Atheists worship their existence

What is religion Is it part of our nature or can we overcome it? And why shouldn't end-time believers be given nuclear weapons? Exciting questions that require a clear answer.

A comment by Andreas Müller

The outrageous introduction

First a note: Contrary to the announcement in Riot Atheists II, I will deal with the problem of the “just war” elsewhere, but in more detail.

We live in a time of deepest crisis. According to hpd, the Berlin state chairman of the HVD, Bruno Osuch, assured that "no one from 'Pro Ethics' is against religion or the church."

You are happy about your life, William Wordsworth's lonely cloud is still dancing in his mind over the beloved daffodils, and suddenly you look at the hpd and have to read that there is someone out there who, 250 years after the Enlightenment, still has no problem with the Church, let alone one with religion! Always these bad news on nice Tuesday evenings. There are even believers who are against the church. What a terrible catastrophe must have happened that even the atheists among the pro-ethicists are not opposed to the church?

Mr Osuch also said in the report: "In this respect, the statements by 'Pro Reli' in the past few days that the HVD is anti-religious are simply infamous."

There must be a misunderstanding, since the accusation of hostility towards religion can only be understood as a great compliment. Religious hostility and philanthropy are ultimately two sides of the same coin.

Praise for antitheism

Antitheism is not associated with any particular political stance and its goal is humble: it just wants religions and ideologies to disappear from this planet forever before they wipe us out.

As with atheism, the existence of God is denied. However, there are atheists who wish the salvation stories of religions were true and who regret not being able to believe in them. Antitheism, on the other hand, is in opposition to religion and considers the invention of God not only a wrong, but also a bad idea.

Created in six days

39% of Germans are supporters of intelligent design or creationism (see also here). 12% are real hardcore creationists - that is almost every eighth German! They believe that through the pronunciation of a magical formula, God created all forms of life, as it is written in the Bible.

There is a constant debate among atheists about "whether they really believe this". We think a lot of the human capacity for reason. But we shouldn't underestimate human irrationality either. The most stable society that ever existed was at the same time the most religious.

The ancient Egyptian dual rule of priestly class and pharaohs exercised a practically unchanged and unquestioned power over the inhabitants of Egypt for 3,000 years. For the ancient Egyptians, almost everything was sacred, and another god lurked behind every stone. In addition to religious beliefs, they also shared esoteric and magical beliefs. The ancient Egyptians could be rightly called the most superstitious society that ever existed - and none existed as long as they did.

Science and critical thinking, on the other hand, are recent achievements. Their prerequisites are an education and a social discourse that are free from religious and ideological appropriation. They form the core of modern civilization. Its promotion and dissemination are among the primary tasks of the liberal constitutional state. Postmodern arbitrariness (“stone stone is a tradition equivalent to Mother's Day”) endangers this goal, as does religious fundamentalism.

Even if everyone has the right to consider eating the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge to be the worst crime of all time, if everyone believed it, this society would perish immediately. Creationism is only the tip of an iceberg and this iceberg is called "religion". Unfortunately, in this picture, humanity plays the role of a passenger on the Titanic and Captain Smith is heading straight for the iceberg.

What is religion

Religion is a social system. A person who worships a god whom no one else worships is not religious according to this definition. The basis of religion is the confession of belief in a supernatural being (or several such beings), commonly called "God" (in research, ancestors, spirits, etc. are often included in the definition that I use here but leave it out). The members of a religious community strive for the goodwill of God by obeying his commandments and by worshiping him with the help of magical rituals (prayers, offerings).

The divine laws are the product of a certain time and certain social conditions, but are transferred by believers to God and thus acquire unlimited validity. Like religions in general, they are (ideally) unchangeable and closed to criticism. Their observance is monitored by priests and by the believing members of the respective religious community. The divine laws noted in “holy” books are not only related to one's own community, but also made absolute. It is believed that they come from the creator and ruler of the universe - it is amazing what religious people think they know.

The Hessischer Rundfunk asked children on a radio show whether they believe in God and one of the children replied: “I believe that God is a boy and that he is 43.” Of course, you don't have to worry when children are imaginative Way to speculate on this subject. But this exact knowledge (he is 43 years old) about God, without any evidence, without any reason to assume it, is not only claimed by children, adult believers are not one step further! For example, how do Catholics know so precisely that Mary went to heaven (which isn't even in the Bible)? The ability to be absolutely convinced of things that are completely out of the air is of fundamental importance for the religious self-image.

