Reclaim Your Independence

11

By J. D. Brucker

 

We are born into this world without any knowledge of the past, present, and future. Our abilities are small in number, but our potential is vast. We have the ability to solve complex issues, come together during times of crisis, and develop complicated models that help us understand the origin of the universe. We have the ability to study evidence and to think reasonably and objectively. We possess in us the power of love ourselves and those around us, no matter what race, gender, or sexual nature, and the capabilities to express it in ways that were before unimaginable. We have the knowledge to reasonably understand the reality in which we live and with that we can see the beauty in our seemingly mundane and pointless lives. We can find the hope in humanity and harness our thinking faculties in order to bring about a more prosperous society. To me, these things make being human a unique and wonderful thing. Religion, on the other hand, threatens these very things by instilling in us unjust and irrational presumptions and fears; this very reason being why I find religion to be such a horrid force.

In order for any particular religion to succeed, it must find a way to capitalize on our inabilities, fears, and wishes. This, to me, is a disturbing idea. It strips of us our ability to truly grasp the wonder that is our existence. It must create an “us vs. them” mentality within the mind of the believer in order to maintain its community. The denial of scientific facts, the repression and subjugation of women, the social rejection of those within the LGBT community, and the suppression of knowledge are a few among the many injustices religion has committed. But for me, the idea which troubles me the most is that religion must find a way to convince us that we’re nothing without it. As atheists and humanists, we cannot love one another sufficiently, possess knowledge, make corrective decisions, and conduct ourselves in a moral way only because we live a life vacant of a theistic belief? I think differently. We are strong, numerous, and growing; flying in the face of any religious claim to the contrary. But as for those who still find themselves believing, it is them that I fear for the most.

Christianity, as an example, asks of us to sacrifice the very things that makes our humanity something worthwhile: Our ability to reason, to ask questions, and love ourselves no matter our flaws. Christianity commands that we believe of ourselves as wretched, undeserving beings with only punishment promised in our future. Once we concede to this idea, Christianity conveniently delivers us an important message: As for your inadequacies, we can take them away only through faith in Jesus Christ. But in order to have faith, one must remove from themselves the ability to think objectively while simultaneously seeking answers in a subjective way. To me, this does nothing to help flush-out the beauty of life. It undoubtedly clouds our perception of reality by forcing us to accept bad information for an emotional response. So much for facts, Christianity says, let’s believe this bit over here only so that our already-accepted beliefs conform to a fantastical and made-up reality.

There are much better, more realistic means to achieve the results that stem from a belief in God. In my experience, religious individuals cling to these reasons simply because it’s all they’ve known. They’ve been told, presumably since a very young age, that religious faith trumps rational inquiry. This is because God and Christianity have been placed on a pedestal higher than humanity in the mind of the religious; we’re imagined as wicked creations in comparison to a loving and caring god; this being the most terrible aspect to Christianity. But we’re better than that.

To most Christians, a belief in the God is a wonderful thing. They have a personal relationship with their creator. He cares for them and watches out for them on a minute-by-minute basis. God inspires them in times of despair and offers challenges when their humility is low. He teaches them how to be morally-functioning human beings. He offers a sense of community that may’ve been otherwise unachievable. And through him do they understand all things in life. There is only one single problem with these statements: God doesn’t exist. They’ve failed to acknowledge they are their own most powerful ally and defender. But all hope is not lost.

Once I found atheism, a sobering comfort overwhelmed me. I no longer felt superior to those around me; it humbled my entirety. I found ways to find the beauty in others without seeing them for our differences. I finally learned to understand my place in this often hectic and seemingly unforgiving world. If you’re new to atheism and find yourself without guidance and trembling with fear, remember these things: You’re not alone, the beauty of reality is much more amazing than anything your religion proposed, and we love you regardless of your short-comings. Religion has done its fair share of damage, but it’s time we reclaim our species from the plague that has consumed humanity from its most primitive form and it must be done before we forget what it’s like to be human. We are independent and intelligent beings that deserve more than what we’ve been given.


 

 

About J.D. Brucker

J. D. Brucker was born near Chicago, Illinois and raised in a Christian household. Having a Lutheran background, he was placed in a church-operated school system at the age of 13. The violent nature of religion and the intellectual ramifications of faith remained clouded by the mild indoctrination that was attempted on him. For much of his early life, he distantly believed in God. After he began to understand the history of religion and the beauty of reality, he could no longer support a belief. Now, J. D. Brucker is an atheist author and blogger, a secular humanist, and an outspoken anti-theist. He studied world history at Eastern Illinois University. As the communicator of humanism for the Global Secular Council (headed by the Secular Coalition for America) he believes that in order to better society for generations to come, we need to make sure the world we see today isn’t the world they will see tomorrow. He hopes for a society free from the tyranny and bigotry that can spawn from religious dogma. Brucker believes that non-theism, skepticism, humanism, and secularism are our greatest allies. Currently, Brucker writes for the Atheist Republic website. Other works can be found on various secular websites. His first book (Improbable: Is There Any Reason To Believe In God?) was published in December, 2013 by Dangerous Little Books. Visit his website here.

