I just want to share a conversation overheard a a few weeks ago and comment on it. The key point is below, I’ll leave the rest out.
Person 1: I think I’m becoming an Atheist.
Person 2: That’s fantastic.
Person 1: Not really, it means I’m going to hell.
Funny, isnt it. The person involved had obviously been questioning their long held beliefs, but can’t quite overcome what’s been deeply ingrained into her, that hell exists. Fear is a favourite tool of the religious, if you don’t believe in God, you will be subjected to an eternity of torture. And there’s no point tippy toeing around the fact, it may not be phrased that exact way in the holy books, but it’s what they mean.
This fear, in some cases, results in people trying their best to be “good”. This causes two problems. Firstly, if it’s only fear that’s making you be a decent person, it’s all obviously fleeting and secondly, the same thing that is imposing the fear, also controls the conditions of that fear. What I mean by this is, if you believe the Bible’s version of things, with Hell existing, the only way you can avoid Hell is to follow the handy directions contained in the same source that describes Hell itself.
So on to the headline, why is denying atheism rejecting humanity? Logic dictates that if you are not an Atheist, you are involved in some belief (wishy washy agnostics excluded). Most belief systems include the concept of punishing those who do not follow it’s guidance. So therefore, by extension, a non-atheist is highly likely to be living in fear of punishment if they do not comply to the moral rules set out in their religion. So, it appears that by applying this logic, the only people on earth who are currently bound by their own moral values are atheists. The only people no living in fear. To me, this solves a whole bunch of problems. We’ve already seen that religious writings can be interpreted in multiple ways, and because of this it’s very easy to end up with fundamentalists. Those who apply the religious rules literally, or those who are filled with so much fear that they become overzealous in enforcing the rules they are bound by.
Personally, I’d rather be bound by my own moral compass, not one written hundreds of years ago that may not even be relevant or applicable today. Any teaching that tries to portray moral ambiguities as straight forward, and black and white, is far off the mark. People need to ability to adapt themselves based on the current position, environment and climate. And they need to do this without fear hanging over their head.