the case for a neutral perspecive on religion

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

what is the position of an individual who is neither religious nor an atheist?

Submitted: May 08, 2018

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Submitted: May 08, 2018



The Case for a Neutral Perspective on Religion

It is not limited to only two choices, you do not have to be either religious or an atheist. You can be a neutral observer. You would have to be a very independent thinker. Being neither religious nor an atheist immediately separates you from most of humanity. You do not succumb to the necessity of “belonging”. That is not to say that you live like a hermit avoiding society. You are very much a part of society, an interested observer viewing it from a different perspective.

You can analyze the pros and cons of religion and atheism without prejudice. In your view they are equal beliefs.  You do not think that either one is a proven fact (that there is or is not a God) but are willing to listen to arguments for both cases.

You do not seek to change people’s beliefs to coincide with your own. There would be no benefit in that for you and very possibly a great deal of harm could come from it. Not harm to you, but to the society that you live in.

You realize that religion is like a force of nature that bonds people together, a force that allow a society to exist.  Like the natural forces in an atom, it can be used for creative purposes or for destruction, for the benefit of society or the destruction of it.

You sees atheism in a similar way. Atheists, by definition, are free thinkers.  They say to the world, “You believe in superstitions created thousands of years ago that have no basis in known fact. Faith is not fact!” Free thinkers are the engines of progress in a society. They are the creators of new ideas and technologies, the scientist, doctors and engineers that improve our societies. But if they converted a large majority of the population to their beliefs society might cease to exist. A quote attributed to the Russian author Dostoevsky states the problem as, "If God does not exist, everything is permitted." Visualize our fragile society now and how it would be if the majority of people held that view.

The neutral observer realizes that both points of view are necessary, that they counterbalance each other. It is not required to take sides, to choose between one or the other. They both have their advantages and disadvantages. They both have regrettable histories.

Religious fanatics have slaughtered each other by the millions, often over minor disagreements in the details of their own religion. Other millions have died in wars of opposing religions. There are also the millions that were killed solely because of their religion. A double edged sword, religion can be both good and bad for society. Religious believers have founded universities, hospitals and charities. They have sacrificed their lives to save other lives. They have educated millions of people and they bring comfort and relief to those who share their religion.

There is no one, universally accepted definition of atheism. I will use the one the American Atheist organization uses, “A lack of belief in gods”. Richard Dawkins is probably the best known atheist, so I will use his published statements to describe what are generally accepted as atheist beliefs.

In his book, The Selfish Gene, he argues that it is not groups or organisms that adapt and evolve, but individual genes. He argued that, at gene level, adaptation does not serve any "altruistic" purpose; each living organism's body is just a survival machine for its genes. Dawkins believes that the theory of evolution and natural selection can explain the universe much better than the idea of an intelligent design carried out by a God.

Some of his most controversial statements are:

“Who designed the divine creator?”

“Events that we commonly call miracles are not supernatural, but are part of a spectrum of more-or-less improbable natural events. A miracle, in other words, if it occurs at all, is a tremendous stroke of luck.”

“Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence...Faith is not allowed to justify itself by argument.”

“Natural selection… has no purpose in mind. It has no mind and no mind's eye. It does not plan for the future. It has no vision, no foresight, no sight at all”

 “The most basic claims of religion are scientific. Religion is a scientific theory.”

“I see God as a competing explanation for facts about the universe and life. God and natural selection are, after all, the only two workable theories we have of why we exist.”

I believe that an individual that renounces labels such as “religious” or “atheist “could honestly support that last statement. It is possible to believe that religion and atheism are opposite sides of the same coin. They both exist to explain existence, the enigmatic wonder of our being.

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