I also find that people sometimes accuse me of pointing out the transgressions of particular christians as if they are typical of the acts of all the others. In actual fact I try rather hard to avoid these particular ad-hominem attacks, not because the hypocrites don't deserve to be singled out, and not because there is any shortage of subjects, but because it is clearly a weak line of argument. Please accept my apologies for the few times when I have done this as it was just a case of inconsistency on my own part.
But should I apologise for being anti-religious? After all, look at all the good things done by church members worldwide. Look at the charitable works that they perform. Look at how they help the poor in Africa. And look at the way that they can console the bereaved or those who have had a traumatic experience.
|Faith beats facts - sourced from here.|
Actually I don't just single out christianity for my attacks. I strongly disapprove of any attempts to convince people about superstition - whatever form that would take. I don't like the way that the 'business' of organised religion is made to look like charity. After all, it is not a non-prophet organisation!
There is another aspect to religion as well as the idea of hope:
Faith frightens children!
Christianity and Islam both preach (in their own ways) about eternal damnation in the fires of hell. Imagine teaching little children this doctrine and blighting their lives. It is no use denying it. Different traditions approach this topic with different priority and levels of dogma, but I suggest that it is there - at least by implication - in all branches of these two religions. I know ex-Catholics who spent their childhoods terrified by this story and who feel liberated by escaping from their religion.
Both fundamental Christianity and fundamental Islam also find themselves at odds with science. Islam teaches that salt water and fresh water do not mix (Sura 25:53). Certain creationist Christians teach that the sun is not producing power by nuclear fusion, but that it is 'young' and all the energy is coming from gravitational collapse. Some deny the big bang and the fact of evolution.
All this is based on nothing more tangible than a few holy books - books that are not even internally consistent. On top of the sacred texts there is doctrine. Much of doctrine is based on even less tangible things that someone somewhere 'just knew' to be the truth.
Christians typically meet at church on a weekly basis to affirm their faith and to share their experiences. Atheists have no such opportunity and one chance that they do have to affirm and indeed challenge each other is by writing and reading about each others' views. Communication between us is so much easier via the internet and we all learn from each other and add our own 'teaching' in our own ways.
This is why I join in the conversation. I feel that I have a right to say the things that I believe, even if some few people take offence at them. I don't seek to offend but to lift the veil of superstition and reveal what I believe to be a small part of the truth.
Am I robbing people of hope? Perhaps. But what is the value of hope in something that is supported by so little evidence? I suspect that it is not possible to 'rob people of fear' without the side effect of 'robbing them of hope'. Anyway - what chance is there that my humble words rob anyone of anything? I think the only people likely to listen to anything that I say are those who already know in their hearts that they do not have faith any more.
I think I prefer to think that I am supporting others who find that a 'lack of faith' is both liberating and empowering.