Religious apologists often have a single stumbling block question to my "The right to swing your fist ends where another man's nose begins" mentality.
To be perfectly honest, I don't care what you worship, who you worship or how you worship as long as it doesn't bother me or kill innocents. Seems like a pretty liberal mentality until you stop and really consider just how much religion does indeed 'bother' me by using the tax system as a moral enforcement code.
...and it happens, you know. Quite often.
Why is it that two different actions that are both illegal for the exact same reason could possibly have different consequences? Well, because the public attaches a stigma to some crimes but not others, and often this stigma is born of religious influences in our everyday lives.
Why is that cell phone related traffic collisions are treated far differently than alcohol related traffic collisions?
They both kill the same amount of people each year. They both impair your ability to drive a car in much the same fashion. They both require that the opporators of said vehicles make an irresponsible decision.
Why is it that only a misdemeanor DUI requires admission on a job application, but no other misdemenors do, including tickets for texting while driving? Can you imagine 8 hour mandatory lock up for use of a cell phone while in traffic? Cell companies would throw a fit.
Or how about the way these accidents are even recorded? Why is it that if a drunk pedestrian stumbles into the road and gets hit by a car, it's still counted as an alcohol related accident? Or hell, this is a true story from my own teenage years. A guy friend of mine suffered a tire blow-out on the freeway. It caused his car to overturn at high speeds. Our friend was ejected from the vehicle and died on impact. Because my friend's dad had been hunting that weekend, there were empty beer cans in the back of the truck, all sealed up with the other camping garbage. The presence of those cans, despite both my friends testing negative for alcohol still made it an alcohol related death. Yeah. And that was announced in our local newspapers. Imagine how that wrecks a 17 year old's life.
If you told the American public that a single element is found in almost 100% of fatal accidents in the U.S, there would be someone out there who would have good grounds to call for laws SEVERELY restricting the possession of that element. We are talking lock-it-in-your-trunk-or-minimum-jail-sentence type restrictions.
But because cell phones are "good" and alcohol is "bad" we have tougher crimes, nastier stigma and absurd allowances surrounding the statistics (which of course influence the tougher laws) for alcohol but not for cell phones (or other types of negligent behavior that result in traffic death.)
But back up.
If I make the choice to drive a car after three beers and it makes my reaction time too slow to miss a pedestrian that steps off the curb, how is that worse than text messaging my friend and glancing up just in time to make the same guy a hood decoration in the exact same way? Why does the presence of alcohol make me a worse person?
Because a bunch of angry white men stood in front of pews and shouted out that alcohol was evil.
So besides the fact that religion
DOES influence my life in ways that annoy me and weaken our judicial system, religion itself makes us weaker as a species.
'Faith' described as putting your trust in a benevolent, powerful outsider robs your own intellect of it's natural problem solving skills. Like any muscle, the brain starts to atrophy if it isn't used. Maybe that is why old devout people seem so peaceful. Psychologically, they are getting ready for death. They are seeking out patterns and behaviors that trigger a calming response to help sooth their way into the inevitable. These patterns and behaviors are generally from a source of comfort -their church, their community, their faith. That is how faith HELPS us as a species.
But just like we crave fat and salts because a little went a long way as we were evolving, too much of a good thing can literally kill us.
People that are genetically predisposed to larger bodies can sometimes also be genetically predisposed to forms of compulsive eating disorders, too. That is one hell of a powerful demon to fight.
People predisposed to feeling more disgust or fear coupled with the codependency need of community approval and further complicated with addiction issues? Hey, church is like crack to some people. I think we have all seen that. This is where abortion clinic pipe bombers come from, folks.
Evolution works slow. Even with the modern advances in medicine (and ignoring that it's modern farming techniques that allow us to literally eat ourselves to death) eventually those groups of humans in the unhealthy weight class will have less healthy offspring that will in turn have less healthy offspring until those genetics are changed, become dormant (something science is still working to understand) or die off all together.
Psychology and Biology aren't as far removed from one another as you could imagine. After all the needs of the body dictate the behavior of the body, right? Behaviors repeated generation after generation for whatever reason can become disposition. Any dog breeder can tell you that. Why is it such a difficult leap for humans to accept? "She's got her daddy's temper." is a favorite saying of my friend and her child. See how we recognize it in laymen's terms?
Religion is simply a pattern of behavior that (due to a variable of factors) can go out of control.
All things in moderation including moderation, right?
So just like any other undesirable trait in the branches of human evolution, religious fanatics will just keep blowing themselves up one garage, suicide and crusade at a time. Someday in the far, far future, there won't be any of them left. Their behaviors are destructive and no longer strengthen our species. They kill themselves, others and the environment at large. The few redeeming qualities of their behavior patterns are far outweighed by the violence and destruction that come as a package. Because of their destructive flaws, natural selection weeds them out. There is all of recorded history to reference in citing this point.
We won't be around to see it, but as atheists our creation story is still unfolding.
It keeps rolling along, and because our knowledge of the human body is only a sliver in our mere few hundred years of education, we can barely weigh that against millions of years of natural selection and the few fossils and records it left behind. We are arrogant up here at the top of the food chain, and rightfully so. But we aren't done yet. Our behaviors and anatomy are still evolving, because that is the nature of our universe. Inertia is just as present in biology as it is in physics. We are nothing but the potential of what we might become, and that is a beautiful yet troubling thought.