As the majority of atheists, in common with most Australians and indeed most people throughout the world, were subjected to religious indoctrination as infants, a reasonable starting point for this comparison is to set forth what atheists have rejected.
The basis for acceptance of the doctrines of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim religions are:
1. an infallible book
2. an infallible church or governing body and
3. an infallible experience.
The basic doctrine of these religions is that everyone is a sinner through the inherited transgression of Adam and Eve. This tale is inherently immoral.
* Adam and Eve are described as being without knowledge of the difference between right and wrong and therefore are unable to make an informed judgment.
* The god Yahweh, knowing the choice that the ignorant couple would make, deliberately chose to tempt them by drawing their attention to the alluring tree that he had created.
* Instead of punishing the offenders, he decreed that all creation should suffer.
* The installation of propitiation through a blood sacrifice is typical of the bloodthirsty gods of most primitive beliefs.
* This vicarious sacrifice is the basis for the idea that the death of Jesus opens the way for the off-loading of guilt which is the primary doctrine of Christianity.
This doctrine opens the floodgate for transgression, then absolution in a repetitive cycle, as shown by the statistics of criminal offences by Roman Catholics.
It would be difficult to find a more immoral book than the Old Testament with its endorsement of lying, subversion, torture, slavery, murder, rape, incest, oppression and discrimination against women etc.
The record of the Christian Church has been documented by Dr Joachim Kahl in his book The Misery of Christianity with emphasis on the bloody Crusades, the tortures of the Inquisition and the dictatorial decrees of the Church – Roman Catholic Church in particular.
Morality cannot, and should not be imposed by religious power. Ethics are determined by society and must remain forever fluid to meet particular situations. The Jonestown USA massacre is a terrible reminder of the result of people deluded by ‘infallible’ experience.
We live in a natural world and can now explain most natural phenomena which in times past was believed to be evidence of the work of some supernatural being. Scientific knowledge and assessment of natural features through reason has demolished tens of thousands of imaginary gods and supernatural beings such as fairies, elves, imps, genii, etc. There is no empirical knowledge of anything supernatural and atheists are honest enough to accept that position.
The three major religions in Australia are dependent on the belief that every person has a supernatural immortal element called a ‘soul’. There is no evidence for such and a little thought soon disposes of this idea.
When in the evolutionary chain did humanoids receive a soul? At what point in the formation of a human being does a person receive a ‘soul’? It cannot be at the moment of fertilisation because, from time to time, within a short period the dividing cells form twins, triplets, etc. Is the initial ‘soul’ thereupon divided into two, or are more persons or new ‘souls’ provided for the new potential individuals?
Science has now demonstrated that every cell has the potential to form a clone of the original, which would imply that each cell has a ‘soul’.
The concept of a ‘soul’ has been exploited by religion to enforce compliance with particular moral standards through fear of the torments of hell or to gain the bliss of heaven – a most unworthy stratagem.
There is no evidence of any supernatural, immortal element in humans, and atheists reject that concept. We believe that the only experience of life we will ever have is here and now. This is a very powerful incentive to make this life the best possible and to make the attainment of the full potential for each person a worthy goal.
Atheists accept responsibility for their own actions. We recognise that the world is beset by many problems but, conscious that every problem and difficulty in the past has been overcome through the exercise of reason, we choose to rely on reason, not faith, to solve present and future Gordian knots. Faith cannot remove an anthill but every day humans move mountains through the methods dictated by reason.
Atheists reject discrimination against women and work against discrimination in every sphere. We see no reason why religious bodies are exempt from paying tax but an atheist organisation is not exempt. Why should a couple who choose a non-religious wedding conducted by a celebrant have to pay more than a couple married by a priest?
Why should a terminally ill person suffering intense pain and loss of dignity not be allowed to die at a time of their choosing?
Who denies the right of women to use contraceptives and who denies the right to abortion? – the major Christian Church. Atheists are the champions of liberty.
Note the religious background and belief of the dictators of the last century. Who dupes the gullible by claiming to turn wine into blood?
What is the major cause of war and confrontation in Ireland, Yugoslavia, Cypress, Palestine, India, etc today? What organisation denies the right of people to democracy?
The principles, which underlie atheism, are the only logical hope for a peaceful, prosperous world in the years ahead.
Religion is dependent on infant indoctrination – Hindus beget Hindus, Muslims beget Muslims and Christians beget Christians.
Atheism is the result of mature evaluation of factual information leading to the conclusion that there is no credible evidence for belief in a personal god or any supernatural being.
By Keith S Cornish