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.