The title seems to be overstating the Atheist viewpoint. It is OK not to believe too whole-heartedly in the existence of the supernatural but making Atheism to be near mandatory is overstating that position. Or is it?
Looking through the kaleidoscope of history shows that Atheism has been to the fore since records began. At every juncture of scientific advance or moral enlightenment, Atheism has persuaded humankind that the rational choice was the only one. Sometimes it has taken centuries for the cry of reason to muffle accepted superstitions but the persistence of Atheist endeavour has generally been successful.
Witches are no longer hunted down and killed, slavery is not considered a viable or moral option amongst the educated, nor are gay people seen as an evil enemy in a more sane society.
These, and a multitude of like things, were caste aside because the enemy that is religion had a line in the sand and its position on these matters was very clear. And it was clearly just wrong and well proven to be so.
Religion has learnt from these catastrophic defeats and now plays a more subtle and sinister role in the affairs of educated humans, by working largely in an underground fashion. The inquisitor is now disguised as policy formulated by religious people who have intentionally, by request of church leaders, ensconced themselves in private and government positions of power. Decisions that need cool-headed thinking are more and more being made by those afflicted with religion.
Disconcerting as this is, the extent of such a bias in democracy is an unknown. How many decisions are made with godhead as the swaying factor is a secret. What is known is that some politicians, trapped by their education, and working through movements such as The Lyons Forum, propose and endorse legislation which is not in the best interest of individuals or society. This process continues through the decision-making system and there is no doubt that it permeates all levels of our society.
That we cannot make a quantitative evaluation of these religious forces, which, during the Dark Ages held humanity to ransom, is enough to suspect the worst. This assessment rests on the governmental financial indulgence for private schools and the treatment of the under financed in our society, based on the idea that if you are good you will have money. The power of religion is seen in the rejection of voluntary euthanasia, neglect of the plight of gays, aboriginal people and single mothers, republic phobia and the ecological situation. The belief that god will provide still prevails in parliament and elsewhere. The Bible observation that the ‘love of money is the root of all evil’, has long been disregarded by religion which continues to see situations in terms of black or white. You are either good and self-made (ahem, like I) or you are bad, lazy and self-unmade like them.
In Australia, even with a good working democracy, we are still ‘troubled’ by direction from the indoctrinated. Be aware that, under our system of government, these forces are restrained but that does not apply in many elsewhere, and there, oft-times, the easy (and wrong) solutions are applied.
Winston Churchill described ‘Democracy’ as the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time. We see systems based on the imagined words of those whom believers consider to be supernatural persons and take steps to ensure that such systems never apply here.
The Church is having more and more difficulty coming to terms with ever-expanding scientific knowledge and is becoming bogged down in ethical debate, thereby hindering the human race. Technological advances are about to explode into unbroken scientific territory of profound discovery and one of those bangs will be nano-technology and then, perhaps, a replicating machine. As fanciful as that may sound, the push for nano-technology will become one of the top priorities of science. Products made atom by atom to order. Any product, in fact, anything. Even humans. This appears inevitable and of such importance that equating it with extra-terrestrial contact (a most unlikely event), is not an exaggeration.
The American Atheists currently march and protest for the maintaining of the separation of Church and State and against the rich, numerous and vociferous fundamentalists. Australian society cannot see the enemy and therefore does not react by supporting a vibrancy of Atheism. In a similar way many females enjoying the benefits of equality are no longer aware of the struggle which provided the present position.
Before a rapidly changing technological world is upon us with numerous ethical questions and decision-making, I warn that this monster, known as ‘religion’, has to be disarmed while it is faltering under the realities of science. It is of the utmost importance that superstitious nonsense is no longer transmitted by indoctrination of the young, and religion must be open to the same scrutiny as any other influential subject.
Worldwide societies could be on the verge of freedom from poverty of every type. If, during the next 50 years (and that is asking a lot) we can make it through the religious, financial and political quagmires which threaten our planet, we could be a very different kind of humanity.
With no worries about survival, eating, sickness or dying, imagine how the religious will rage against the happiness that could be everywhere. You can just bet that everything enjoyable will be a ‘sin’.
Unfortunately, religious organisations have never been enthusiastic in regard to innovation and their actions will continue to impair the forward march into and unknown technological realm. We will need a progressive decision-making system. To allow a religious dilly-dally, with its roots back in century ‘dot’, could be the most dangerous luxury ever afforded to a fantasy.
It is hoped that the public perception of unjust interference by the ‘righteous’ will not be globally tolerated, because their antiquated input greatly threaten future survival.
At this conjuncture Atheists will meet the devil head-on and, if history is a guide, we and humanity will prevail.
Important to be Atheist? IT IS VITALLY IMPORTANT.
By David Nicholls