One of the criticisms I see frequently levelled at militant atheists is that no one can prove that there are no gods or goddesses and so the belief that there is no god is not grounded in hard evidence any more than the belief that there IS a god. If spiritual religions were merely centred around a belief in a creator figure (god, goddess or multiple combinations of the two) then that criticism would have some validity I think. However religions are based, not just on the belief in a creator figure’s existence, but also in the belief that that creator figure worries about what we individual humans do with our lives and controls our destinies. And that, to put it bluntly, is fucking absurd.
Just a basic knowledge of astronomy should make it obvious that any creature or creatures old enough and powerful enough to have created the ENTIRE UNIVERSE is not going to give a shit what we do with our genitals, what foods we eat or what we carry around or do on certain days of the week. We are talking about a universe who’s age is reckon in BILLIONS of years, and just thinking about the distances between stars makes my head spin! Consider that the speed of light is around 671 million miles an hour yet it takes light from the nearest star to us (Proxima Centauri) over four YEARS to reach us! Even if someone became World Dictator and initiated a nuclear war that lead to the total destruction of Planet Earth, on a cosmic scale it would be an event of such trivial significance that it wouldn’t even register on some universal creator’s radar, yet the majority of this planet’s population live their lives enslaved to man-made moral codes which they’ve been conned into believing are the dictates of the creator of the universe!
I think it is our very insignificance of the cosmic scale that has led to these beliefs surviving into the modern age. They provide a psychological comfort blanket in the face of the knowledge that in fact we are one of several billion microbes scurrying around for a mere speck of time (compared to the age of the planet) on an utterly insignificant ball of rock that orbits one of a near infinite number of yellow dwarf stars. Of course the same holds true with the belief in the immortal soul and the afterlife, which protects the theist from confronting the notions that once he is dead he is gone and that if he wants to be remembered after his death he has to leave something of worth behind, and that no one gives a shit what he does with his life except the people he comes into direct contact with or can influence.
I just find it hard to respect such backwards thinking though. Replacing a gap in ones knowledge with mystical mumbo jumbo is the act of the primitive mind. The advanced mind, the Isaac Newtons and Benjamin Franklins of this world, saw natural phenomena they didn’t understand and said to themselves “its about time to figure that out” and they set about conducting experiments to try and work out what was causing it. And if they couldn’t figure it out they put a question mark there – “we can’t work it out now but one day we will”. The primitive tribesman on the other hands sees a volcano erupting, doesn’t know what causes it and concludes “um fire god be angry” then gets down on his knees to pray and appease said fire god or pays the tribe ju ju man to do it for him. That’s it, case closed, no need for further investigation or experiment. Now, we understand much about the working of the human mind, we can measure brain activity, we know it is the result of chemical changes and electrical impulses etc and we can measure when that activity stops and the human being stops being alive and turns into a piece of decaying meat. But we don’t fully understand how that activity translates into what we call consciousness. But that is no reason to fill that gap in our knowledge with rubbish likes “souls” “spirits” or “reincarnation”. That puts the religionist alongside the aforementioned tribesman, quivering on his knees trying to appease the mountain god! Fuck that, I’d rather stand alongside the Isaac Newtons and Benjamin Franklins! I am happy to respect someone’s opinion, even if I don’t agree with it, if they can put forward a reasoned and logical argument in favour of it. But beliefs based on insecurity, ignorance and backwards thinking? No, sorry, as far as I am concerned they are worthy only of mockery and derision.