No Need for Anger, but Cause for Worry

“The knowledge exists by which universal happiness can be secured; the chief obstacle to its utilization for that purpose is the teaching of religion.” – Bertrand Russell

I am accused, sometimes, of being an “angry atheist.” Sometimes it is implied that I am some sort of misanthrope or closeted totalitarian. This is a serious misunderstanding that must be corrected. I do not go around bashing people for their beliefs simply because I am angry with what they believe. If a see a woman, say, in an elevator wearing a cross, I do not immediately start berating her about her beliefs. If someone makes a serious claim when not in possession of good evidence, then I honestly and openly engage in discussion and free inquiry.

What I do not do is become angry about people’s beliefs — I become worried. I am worried that medieval or Iron Age metaphysical ideas immersed in a culture that devalues critical thinking — and is armed with thermonuclear weapons — will unmake the human project of building a durable future for our species. I worry that if a piece of architecture is blown up in Jerusalem, the world may suffer massive, enduring dislocation. I worry that future generations will be indoctrinated to not question their deeply-held convictions about the nature of reality, and will be encouraged to act upon these beliefs in destructive ways. I worry about the psychological harm inflicted by beliefs on millions of small children throughout the world. These are some of the countless worries that run through my brain when I observe people believing the ridiculous.

I think that most people are not at fault for their own ignorance. It takes a crowd to lie to oneself sometimes. Authority figures blindfold their charges regularly. I should not be angry with (or feel higher than) people whose ignorance is not their fault. What I cannot stand are people who willingly blind others to perpetuate bogus beliefs. These are the people I am justified in being angry with. I worry about the ones who have been blinded, and I hope one day that they break free. I will try to help them toward this goal.

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~ by jsacc001 on March 16, 2008.

One Response to “No Need for Anger, but Cause for Worry”

  1. Marx’s analysis of Feuerbach’s theory of religion is in my opinion dead on with what you’re saying. Religion according to Feuerbach was man’s way to cope with the imperfect world in which we find ourselves. By creating this utopian ideal of Heaven (Side note: If you had to label Heaven with a form of government what would it be? Most argue the idea of Heaven is socialist in itself, just don’t tell that to the Republicans) man can live in this imperfect world with the idea that he will be rewarded in the next life. This alarms me also, the fact that we don’t try to correct the imperfect world we accept it as is in hopes to live a better life in the next life, of which we have no proof of.

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