Atheism Central for Secondary Schools
|Site links||Why be an atheist?|
"The man who does not do his own thinking is a slave, and is a traitor to himself and to his fellow-men."
"I am as firmly convinced that religions do harm as I am that they are untrue."
Bertrand Russell, 'Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays'
"Faith is essentially intolerant...essentially because necessarily bound up with faith is the illusion that one's cause is also God's cause."
"I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organised in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world."
"If anyone can show me, and prove to me, that I am wrong in thought or deed, I will gladly change. I seek the truth, which never yet hurt anybody. It is only persistence in self-delusion and ignorance which does harm."
"There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness."
George Washington, address to Congress, 8 January, 1790
"In those parts of the world where learning and science have prevailed, miracles have ceased; but in those parts of it as are barbarous and ignorant, miracles are still in vogue."
Ethan Allen, 'Reason the Only Oracle of Man', 1784
|1. Religion is harmful because it claims knowledge of an
absolute truth about what it is to be human. By definition such a claim
is dangerous. It leads to immoral decision-making and excludes new insights
into what it is to be human.
2. Religion blocks the development of rationalism as the guiding principle of human development.
3. Religion hinders the development of scientific knowledge.
4. Religion gives a distorted view of reality by claiming false things to be true.
5. "Reality conflict" produces real emotional distress - with damage to individuals and their families. The faithful suffer stress because the evidence of their senses and experience conflicts with their relious beliefs. An extreme example of such a conflict: in theory religions welcome death as the ultimate salvation - in practice few of the faithful seem to be very keen on it.
6. Religion creates and reinforces rifts between different communities. It spreads from generation to generation like a computer virus and perpetuates these rifts over many generations.
7. Vices develop when people are forced to keep different aspects of their humanity in separate compartments. Vices are created when natural behaviour is defined as sin.
8. Religion discourages the development of democratic systems of government, freedom of expression and the evolution of society. Because religious organisations are hierarchical and the guys at the top are always right this encourages an undemocratic mind-set. Perhaps this is why so many religions are so tolerant of war - the ultimate imposition of power over others.
For many, being an atheist or agnostic is part of a liberal world-view that accepts that it is impossible to have any moral certainty about what is right or wrong, that people come to different conclusions, and that generally we should 'live and let live.' Liberal attitudes are held towards matters such as sex and abortion and towards religious freedom, for example.
These pages would have no argument with such attitudes but do hold that it is important to think through what you believe to be right or wrong or someone else will do your thinking for you.
However, being an atheist or agnostic does not necessarily imply having liberal views. There are, no doubt, those who do not have liberal attitudes or, alternatively those who interpret the absence of god to mean that there is no need to act in a moral way.
In the future, this site will discuss what constitutes moral benaviour and attempt to find a way of determining one or two guiding principles to use as a starting point.
Title: 'Atheism Central for Secondary Schoolsl' Copyright © 1998, Alan Urdaibay visit our sponsor.