Thoughts on Belief and Religion
We stood by the water’s edge and made sacrifices to the river god. A bit of our food, some of our drink, this we committed to the swift stream. It was time to put it in the river and be on our way.
No, we weren’t pagans. None of us believed that the river was an intelligent creature that we needed to propitiate for our survival. Nevertheless, like ancients starting on a hazardous journey, we made sacrifices to the god of the river. Why? Why would unbelieving moderns engage in such an atavism?
We were more than a little serious about this. We were experienced white water boatmen so we had some idea of what we were facing. We were about to start a dangerous expedition down a little-known stretch of an African river. Not even the locals knew what dangers we would be facing since the land for the next three hundred miles was completely uninhabited. We knew that ahead lay potentially life threatening rapids. Ahead lay dangerous animals, very large to very small. Ahead lay lethal diseases. We knew that any injury could be fatal because it would be weeks before we could reach help. And, too, there were unknown unknowns. So we made sacrifice to the river god. It focused our minds on our future. Something deep inside us was speaking.
America was created religious — thus the first words of the First Amendment. Our founders knew that our society would fail without a firm spiritual grounding. Today our nation’s spiritual core is under attack by those who arrogantly pretend to be too enlightened for religion. These militant atheists work to drive all signs of religion from the public square. They demand that government give them “freedom from religion.” Ironically, in so doing they reject their own humanity and spin themselves down into nihilism.
We boatmen understood that the world is a dangerous place and invariably tragic. Like people in all ages facing danger, we needed spiritual reinforcement. As far back as we have archeological evidence people have sought spiritual protections against the world’s hazards. Even Neanderthals showed their spiritual side with cave paintings and offerings of flowers for their dead. Ancient stories tell us that trees and streams and the land were believed to be imbued with living spirits. To our ancestors a living river god made sense. Ultimately these primitive sensibilities coalesced into organized religions.
This shouldn’t be a surprise. It is generally accepted among biologists that behavior is, at least in part, built into our genes. It was bred into us by natural selection because, in some way, certain behaviors helped our ancestors survive and reproduce. The evidence from all cultures, from the most primitive to the most advanced, is overwhelming that in each human being there is a genetic spiritual element. A spiritual core shapes each human culture.
The need for spiritual religion may be inherent but the actual expression of this need can take many different forms. Religion does not even require belief in a supreme being. Buddhism does not demand belief in God. It recognizes that there is much about this world that we not only do not know but we actually cannot know, so it leaves such matters up to the individual.
The cultural evidence tells us that all of today’s atheist secularists are genetically predisposed to be spiritual. Yet most of them deny this essential need. Like all people, atheists must attend to this innate drive to stay sane. Atheists try to maintain their sanity by forcing their beliefs on everyone else. This has profound implications for modern politics and the rule of law.
If atheists have biologically driven spiritual needs, then atheism must be a religion. So how can atheism be a religion? How can the active denial of the existence of God be a religion? The heart of the matter was taught us by Aristotle: You cannot prove a negative! It is logically impossible.
When an atheist claims that he can prove there is no God he is blowing smoke. What he can legitimately say is that he does not believe there is a God. Thus, his position is one of faith about God (i.e., God’s non-existence), not one of provable reality. But faith about God, positive or negative, is the core of almost all religions.
It goes even further. Birds of a feather, etc. Scattered around the world are formal churches of atheism. These are congregations that have buildings, dogma, sacraments, clergy — pompous preachers of atheism — and saints like Karl Marx. I might mention in this context that their holiest sacrament is abortion. This means that atheism is a regression to a primitive religion that requires human sacrifice in the form of child sacrifice.
What is the nature of this religion of atheism? If atheists do not worship a single transcendental God, what do they worship, other than themselves? Atheism is polytheistic, for it has many gods — mundane gods, not transcendental ones: Power, Gaia, Science, Race, Hubris, etc.
So, how is all this relevant to today’s increasingly secular world? The most important of the atheist gods is Power. This means the institutional control of people: through government, tech business, communication, education, etc. Socialism in its various forms — Communism, Fascism, Nazism, Maoism, Progressivism, etc. — is only a means to gain power, not an end in itself.
In their lust for power, many atheists try to impose their religion on everyone else. That is the heart of much of America’s current conflict. For decades, now, we have suffered from an unrecognized religious war by atheist religionists against traditionally religious people. This religious war is being fought out, and atheists are often winning, in the courts and in the halls of Congress. They win by pretending to be secular and the victims of oppression, not themselves the oppressors.
There is a way to stop, and even reverse, the militant atheist suppression of traditional religions. That way is to establish, in the law, that atheism is, itself, a competing religion. The courts will be the battleground. It will be necessary for lawyers to establish, through the courts, that spirituality is genetic not merely cultural. That spirituality is a fundamental part of being human, and that therefore the belief system known as atheism must be considered a form of religion. The atheist part of the secular world must not be permitted to reject public religious expression.
This should not a be hard task for skilled lawyers: They only need to show that every successful society, from the most primitive and ancient to the most modern, has spiritual culture at its core. Inductive reasoning then forces the conclusion that religious spirituality is an essential, and almost certainly a genetic, part of being human.
Yes, there will be complications and conflict. Settled precedent must be discarded. There will be titanic legal battles before atheism is fully recognized as a competing religion, before it must humbly take its place among the others. Only then will we then have begun the healing of Constitutional America. Only then will we regain the first, and therefore the most important, Right of the most important Amendment, The First: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . .”