Why Atheists Need to Understand the Bible
Religionists have two primary ways of spreading doctrine: heredity (the passing of religious customs from generation to generation) and formal outward conversion (door-to-door and conversational peddling of religion). Regardless of which religion is being practiced, there are various cited cases of conversion and indoctrination of children- it is clear, however, that the latter is a more effective tactic in the expansion of a belief system. Each religion (at least all successful ones) has a built-in form of reward and punishment system that ensures- to a high probability- that the beliefs and practices are passed successfully from parent to child.
In order to think about this phenomenon in practical terms, I apply the analogy of Santa Claus. I am not necessarily equating the idea of a “God” to a jolly, Christmas, caricature- but it is interesting to note that many families raise their children by enforcing a belief in Santa Claus. And if nobody ever told the child that he doesn’t exist, it is reasonable to conclude that many children would mature and maintain the belief in Saint Nicolas and possibly raise their children with those same beliefs and so on and so forth continuing the practices associated with the benevolent gift-giver and his holiday.
It is because of this ‘gift’ of faith that most religionists (often in accordance with their respective doctrines) raise their children to mirror their own religious traditions and transform the blank slates that are their children into followers of a system which they rarely question and often neglect to follow the basic tenants and principles of the faith. There is one major flaw in this technique employed by virtually every religion in the world- and that is that, in order for a theistic system to spread and remain relevant- it depends on faith, in other words ‘ignorance’, many times at the opposition of common sense and scientific facts. I’ve found that, through the spread of knowledge and reason, it is possible to combat theism and restore the United States of America to its secular roots.
I’m not saying that it is an easy task to ‘deconvert’ or even hold a logical dialogue with some religionists; after all, in many cases, they have devoted their entire lives to honoring and revering their “God(s)”. There are, however, many people who are both intelligent and reasonable, yet they have never questioned their inherited theistic traditions- these people I refer to as “religious by default”. While, if asked, these people would likely classify themselves as ‘believers’ or ‘followers’- they may not strictly follow, or even be fully aware, of the basic tenants of their religion. In North America (and Europe), the ‘default religion’ is usually a sect of Christianity, this is important because these softer Default Christians, as opposed to evangelical, fundamentalist, and extremist Christians, make up the (silent) majority. It is upon this realization that I suggest a ‘Secular Surge’, on behalf of Non-Theists around the world, in order to spread logical thinking and knowledge at the expense of blind faith- in order to ensure that science, society, and government are no longer impacted and restrained by the archaic pillars upon which supernatural religions, cults, and theism in general are built.
In order to have any hope of accomplishing such an incredible task- it is first necessary for the secularists and non-religious people to become well informed in that which they will attempt to refute- this includes taking Religious Studies courses, attending a church or other religious institution, or even a close-reading of the canonical Sacred Texts. I write this in response to the many e-mails I have received on why I focus so much of my time studying traditions that I believe to be false and often, harmful. I believe that, as a secular activist and Religious Studies scholar, it is often helpful to know more about the religions that I spend my time denouncing than the majority of its followers.
Thank you very much for your time, and please be sure to SUBSCRIBE for updates on future posts,
David G. McAfee