Faith Under Attack

One day, a friend sent me to a list of interesting comments made by people in reference to being asked whether they believed religion and faith were "under attack." I found the following quote most interesting:

From Monica Jones of Wilmington, Delaware

I am one of the millions of individuals who do not practice any religion. I am a proud non-believer and am far more concerned with religion's encroachment in political matters than its absence. The recent supreme court decision that gives a presidential free pass for faith based initiatives funding is indicative of how far astray the U.S. has come from the Treaty of Tripoli and the stated purpose of the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Religion needs to be under attack. It is long overdue. Those who profess to have the absolute understanding of the will of a divine being need to be willing and able to defend their assertions in a public forum. There needs to be proof for the prophesy in order to bind our science and public policy to religious doctrine. Until those proofs are offered, religion needs to be relegated to the realm of mythology where it belongs. The American public should not be called upon to subsidize religion with our tax dollars nor silenced from rigorously challenging its dictates.

I think she's pretty much right on. I don't believe in "attacking" a PERSON over faith at all, but I do believe (as Ms. Jones above does) that if someone is going to suggest that our money (in taxes) and our behavior (in laws that permit and restrict what we do based on morals supposedly extracted from some religion's holy books) be controlled by something in a religious doctrine, it should not be because of the religious doctrine. It needs to be true, it needs to be real, and it needs to be demonstrable.

"What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence." --Christopher Hitchens

For way too long people have expected to get special treatment of their religious beliefs. Look, if you're an aspiring surgeon no one is going to give you a job if you can't back up your "beliefs" about surgery. If you've never tested a surgical technique, can't give any good logical reasons why it would work, but swear on your best friend's grave that this surgical technique works . . . well, not only will you not be hired at the hospital, but you'll probably be laughed at. To your face. Now, in religion, if we're going to be asked to base life-or-death decisions, government policies, and "moral" practices (like whether gay people can get married) on FAITH in someone's interpretation of a divinely inspired book . . . I'm sorry, guys, but we have the right to ask you to back it up with something more than "My god said so."

Okay, let's say your god really did say so. Now what is it about saying so in that book that precludes Him from saying so in any other way? If He talks to you, why isn't He talking to me? Oh, is it that sad suggestion that it's because I haven't opened my heart to Him and thus can't hear Him? No, I openly admit that if the Creator of the Universe is speaking, I'd love to hear it; it's just that I don't think He IS talking, at least not that way (and He also isn't saying those things--no decent deity WOULD say some of those things). It's kind of like the way skeptics like James Randi shoot down psychic channelers and whatnot when they claim that a skeptic's vibes are throwing them off: "If I can stop you from being able to perform by NOT BELIEVING YOU CAN DO IT, how useful are your powers anyway?" Oh, isn't that convenient--you have to already believe in it before you can see it work! Do we have to clap our hands and scream that we DO believe in God for Him to get enough self-esteem to prove it? (Oh wait, I think that was fairies.)

If something is real, it is real. If it is real, the evidence is everywhere. No tricks. No need to pore over a book for the real truth when that book says right inside it that it's the only truth. I am as capable of finding this truth as anyone else.

But there're people running around screaming that their FAITH and their WAY OF LIFE is being ATTACKED. Honey, no one is attacking your way of life. They are attacking your assertion that your personal beliefs about the universe, which have NO RATIONAL BASIS WHATSOEVER (by your own admission!), are not good platforms to build our laws on. And your response is to say "I SHOULDN'T HAVE TO BE RATIONAL, BECAUSE GOD IS NOT RATIONAL AND BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH" oh save it. If you say you don't HAVE to be rational but you want us to base our lives around your interpretation of the Bible despite that, then you have opened a can of worms. If you have no rational basis for your beliefs and you're asserting that you shouldn't have to because religion holds this special "can't be criticized" box in your head, then anyone else can do it too. What if someone suggested we disband the government support of fire rescue services because their faith said magic rituals to call the rain could replace them?


Don't get offended that the rest of us want you to justify your beliefs. That's misdirection of the worst kind. Suddenly the "fight" begins to be about who has the right to ask someone else to justify himself. That's not the point. It should be self-evident that you need to justify what you believe in the context of the people who are going to have to live by it. If you're going to try to force it on us through LAWS put into play by members of the government YOU as the majority elected because they have the same religious beliefs as you do . . . then you damn well better expect to provide a reason that makes some sense.

I attack illogical reasoning. I attack dishonesty, including the intellectual kind (which LOTS of people fall victim to when they trick themselves into believing a "given" that is NOT given). I don't attack people and I don't care if you want to believe something that I think is silly. But keep your God "hypothesis" out of my science classes, and keep your religious beliefs out of my courtrooms.

Thank you.

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Comments from others:

Wolfgang: I think people will gravitate more toward people whose morals are "I do exactly what this book implies I should do, no questions asked." than people who go "If we look at the from a Kantian Deontologist perspective, it's really a good idea, but if we were to adopt a Utilitarian point of view, it'd be evil. I'll have to think about this."

Andrea: Thank you for putting into words what exactly I find so appallingly STUPID about the whole "you have to be tolerant of my intolerance" shenanigans that I see a lot when it comes to (some) religious folk pushing their beliefs into laws that oppress others. It's just the most vile cop-out I've ever heard. Consequently, when I hear it I'm too stunned by the inherent ridiculousness that I just can't reply in an intelligent manner. "I don't hate gay people I'm not homophobic I just believe they deserve fewer rights than me on sheer basis of their harmless difference and you have to respect that because it's my belief." NO. NO NO NO NO NO. NO!!! *phew* anyway very intriguing essay :) have a nice day!