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solamen miseris socios habuisse doloris
After giving up on the idea of adopting a religion I might take seriously, it prods one to ask ‘Why bother in the first place’? It is not that I don’t recognise the placebo effect having a faith can have (one study seemed to suggest that believing in a God lengthened the lives of the terminally ill -which seems, prima facie, to go against one’s intuitions), but surely the need for religion in one’s life is indicative of a need to be dominated?
I am not claiming that atheists, or agnostics (who tend to be atheists holding out a glimmer of hope for eternal life), are superior beings, but what I am saying is that having a need for there to be something greater than yourself (or sum of life as we know it) is to devalue oneself. The whole idea of worship is ludicrous. What is so great that it needs to be given more than reasonable praise? Nothing is perfect (more on that in another post) and nothing is beyond criticism. If there is a creator, it is not taxing to think of criticisms that could be levelled at this supposed benevolent parent figure. Someone may not think my, or anyone else’s criticisms, are particularly valid, but that I, or someone else, can (at least hypothetically) make them serves to hack down the delusional image of a ‘perfect being’ (unless of course there is some Platonic form of Perfection, but I am awaiting good evidence for such a dubious idea).
To the best of my knowledge, I did not beg some mighty being to be given life on this Earth, which is not to say, if it did turn out I owe my existence to a God-of-sorts, that I am ungrateful for being a conscious entity amidst this fantastically varied world I am aware of, but it does not mean I must spend this limited time I seem to have heaping praise and ‘love’ on my ‘eternal father’. It seems to me that I owe my existence to my biological mother and father, and I have never felt the need to constantly tell them how great they are or beg them for help. I am grateful for everything they have done, and continue to do for me, and I tell them this when appropriate, but wouldn’t we consider it odd if atheists were forever telling their parents how absolutely fantastic they were, that every single achievement they have accomplished is directly because of their perfect parents?
Why is it so acceptable, then, for believers to consider it non-demeaning to waste their time propping up the ego of such a powerful being? If anyone needs praise and attention, the most powerful being in all existence is surely not the being in need of it (or at least, the last being one might think of)? It is, after all, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent (going on typical Christian doctrine). Don’t we usually give praise to someone who we feel needs it (whether it be for social, emotional or other such reasons)? If there is something so fantastic we might tell them how great it is regardless, but I can’t imagine I’d ever feel compelled to tell them how amazing that achievement was every single day (or at least once a week).
‘But every single day is its own unique blessing!‘ -This may be so, but then I think having a national health service is really quite terrific and I’m grateful for the fact that it is there every single day, but I still think it’s somewhat excessive to write to the government, national newspaper or a blog, thanking the government at least once a week (along the same lines as attending church every Sunday) for treating me for free when I need it. I can think of criticisms I might aim at the NHS in much the same way as I can think of criticisms I have of things happening in my life (not depending on prozac to live a normal life would be one). Surely the government, who has limited resources (as opposed to the unlimited power of a god) and is capable of much human error, should be praised for what it has achieved rather than the god who has managed to give many, in their short lives, more than their fair share of utter misery? Note that I am not saying one should go out and thank our current government for the NHS, but that if forced between a choice of god and our government on who has, given their resources, achieved the most, I’d pick the government (and I don’t even particularly like our current government).
I would rather risk the fall of pride than being content sitting at the bottom of the pit.
(subject to change)