The main reason for the survival of religion is not a desire to live a
better life, but our fear of death, says the atheist author
You mentioned in your email that the books you’ve chosen are
ones you consider essential to understanding the merits of atheism. Can
you explain what you meant by that?
As you know I started my books with the Confessions of St
Augustine, which I don’t think is on everyone’s list of the best books
on atheism. What I meant when I said that they’re crucial to
understanding atheism’s merits is that, although that was not his
intention, to read St Augustine’s Confessions lays bare the
complete inadequacy of religion to answer the great questions of life –
which are really no different now than they were when he was grappling
with them. How do you account for sin when there is an all-powerful
all-loving God? The answer Augustine comes up with – as is the answer in
Western Christianity and in Judaism – is free will, which is a
completely inadequate answer. Either God is all-powerful and is
therefore entirely responsible for everything that happens, or he is
not, and there is not a God in this sense.
So this book is a good example of religion’s inadequacy. Atheists
don’t have to cope with the question of why there is evil in the world,
the answer is that we’re responsible for it.
In your view, should everyone be an atheist?
I don’t even know how to answer that question. Atheism seems to me to
be reasonable, but should everyone be an atheist? I don’t know. To me
that’s like asking, should everyone appreciate art? I would never set
forth a dictate like that. Although religion seems utterly irrational to
me, it gives all kinds of people a lot of things without the bad things
that we’ve seen throughout the ages in religion, and we see today in
the ultra-Islamic world. I would like to see more atheists, particularly
in America which is the only developed country which is still heavily
in the grip of religion, and in which fundamentalist religion still has
so much influence. I think fundamentalist religion of all kinds – and
most fundamentalist religions are from the monotheistic religions,
Catholicism, Protestantism, Christianity, Judaism and Islam – are
terrible forces in the world. I don’t like the fact that 25% of the
people in my country believe the Bible is literally true. That’s not
true in other developed parts of the world, it’s only true in places
where education is very poor. So America is an anomaly in that respect.
I’d like to see all fundamentalist religion go down the drain.
Written By: Sophie Roell continue to source article at fivebooks.com