Sunday, October 21, 2007

today : oh my God I still can't believe it.

Personally I don't believe in a creator. None of the organised religious doctrines add up to me. There are always unbridgable gaps in logic. I guess that's where faith comes in. In my teenage years I flirted with religion but even though I tried quite hard, just could never bring myself to make the leap of faith. I always wanted more answers before I made a decision.

Now that doesn't mean that I am closed to religion. What disturbs me slightly about the new atheism is that it seems to be predicated on actively disliking religion and even (as Ainsley Hayes accuses Sam and Josh in season one of the West Wing when they talk about gun control) hating the people. Dawkins rhetoric is inflammatory, such as aligning religious education with child abuse. And I don't disagree with that it some ways. Anything that removes choice from a person's repertoire by making it taboo is to be frowned upon. Clearly Dawkins' mission is to promote atheism as a proactive ideology rather than a passive, disinterested stance, and his language does the job admirably.

Yet personally I can't quite bring myself to dislike or even disrespect the vast majority of Christians, Muslims or whatever that I know. I even recently met a Wiccan (although I think that he wasn't really a practising Wiccan, given that I knew more about his religion than he did. I think it was just a pose). I guess in this way my feelings are similar to when I was a teenager. Only this time I can't quite bring myself to make the leap of lack of faith.

I've touched on this before but what makes me uncomfortable is the increasing level at which religion is derided as a matter of course. Yes, I am deeply uncomfortable about the more fringe elements of the radical right. in the USA. But I am willing to bet that most American Christians are either fairly decent people or don't know any better. Few of them possess the malevolence of money grabbing preachers or racist talk show hosts. Similarly, I don't know a practising declared Muslim or Christian who isn't wholly focused on their family and pretty much wholly committed to being...well, nice. And it's the niceness that I find appealing about religious folk. However bizarre and illogical their belief in a creator, the moral framework that religion gives them generally means that they at least, try to be pleasant.

Ultimately, whatever your opinion of religions themselves, there are more religious people who don't use their belief in a creator as a reason or a pretext for war than those that do.

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