Somewhere near twelve billion years ago, nature expressed itself in one of its infinite variations, by violently exploding our universe into being.
Billions of years passed as gasses coalesced into ever denser bodies that ignited under tremendous gravitational force to become the first suns. Deep within their interior different elements took shape that eventually were to make up the matter we are and see today.
At the end of their lives, these suns themselves exploded from massive internal pressure, and spread new components in every direction.
Once again gravity dominated and new galaxies, suns and planets formed from the chaos. The universe was now equipped to randomly experiment with limitless chemical combinations and energy. Water, acids, rocks, elements and heat moulded planets into having vibrant ever-changing surfaces.
A non-descript and un-named planet Earth, against incredible odds, sparked an extremely basic initial life into being. Combined chemicals preying on other chemicals accelerated their position to that of prominence. As an evolutionary survival strategy, this rudimentary life developed the fundamental ability to replicate.
A billion years passed and simple life forms developed to accommodate the differing environments they found themselves in. Their soft bodies lived and died in the billions of billions, leaving little trace.
Eons of time eventually sorted the survivors from the losers, producing plants and animals that became the precursors of all life on Earth. This process is endless and ongoing.
Complexity and specialization grew and improved with each generation. Every genocidal set-back of asteroid hit, volcanic eruption, tectonic plate movement or ice age, giving other species a chance at evolving new options.
Pre-human species changed to human and knew none of the above. Their conscious world was a fearsome place with no knowledge of the science behind bountiful living or disastrous misfortune.
Observation of birth, life and then death initiated questions of origins and purpose. Their inquiries were only answered by a harsh nature and they assumed greater powers than themselves were in control of an uncertain destiny, punishing and rewarding at whim or request. The terrors of the dark nights and dreams convinced primitive minds of a supernatural realm beyond death. Placating the gods came into being and evolved with us on the journey through history to this present day.
Just a few hundred years ago science began to solve the mysteries that had perplexed humans since the time of the first non-instinctive thought. Science continues to do so.
It is understandable that our early ancestors accepted without question the existence of the thousands of historical gods, for it would be nigh impossible for them not to. The gods were a necessary part of our unenlightened climb to our present day status of having a reasonable understanding of nature. Each generation, with adult sanction, repetitiously instilled age old fears into its offspring. To be on the good side of all-powerful gods was, without question, the only logical choice.
Knowledge of the universe is now available to all educated cultures but still humanity is firmly held in the grip of superstition. Why is this so?
Even knowing the harm religions wreak on people and planet, it appears we are still frightened savages deep within. Yet knowing the place for super-natural events is being continuously pushed further aside by science and no such occurrence has ever been reliably recorded, we persevere with a hope it is all true.
So entrenched are our mortal fears, not even a cursory understanding of the incorrect “beliefs” of other cultures gives rise to the thought that our own are false as well. An arrogance of rightness pervades the minds of “religionists” on a world wide scale and all share part guilt in the atrocities committed in their name. This is an inescapable conclusion.
Societies which value freedom of thought appear to be loosening their need for godly protection but fail dismally in clearly and loudly enunciating such a view. The hold religions have on the lives and politics of individuals must be railed against on an intellectual level without call to the tyrannical methods so freely and unabashedly used by religions themselves.
To be a part of a democratic nation makes it a duty to be in visible opposition to all forces which promote inequality and injustice. To do nothing is making a conscious choice of compliance with an enemy of humanity.
Religions, all religions are patriarchal concerns and all women suffer to some extent under those regimes. Children, the least able to mentally defend themselves, are brainwashed into believing adult sanctioned truths, with adverse ramifications visiting them long after childhood is gone. That is one case each of injustice and inequality.
There is a very long list of religious impositions and offences ranging from the interference to proper democratic government in the introduction of legal voluntary euthanasia, to taxpayer-funded financial subsidies for the promotion of select brands of religion.
Religion has always been favourably buffered by portraying a false image of a harmless activity at the least and a great social benefit at the best. The good of religion is demonstrably far outweighed by the bad as the monotonous “evil” of brutal and irrational daily news is witness to.
Humanity is indoctrinating itself to believe in an anachronistic fantasy supported by personal fears of mortality, and is doing so against the vast insights of science, with the knowledge that our gullibility in believing the ridiculous knows no bounds. We are deserving of the title of this essay and it will turn out to be our epitaph if purposeful strides are not taken by all religious-detractors, to overcome this, our most worrisome of Achilles heels.
With the successful and happy survival of the planet at stake, those who class themselves as Atheists must make a visible, vocal and verbal stand against the outmoded blight that is religion.
This can be achieved by letters to newspapers and governments, via talk-back radio and most importantly, by joining groups recognising the seriousness of the problems the World is now encountering. A little thought shows there is no choice in this matter. Rather, we must match, live up to and continue the work of our illustrious predecessors, for to not do so, renders all their formidable sacrifice, futile.
By David Nicholls