Friday, May 20, 2011

Guest Post: No plan B: Let’s hope they don’t come back

This guest post come from Napping Duck from the Atheist blog Fairly Coherent. With the absurd call for Judgment day on May 21st, it refreshing to see how the reality based community is dealing with the situation. Enjoy the read.

No plan B: Let’s hope they don’t come back
By Napping Duck.

Last weekend, I had the interesting experience of listening to podcasts of ‘The Ricky Gervais Show’ and David Cross’s audiobook ‘I Drink for a Reason,’ as I drove past billboards like these. This juxtaposition multiplied the outrageousness of Family Radio’s claim that the world will definitely end on May 21st, 2010.

Inspired to become a more active atheist, I feel obligated to speak up about Harold Camping’s ridiculous doomsday predictions.

I usually ignore this type of fire and brimstone, but I had to comment about this man who quit his job, left his family, and stubbornly claims that he has “no plan B” in the event that the May 21 hype is all for publicity.

While it would be easy to label the hubbub as a fringe Christian element not representative of the masses, I insist we take a closer look.

A 2010 study by the Pew Research Center found that 40% of Americans believe that Jesus Christ will return to Earth by the year 2050. Let that sink in. Four out of ten people who you interact with every day believe that a two-thousand-year-old historical figure will descend from the sky and walk around among us.

I’m beginning to think it’s downright dangerous to accept fervent religion at face value or apply the ‘live and let live’ mentality. I believe this for two reasons:
1) People are using ‘beliefs’ and ‘facts’ interchangeably.

Take Creationism vs. evolution. Even entertaining Creationism erodes years of scientific research by generations of our brightest minds to a handful of people who wrote an old book.

Religion as a basis for holding back medical advancement is becoming absurd. See the ongoing fight over children’s vaccines, Scientology’s battle against neurological disorders like depression, and the fight over stem cell research.

What really gets me is this mentality has now seeped into the dialogue about such important issues as climate change. People on both sides of the aisle who use the word “belief” are doing our country a great disservice. It is a PROVEN fact. There is as much evidence of global climate change as there is that the Earth circles the Sun. But people do not say, “I believe the Earth circles the Sun,” rather it is stated as a fact: “The Earth circles the Sun.”

A person would be ridiculed if they said they “don’t believe the Earth circles the Sun” because that is a belief versus a known fact. But, the large majority of Americans don’t have a problem with the statement “I don’t believe in climate change” because global climate change has been downgraded from fact to belief status.  We can’t let the live and let live mentality extend to important issues such as these.

I call for all environmentalists who want to make a difference to begin addressing those who deny the fact of global climate change as “climate change deniers.”We must reclaim the dialogue.

2) People use religion to justify their actions.
There is real danger justifying one’s actions based on religion rather than logic, integrity, or just basic kindness.

Through the lens of good versus evil, many have become justified in their self proclaimed righteousness, forgetting simple human empathy. And this is not relegated to one particular religion; it is prevalent throughout all religions and all history.
From the Romans sending Christians to death to the Crusades to ‘witch’ burnings to suicide bombers, there are countless examples of people inflicting death and harm in the name of religion.

Millions, if not billions, of people have died because of religion and just as many have been persecuted in other ways.

Because they believe they are on the morally good side of the argument, and the other side (whatever opposing religion) are literally evil, it is much easier to perpetrate harm. The religious justification blinds them to the cruelness of their actions.

We do not need religion to tell us right from wrong or how to live our lives. Simply treat people like you want to be treated and keep your religion out of my science.
And if I’m wrong (and Stephen Hawking is too)?

Well, I’ll bring the beer for our party in hell.

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