they’re threatening you with eternal damnation. Atheists on the other hand are not threatening you. So where will you go? Fear is one of the strongest motivators you will ever have. Of course then, to avoid cognitive dissonance, you will make yourself believe that there’s a higher reason, that after all it is your faith. Of course, other people can do whatever they want, but this is what you believe in. Right?
I wonder how many religious people have actually thought it through and not just followed the easier path that is laid there for pretty much everyone since they’re born. Going to the other side looks dangerous, demonic and evil after all. So, yes, the majority of religious people are probably not fundamentalist. But they don’t need to. A path has been set, and the rest have followed this way for so long, that now it is a very well carved road that now nobody even has to walk along, as they can just slide. I think for the most part humans really have good intentions. Most people probably don’t want any bad things to happen, they want everyone to get along – ok, maybe if everyone joined their faith it would be better, but if they don’t then that’s fine too. Everyone is happy. Or are they?
I think our biggest fault is to be too naive – both religious and non religious people. We want to follow our beliefs easily, without really wanting to consider the impact this passiveness has on everything.Withdrawing oneself from it all is not such an innocent position as you might think it is.
To be continued…