A World Without God
I'm in a rambling mood, so hang on, as I'm afraid this ride may get a bit
In an interview in Wired magazine, Sam Harris discussed what a
world without God might be. He said:
There would be a religion of reason. We would have realized the rational
means to maximize human happiness. We may all agree that we want to have a
Sabbath that we take really seriously -- a lot more seriously than most
religious people take it. But it would be a rational decision, and it would
not be just because it's in the Bible. We would be able to invoke the power
of poetry and ritual and silent contemplation and all the variables of
happiness so that we could exploit them. Call it prayer, but we would have
prayer without bullshit.
The interviewer, Gary Wolf, then commented:
I do call it prayer. Here is the atheist prayer: that our reason will
subjugate our superstition, that our intelligence will check our illusions,
that we will be able to hold at bay the evil temptation of faith.
I'm not entirely convinced that the world will be better when we all "give up
on God" (although there are days I do). I do think the world will be better when
we accept more rationality in our personal philosophy, but the current tensions
of war and terrorism isn't fueled just by God. It is also includes quite a bit
of greed, revenge and bad foreign policies. You know, the staples of human
I mean, do you really think that America wouldn't be spreading a war into
Iraq if there wasn't oil to loot?
Still, I find atheists fascinating. I finished listening to a series of
interviews by Bill Moyers in his PBS program, Faith and Reason.
In it, he interviewed people on all sides of the spectrum.
However, I found the atheists and the agnostics to be far more enlightening.
This is due, I think, to each person having to develop their own meaning for
life, instead of accepting a pat answer handed to them by another.
I remember John Lennon had a song along these lines.
Growing up, I remember a particular preaching in church that mentioned that
song directly, and noted that the lines, "Imagine all the people /
Living for today" was an emblem for people living in sin, and not looking
towards or planning the future "Heaven" as they should. And that living for current
pleasures will just bring displeasure from God at the future judgment day.
Now that I've studied a fair amount of Buddhism, I think I know where Lennon got
such a concept, and there is something going for it.
For living in the moment is not necessarily an abandonment into hedonism
and debauchery. It is about the contentment that comes from getting rid of
greed and desire. I don't feel like preaching the gospel of Buddhism right
now, but I think there is some good thoughts to integrate into your own
But what are we to do about the tension in our country that is currently bleeding us
of our identity and solidarity? Seriously, there are Christians who feel they are actually
being persecuted by non-believers, and non-believers feel that Christians want to
take over the country and retaliate against them. I don't think this is helping us.
I stumbled across this review of Reasons to Believe: One ManŐs Journey Among the Evangelicals and the Faith He Left Behind
by John Marks, and in there is the following quote:
Both sides in the discussion of religion in this country have done a great
deal to vilify and demonize the other side. Just as non-believers are meant to
be reprobate and lost, no matter how happy and satisified many of them may
seem on the surface, believers are characterized as ignorant, mentally
fragile, emotionally needy fools who are stupid no matter how smart and
successful they may seem.
These versions of existence are complete and total frauds, often but not
always propagated by people whose livelihoods depend on division and
alienation, and they must be dismantled. If you want to know how the other
half lives, go and find someone over there and ask.
Yes, conversation is a great start. But I also think we need to figure out how to respect
each other. I know, I know … how can we respect such clueless idiots on the other side?
I guess that is one thing both sides have in common … they think the other side is
clueless. Perhaps that's a start?
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