Are We Religious By Nature?

Is religion, the communal worship of supernatural beings, a product of evolution? Some evolutionary biologists, such as David Sloan Wilson, advocate this theory. Allegedly religion has an adaptionist advantage. It helps to adapt to our environmental conditions and increase fitness, so lead to more fertile offspring. In this case one could compare it with music and the religiosity (the ability / inclination to religious action) would be just as impossible to get rid of as our musicality (the inclination to make music or to enjoy it passively; the "rhythmic emotion" ). There are no more people without religion than there are people without tact. “True” atheism could only be explained as a disease or a mutation.

The other possibility is that religion is a by-product of certain adaptionist behavioral traits. This by-product theory is advocated by Richard Dawkins, for example. He argues that our propensity to look for patterns or our propensity to listen to our parents in childhood are of evolutionary advantage. These natural tendencies (and more) can be infected by a “memplex,” a group of ideas, that uses our innate behavioral traits for its own purposes. If we are infected by it, we see patterns where there are none (divine signs, salvation plans) and worship beings that do not exist (gods).

However, religiosity in this model is neither a disease nor a mutation like atheism is in the adaptionist model. Religiousness here is entirely natural in the sense that we are naturally able to be religious. However, this model also requires a cultural motivation, namely the infection by the memplex (the beliefs), as well as a lack of will to subject this belief to a critical examination with the help of reason. In the example above we can see that the ancient Egyptians were infected with a memplex by the pharaoh and priestly class and did not want to use the intellectual effort to look at it critically. 3000 years. And if we don't challenge believers today, then they will keep this infantile practice.

What does this mean for criticism of religion?

If the adaptionist theory is true, then people will forever worship supernatural beings. Some critics of religion are under the illusion that the culture might be stronger, but the only thing the Enlightenment could do in this case would be to dampen the worst effects of religion by appeasing the image of God. With the help of our culture we could no more overcome our religiosity than our musicality.

Antitheists, who are more inclined to the by-product theory, do not actually exist for adaptationists, as the religious scholar Michael Blume explains: “Religious behavior is a universal. It cannot be suppressed and can also be found in societies that consider themselves to be atheistic. ”He points out, for example, funeral rituals that also exist among atheists, and even describes religiosity as“ the joy of ritual ”. In my estimation it is possible to bury the dead without God, but that is obviously not a consensus in research. However, Mr. Blume said that I am not a mutant, so I have to secretly worship supernatural beings in my subconscious, which I doubt however. In any case, it would indeed be pointless to fundamentally reject religion and to fight it if it will never go away anyway.

Man, a puppet?

On the other hand, if religion is at its core the result of something called “not thinking”, then we can overcome it. According to my daring theory, humans have a brain that they can use to question their beliefs and, if necessary, to give up on them. Nobody is a slave to their religious genes. We are not played by invisible forces like puppets, and we do not have to believe in a god.

There is another memplex that tries to convince us that we cannot question our view of the world because we are instead slaves to dark forces. Since the Viennese quack Sigmund Freud, many educated people have believed that we are not masters of our own house in a very radical way. As a result, we invent all kinds of justifications for our behavior, but our “true”, unconscious motives are very different. For example, I am currently writing a polemic against a pseudoscience called “psychoanalysis” in order to point out its nonsense to the general public and to defend people's ability to emancipate. Psychoanalysts would assure me, however, that I am only writing this because I want to kill my father and marry my mother, although my insidious consciousness tells me that I do not feel any tendency in that direction. In any case, the fact is that the idea that we are ruled by dark forces goes way too far.

Although we cannot break the boundaries of physical laws, we have a certain scope for action within the natural order. Our will is not free, but that does not mean that it does not exist, nor does it mean that the causes of our decisions always differ from the reasons we are aware of. As the neuropsychologist Steven Pinker points out, our conscious decisions and deliberations have mostly come about in the way we imagine them to be.

The famous Libet experiment in no way says that we are unable to make individual decisions and that our actions always have only mysterious, inexplicable causes. We need a lot more experiments to explore the basis of our conscious choices. Until then, I'll say that it is mostly what it seems to be. So if I make myself a cup of coffee now, I do it because I want to have a drink and not because there is an invisible demon in my blood who likes caffeine.