11 COMMENTS

  1. True, the criticism applies to all religions, but christianity is the one the author is most familiar with. Richard Dawkins has said much the same thing.

    I liked this little essay. The author could be a little bit of Hitchens if he went more for the jugular.

    Steve

  2. I enjoyed reading this and liked the writer’s style, it was not in your face and too preachy, as some are. I like to be informed and educated but not preached at and I think J. D. Bruckner has the ability to do this, I will certainly look out for more of his stuff.

    As he mentioned how religion expects us to sacrifice our ability to reason, I thought the following quotes worth noting, especially as Bruckner has escaped from a Lutheran background. Thanks to this site (http://www.jesuscult.com/Luther_Anti-Reason.htm) for supplying them.

    Martin Luther
    The damned whore, Reason

    The following quotes concerning the evil of human reason are from the father of Christian Protestantism, Martin Luther:

    “Die verfluchte Huhre, Vernunft.” (The damned whore, Reason).

    “Reason is the Devil’s greatest whore; by nature and manner of being she is a noxious whore; she is a prostitute, the Devil’s appointed whore; whore eaten by scab and leprosy who ought to be trodden under foot and destroyed, she and her wisdom … Throw dung in her face to make her ugly. She is and she ought to be drowned in baptism… She would deserve, the wretch, to be banished to the filthiest place in the house, to the closets.”
    Martin Luther, Erlangen Edition v. 16, pp. 142-148

    “Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but — more frequently than not — struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.”

    “Reason must be deluded, blinded, and destroyed. Faith must trample underfoot all reason, sense, and understanding, and whatever it sees must be put out of sight and … know nothing but the word of God.”

    “There is on earth among all dangers no more dangerous thing than a richly endowed and adroit reason… Reason must be deluded, blinded, and destroyed.”
    Martin Luther, quoted by Walter Kaufmann, The Faith of a Heretic, (Garden City, NY, Doubleday, 1963), p. 75

    “Reason should be destroyed in all Christians.”

    “Whoever wants to be a Christian should tear the eyes out of his Reason.”

    “To be a Christian, you must “pluck out the eye of reason.””

    “People gave ear to an upstart astrologer [Copernicus] who strove to show that the earth revolves, not the heavens or the firmament, the sun and the moon. Whoever wishes to appear clever must devise some new system, which of all systems is of course the very best. This fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred scripture tells us [Joshua 10:13] that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the earth.”
    Martin Luther, “Works,” Volume 22, c. 1543

    “We know, on the authority of Moses, that longer than six thousand years the world did not exist.”
    Martin Luther, “Lectures on Genesis”

    “All our experience with history should teach us, when we look back, how badly human wisdom is betrayed when it relies on itself.”

  3. @ Stephen Mynett -
    “Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but — more frequently than not — struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.”

    Well! Luther managed to get that bit right! – Even if his thinking was perversely backwards!

  4. I am annoyed at how slow the atheist movement is going. It is just frightening to think that a significant majority of the world’s population still sincerely believes in a supernatural being. Even supposedly intelligent people like Francis Collins have this delusion. In my frustration I have come to believe ridicule is the only way to respond to the religious. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to put a dent in the religious mind either.

    • @ prietenul – In my frustration I have come to believe ridicule is the only way to respond to the religious. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to put a dent in the religious mind either.

      Ridicule will probably have little effect on deeply indoctrinated closed minds, but can be very effective when directed to audiences they are trying to impress with posturing “authority” and “pseudo-expertise”!

  5. The possibility of integrity eliminates the need for expression of that integrity. Good people do not have need to express their goodness, true atheist do not have need to express their atheism (but they are forced to), they just live it. Happy people do not write history. Perhaps of that, one may have a feeling that there is a generally slow progress of atheism. :)

  6. Modesti – The possibility of integrity eliminates the need for expression of that integrity. Good people do not have need to express their goodness,

    Yesterday I was helping man a publicity stand at a local festival, promoting botanical education and conservation projects.

    There was another stand not far away with lots of young Chinese publicising the True Jesus Church, – giving out leaflets, giving sweets to kids to entice them into a play tent, and trying to persuade people to come to one of their church meetings.

    There are obvious questions about any organisation which feels the need to assert “true” in its name!

    At one rather comical point of gross mistiming, they assembled an ad-hoc choir which I was unable to hear due to its failure to compete with the nearby brass band!

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