I hear a lot of arguments on here about the evils of religion and it always makes me think.
Wouldn't the evils of religion be the weakest argument for being atheist? Going on the assumption that most atheists are people of reason, shouldn't the existence or non-existence of a God be your major and almost sole purpose for being atheist? If it is because of the evils of religion, isn't your position just a position of anger and leave you in a very vulnerable place?
As a atheist I always look at what I see as the things that show me there can't be a God. That is the proofs or lack of. Yes I do see the inconsistencies of many religious texts and that goes to the proof or not of their positions. Having said that, the evils of religion is not my reason for being atheist. To be that doesn't prove the existence of God one way or another, that proves the evil of the people that profess to believe in a religion and how they use it.
I do agree with you to a point. The belief in this God you speak of will soon come up. The mere existence of a person who influence our life does make a difference.
Looking at this hypothetical group. There will be a conversation at some point that they say, "Joe thinks this way and because of that, we act this way because of what we learned from him." Then you ask where is Joe? Where does that leave you with that group that supposedly does not know where Joe is. They say, "He just exists". Then they ask you, "You don't see or feel him?". Now what do you do? Do you say yes because they are good people?
A good example if people who believe in the horoscope. There is no way to avoid that discussion even if their belief is benign. So in the end I can't agree with you. Your using the unicorns as an example isn't good because the discussion never comes up because you know no one who believe they exist.
In the end, someone's belief in the existence of something good or not will affect their lives and become part of the discussion even if there isn't a underlying doctrine.
Heather I agree with you. It is never the trappings of the hate of any group, i.e. religion, it is the hate within the people. The religion is the convenient excuse to use to defend their hate.
We have to realize people can use atheism to do the same sort of things. You can use science, like Darwinism to drive your hate. Example, if you use Social Darwinism, you can justify discrimination of all sorts. Would it be a perversion of it, yes, but it can be used. So in the end is religion the root of all this evil or is it the use of religion to justify this hate, these abuses? My view is not that religion is inherently evil. Religion is just another tool of the powerful and the hateful to go about doing their business. I never argue against the existence of religion, I argue against the convenient use of it by ones who otherwise use another avenue to justify their injustices. Used to get others on their side.
So I am appalled by the depravity of people. I never look at the religion as the cause of it.
"Wouldn't the evils of religion be the weakest argument for being atheist?"
that's not a reason to be an atheist at all. so i agree with you. it's weak. (btw, i don't anyone who uses this claim as their reason for being an atheist.)
"shouldn't the existence or non-existence of a God be your major and almost sole purpose for being atheist?"
sort of, it's more about the lack of ANY evidence one way or another to support the hypothesis that there is a god, or anything like a god, any god.
. . . right, it's up to an atheist to find good reasons for rejecting belief claims. One way of doing so is by understanding that there are philosophies of life which are coherent, rational, require no allegiance to faith. Do a search on 'Epicurus'. You'll see immediately why xians have always hated his views, have sought to demean his life, and destroy his works. Epicurus' thoughts survived as an underground presence despite xian persecution for 2,000 years.
one ancient (and one modern) antidote to irrationality and hatred
Xianity has hated rational thought (philosophy) ever since Stoics and Epicureans laughed at P/Saul of Tarsus (fl 50-65 CE). While preaching to Athenian philosophers about a minor jewish doctrine of bodily resurrection turned into insane mythology (Acts17:18 NIV), he had to stop and retreat from the the Agora, traditional space for free and open debates.
The demands of faith -- obedience, submission to authority, violation of rationality -- are inconsistent with ancient and modern democracy, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience.
• Whatever xians hate deserves a closer look as something likely to be good.
Three hundred years before the earliest xian cults, the Greek philosopher Epicurus (340-270 BCE) devised and openly shared a philosophy of nature based on atomism and a philosophy of life (an ethic) based on a rational pleasure principle.
•...live like a god among ordinary people.
Epicurus' conclusions drawn from his atomism and ethic are distilled into four statements. The tetrapharmakos = 4-fold cure for anxiety: what about gods, suffering, death?
Don`t fear god,
Don`t worry about death;
What is good is easy to get, and
What is terrible is easy to endure.
-- Philodemus from a Herculaneum scroll (100 BCE)
• What's the best life to lead?
Epicurus' own advice to a follower:
"Think about these things [in my texts]...yourself, and with a companion like yourself, and you will never be disturbed while awake or asleep. But you will live like a god among ordinary people. For those who live among immortal blessings are not like mortal beings."
The modern French philosopher Michel Onfray presents an a-theology worthy of intellectual respect which updates Epicurus given 200 years of textual scrutiny of xian texts, of middle-eastern history, of modern psychology and sociology. Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.