The Godless Delusion

The recent spate of anti-theistic books presents nothing really new.  People have been making arguments against the existence of God for a long, long time.  Why is there evil in the world?  Why do religious people sometimes do bad things?  Why do we need God, if science will soon be able to explain everything?  These questions reflect the Godless Delusion, an inversion of the book by Dawkins.

There is evil in the world because people choose evil.  Each of us has a conscience.  We instinctively know what is right and wrong.  But knowing and doing are two different things.  Often it is easier to do evil than to do good.  Often evil appears more alluring than goodness.  The source of evil may be identified as the Devil, but it is more precisely a rejection of God.  When God is at the center of our lives, then evil is not.

The term "religious people" is meaningless.  All people - especially militant anti-theists - are religious.  The vital question is what one's religion believes.  What I call "The Great Faith" of the Judeo-Christian heritage believes in a loving, good and just God - a Blessed Creator, as devout Jews might put it.

The history of Judeo-Christians is profoundly different than the history of other religious peoples, including religious anti-theists.  The religious people of pre-Columbian American Mexico conquered other tribes simply to sacrifice them to Aztec gods.  The religious people of Imperial Japan committed unspeakable crimes against the Chinese in following their national religion.  The religious Nazis, who loathed passionately both Christianity and Judaism, committed unspeakable crimes against Jews, Poles and others.  The religious anti-theists of Stalinist Russia and Maoist China murdered more than any other religion in history.  And, of course, radical Islam murders indiscriminately.

No crimes of Judeo-Christians remotely approaches the holocausts of Aztecs, Japanese, Nazis, atheist Russia or atheist Japan.  Why?  Because all religions are not the same.  Some religions are good and some religions are bad.  Almost every single movement or belief which we now  consider good originated in Christianity or Judaism.  Abolitionism, prison reform, compassion for animals, equality before the law, medical science, systematic intellectual inquiry - nearly everything - traces back to a Christian or a Jew.

If the anti-theists want to pick on Christians and Jews (and that does seem to be the real thrust of militant atheism) for sometimes acting badly, it is imperative to note that both Christianity and Judaism accept the notion of sin.  Both faiths believe that we all morally fail sometimes and both faiths have a religious process for repentance and renewal, which allows us to live moral lives, even if all lives are imperfect.  Does this work?  Again, the history of Jews and Christians is a testament that serious faith produces, quite simply, the best people on earth.

What of the new god, Science?  One of the most compelling facts of science is that it debunks itself.  Maxwell, one of the the greatest physicists in history (and a devout Christian), worked out the equations in the 1860s which postulated that the speed of light is finite.  Michaelson and Morley decades later calculated the speed of light at 186,000 miles per second.  God created an absolute bar to what we can ever know about reality that is 187,000 miles away from us at the moment of our birth and is traveling at the speed of light away from us.  This is not a theoretical bar:  it is an absolute, irrevocable bar.

At the subatomic level, we can never predict exactly what will happen.  The Uncertainty Principle, which has been loitering inconveniently around the science of Quantum Physics for about eighty years, still rules.  Quantum Mechanics always allows for an excellent statistical expectation of what will happen at the subatomic level, but it never allows certainty.  God has created another absolute bar to human knowledge.

One might think that those who worship science would wake up.   Knowing much beyond what we already know about the universe is increasingly improbable.  No serious person today can think that material benefits will make us happier - not in a society in which the greatest health problem is obesity and the greatest emotional problem is boredom.

And how do we sate our boredom?  Increasingly, our entertainment is horrific and perverse.  Our obsession with violence, promiscuous sex and dangerous drugs is as obvious as the cure to those sicknesses:  God.  Without God, we cannot even imagine anything good (if you doubt that, try to imagine Heaven.)  Those who reject God suffer from the Godless Delusion.

The recent spate of anti-theistic books presents nothing really new.  People have been making arguments against the existence of God for a long, long time.  Why is there evil in the world?  Why do religious people sometimes do bad things?  Why do we need God, if science will soon be able to explain everything?  These questions reflect the Godless Delusion, an inversion of the book by Dawkins.

There is evil in the world because people choose evil.  Each of us has a conscience.  We instinctively know what is right and wrong.  But knowing and doing are two different things.  Often it is easier to do evil than to do good.  Often evil appears more alluring than goodness.  The source of evil may be identified as the Devil, but it is more precisely a rejection of God.  When God is at the center of our lives, then evil is not.

The term "religious people" is meaningless.  All people - especially militant anti-theists - are religious.  The vital question is what one's religion believes.  What I call "The Great Faith" of the Judeo-Christian heritage believes in a loving, good and just God - a Blessed Creator, as devout Jews might put it.

The history of Judeo-Christians is profoundly different than the history of other religious peoples, including religious anti-theists.  The religious people of pre-Columbian American Mexico conquered other tribes simply to sacrifice them to Aztec gods.  The religious people of Imperial Japan committed unspeakable crimes against the Chinese in following their national religion.  The religious Nazis, who loathed passionately both Christianity and Judaism, committed unspeakable crimes against Jews, Poles and others.  The religious anti-theists of Stalinist Russia and Maoist China murdered more than any other religion in history.  And, of course, radical Islam murders indiscriminately.

No crimes of Judeo-Christians remotely approaches the holocausts of Aztecs, Japanese, Nazis, atheist Russia or atheist Japan.  Why?  Because all religions are not the same.  Some religions are good and some religions are bad.  Almost every single movement or belief which we now  consider good originated in Christianity or Judaism.  Abolitionism, prison reform, compassion for animals, equality before the law, medical science, systematic intellectual inquiry - nearly everything - traces back to a Christian or a Jew.

If the anti-theists want to pick on Christians and Jews (and that does seem to be the real thrust of militant atheism) for sometimes acting badly, it is imperative to note that both Christianity and Judaism accept the notion of sin.  Both faiths believe that we all morally fail sometimes and both faiths have a religious process for repentance and renewal, which allows us to live moral lives, even if all lives are imperfect.  Does this work?  Again, the history of Jews and Christians is a testament that serious faith produces, quite simply, the best people on earth.

What of the new god, Science?  One of the most compelling facts of science is that it debunks itself.  Maxwell, one of the the greatest physicists in history (and a devout Christian), worked out the equations in the 1860s which postulated that the speed of light is finite.  Michaelson and Morley decades later calculated the speed of light at 186,000 miles per second.  God created an absolute bar to what we can ever know about reality that is 187,000 miles away from us at the moment of our birth and is traveling at the speed of light away from us.  This is not a theoretical bar:  it is an absolute, irrevocable bar.

At the subatomic level, we can never predict exactly what will happen.  The Uncertainty Principle, which has been loitering inconveniently around the science of Quantum Physics for about eighty years, still rules.  Quantum Mechanics always allows for an excellent statistical expectation of what will happen at the subatomic level, but it never allows certainty.  God has created another absolute bar to human knowledge.

One might think that those who worship science would wake up.   Knowing much beyond what we already know about the universe is increasingly improbable.  No serious person today can think that material benefits will make us happier - not in a society in which the greatest health problem is obesity and the greatest emotional problem is boredom.

And how do we sate our boredom?  Increasingly, our entertainment is horrific and perverse.  Our obsession with violence, promiscuous sex and dangerous drugs is as obvious as the cure to those sicknesses:  God.  Without God, we cannot even imagine anything good (if you doubt that, try to imagine Heaven.)  Those who reject God suffer from the Godless Delusion.