Humans Do Not Need to Comfort Themselves With Fairy Tales

Posted on January 24, 2008. Filed under: Atheism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

A response to Peter Bowden’s “God, Atheism, and Human Needs

Kelly O’Connor

Jan. 24, 2008

The idea that human beings universally need some form of mythological belief has been one of the mainstays of the defenders of faith for centuries. They claim that even if god doesn’t exist or religion causes violence and hatred, it’s acceptable because it makes some people feel better about the harsh realities of life. This is a multi-pronged deceptive ploy used to abdicate themselves from any responsibility for those actions and to keep people thinking that their assertion is correct.

Many people have either been raised without theistic belief or have abandoned theism and discovered even greater meaning and value for their lives. Peter Bowden assumes in his article “God, Atheism, and Human Needs” that proponents of atheism such as Dawkins, Hitchens, Onfray, and Dennett must provide “deeper insight into ourselves, our needs as human beings, and ways to conduct our lives.” In essence, a replacement for, rather than the elimination of, religion. Life does seem much simpler when all of the answers are handed to you on a silver platter (or aged papyri), but it eliminates the worthwhile exercise of introspection and discovery that one must engage in to formulate their own self-concepts, needs, and morals.

This makes Bowden’s claim that atheists are “[avoiding] a fundamental quest of the human race” even more absurd. Figuring these things out for oneself is infinitely more important, and difficult, than accepting an ancient dogma in its stead. Perhaps the reason why so many are opposed to self-examination is because it is exactly as I described it—exercise. It can be excruciatingly difficult to step outside of yourself, examine your beliefs, and dissect that which lies beneath your exterior. If one has been inculcated with the notion that whatever resides in there is dirty, depraved, and evil, that urge to integrate your beliefs and behavior will be furiously resisted and likely satiated with religion.

Being told that your worldview is incorrect and that it’s going to be a difficult process to regain your bearings once you realize that there is no grand plan for your life will often be interpreted as an attack. Even if doing nothing more than pointing out the harm that has been done under the auspices of piety, the news will not be received with accolades from the religious. Compartmentalization and rationalization (as in the psychological phenomenon) are fundamental aspects of maintaining any faith-based belief in the face of contrary evidence. Despite the common perception, it is not viciousness which compels us as atheists to speak out against religion. It is with the hope that we can help those who live under the ever-looming spectre of god’s presence to stop accepting the illusion of freedom and truly experience it…(read more)

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