I just finished listening to a fellow atheist, Bernie Dehler, debate Ken Hovind. Ken built a dinosaur theme park in Florida (he believes they were around when humans were). I was astounded to listen to his version of science. If you can’t observe it in a laboratory, it isn’t science. What? How about observing the radioactive decay of carbon-14 and determining the age of fossils based on this scientific observation? No. He would deny that. Unfortunately, he has tens of thousands of followers who believe exactly as he does, who are virtually all conservatives, and who vote for people who think just like they do. Climate change deniers are virtually all influenced by some kind of conservative religious view about the world and how it works. Ken is one of those who believe the world was created in 4004 BC. If you ever wondered, this is a calculation done by an Irish Protestant, Bishop James Ussher, in the 17th century, following the “begets” in the Bible. What does that mean for our future? We won’t see the U.S. Congress take the bull by its horn and require lower gas emissions, fund research on more fuel efficient cars, or develop solar and wind energy in an urgent manner. The U. K.’s BREXIT isn’t going to help matters either as they will probably lose their relationship with scientists from the European Union according to Robyn Blumner, President & CEO of the Richard Dawkins Foundation. I’m in Austin, Texas as I write this. Get used to the heat. It’s coming.
What is the primary reason people like Donald Trump oppose immigration? What was one of the major reasons voters in the United Kingdom chose to leave the European Union? Because they see Muslims, Mexicans, and other refugees as “the others.” While there are many causes for this phenomenon, religion is one of the major ones. History has shown us that the best way to convince people to kill their enemies is to tell the soldiers that the enemies don’t believe in your god. Take a look at the stories in the Old Testament. Yahweh allowed Moses to kill all those people who inhabited the Israelites’ “Promised Land.” By the way, that included all the women and children too. They were killed simply because they were “the other.” In one passage, Yahweh even “hardened their hearts” so they couldn’t accept him as god. And yet this book is the basis for Judeo-Christianity. It sits in the pews of every Christian church and its scrolls are unrolled every Sabbath day in synagogues. Mohammed used Islam to conquer and unite the Arab tribes. This legacy is literally killing us today.
From female circumcision (cutting out the clitoris and sometimes the labia), to stoning for adultery, to not leaving the house without a male escort, to restrictions on abortion and reproductive rights (read many states in the U.S. on that one), women face discrimination across the globe mostly caused by Iron Age myths. Need I say more? Do you think it is a mere coincidence that one of the least religious countries, Iceland, leads the world in pay equity between men and women? By the way, the U.S. is 65th on that list. Boko Haram kidnapped two hundred young girls to use as sex slaves because their version of Islam said it was okay.
Conservative religious politicians have voted time and time again to fund abstinence-only sex education in public schools in the U. S. Bills that promote medically accurate sex education with an acknowledgement of LGBTQ issues languish in committee. If you had a chance to read my post last week, you saw how the lack of sex education worked out for me and millions like me. What a joke! Youth are having sex today. It is natural. And no amount of abstinence-only education will protect them from getting pregnant or getting STDs or HIV. Imagine teaching our children about diseases like measles and mumps and getting them vaccinated but closing our lips at the mention of sexually transmitted diseases. In the European Union, they have a different attitude citing their goal to disseminate “general and technical information, facts and issues which create awareness and provide young people with the essential knowledge and training in communication and decision making skills they need to determine and enjoy sexuality both physically and emotionally, individually as well as in relationships”. Why does sex education raise a threat to our future? Look at the deaths from AIDS and Zika and ask that again. The Catholic Church continues to refuse to distribute condoms in Africa because of its antiquated notions of sex. This has contributed directly to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases around the world.
One of the legacies of Christianity is the duality created by the notion of a body and a soul. Precursors to Christianity, particularly Persian and Greek thought, certainly contributed to this now widely-held view. Thus, while everyone could observe that the body went nowhere after death and simply decayed and joined the dust of the earth, the positing of the notion of a soul led people to imagine that there just might be an afterlife for them as individuals. The belief in an afterlife is present in many, many religions. Ancient historians have stated that this belief helped people get through the very trying times in their lives. It also helped those in religious power hold sway over the masses. But how does this belief imperil our future? It does so by allowing millions to ignore the things that could be changed to make life better here on earth. We have all heard someone say upon the death of a loved one, particularly a young person, “they are in a better place.” This distracts us from focusing on the ways in which we could make life better. We could provide health care to all, take care of our environment, and accept others as ourselves. What if all the wealth of the Catholic Church was liquidated and redistributed to the poor? Wouldn’t that make for a better future?
This is just a sampling of the reasons religion threatens our future. Add your favorite ones I missed in the comments section.
Karen L. Garst
The Faithless Feminist