Atheist religions

The HVD President Horst Groschopp is critical of my comments in his supportive request to take stock of the secular organizations. He writes: “So if - as sometimes happens in the hpd in comments - atheism and religions are opposed across the board, then it is not only misunderstood in terms of definition or not considered in terms of association policy that there are also atheistic religions and that members of KORSO are secular - understand religiously. "

First of all, I don't think that something can be “misunderstood” in terms of definition. But it is certainly the case that we use different definitions of “religion” and “atheism”. If one proceeds from my definitions, which are used in religious studies and sociobiology, then one cannot really speak of “atheistic religions”. Such a construction would correspond to the popularly known “green bench that was painted red”.

If religions are about the worship of supernatural beings, of whose existence atheists, i.e. non-believers, do not even assume, then there are no atheistic religions. Unless these atheists worship something they know does not exist, as Kant demanded for the sake of general morality. However, I think that's pretty silly and there is hardly anyone who does something like that.

Apart from that, philosophers like Michael Schmidt-Salomon speak of "religious atheists" when it comes to people who represent atheism in a way that religious people do with their beliefs, for example, who are convinced that there is none without religion There would be wars and no more suffering in the world (which I think is nonsense). So the term has a negative sound and is therefore not really recommended to anyone.

God wants it

Whoever believes that his God is the only true one and his book the only holy one (certainly a minority in Germany, but by no means anywhere in the world) no longer applies to secular rules and does not behave ethically either. He doesn't care about people or their interests. He only cares what God asks of him. A true believer is on the move on behalf of the LORD, whom religious people capitalize precisely because there is nothing bigger and more important for them, definitely no petty, earthly considerations about what is right and what is wrong behavior.

Indeed: Why should the temporary laws of a small, secular state care for a believer who thinks on a cosmic scale, who thinks he is playing the main role in a great story and who is convinced that if he ignores divine commandments, he is threatened with eternal agony? What is a couple of years in prison versus never-ending torture? It is not at all unreasonable to blow yourself up for your faith or to stone adulteresses on God's orders if you do not end up as an eternally bloody steak on an underground grill in return. It is unreasonable to believe such a thing at all.

Armageddon one time, please?

Antitheism is more important today than ever in the age of the atomic bomb. A considerable number of Muslims and also Christians on this planet believe that their Savior will soon come to earth to usher in the end of the world. For Christians, this means the return of Jesus Christ, as announced in Revelation. For the Muslim followers of the Twelve Shia, it means the arrival of the twelfth Imam, the successor of Muhammad, who is commonly known as the "Mahdi" (however, independent of this, there are also doom scenarios in the Koran that are very similar to the Christian final judgment). Not only do they believe in the near end of the world, but they look forward to it and some of them are even working diligently to accelerate it, so that they can go to heaven sooner with all true believers, dead or alive, and the evil atheists in the To see hell sizzle. Bill Maher sums it up at the end of his documentary Religulous (on April 2, 2009 in German cinemas):

“The irony is that because of the power of religion to lead people into destructive behavior, the world may actually end. [...] The simple fact is: religion must die so that man can live.It is almost too late to still show indulgence when it comes to letting religious people, irrationalists, make key decisions, people who steer the ship of state not with a compass but with the modern day equivalent of reading the bowels of one Chicken. [...] 'Faith' means to make a virtue out of not thinking. That's not something to brag about.

And those who preach, enable and emphasize the faith are intellectual slaveholders who keep humanity dependent on the fantasy and nonsense that have already produced so much madness and destruction. Religion is dangerous because it allows people who don't have all the answers to believe they have them. [...] That is the reason why rationalists, anti-religious people, have to come out and have to start walking upright.

And those who consider themselves only moderately religious really need to look in the mirror and see that they actually have to pay a high price for the comfort and convenience that religion brings. [...] If you belonged to a political party or association with as much zeal, misogyny, homophobia, violence and sheer ignorance as religion is, then you would resign in protest. If you do something else, then you are an enabler, the wife of a Mafia boss, because the real devilies of extremism derive their legitimacy from their billions of fellow travelers.

If the world goes down, or if it creeps into the future, decimated by the effects of religion-inspired nuclear terrorism, then we remember what the problem was: That we learned how to cause mass destruction before we did neurological disorder behind us making us want it. This is what it looks like: grow up or die. "

Andreas Müller

The new atheists
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