As a young man, I always used to question things. Why did the ball roll down the hill instead of up it? Why can't I eat candy from the supermarket without paying for it? And, of course the big one, why is there God?
The other answers seem to be fairly well agreed upon, the ball rolls because its mass is smaller than the mass of the earth, and when gravity acts on the ball it moves down the hill. You can't steal because of a different kind of law, one that will put you in jail - or at least get a little boy grounded to his room. It soon became obvious for me: The world, as well as the solar system, galaxy and universe it all sits in, is ruled by laws. These laws, man-made or those of physics, all seem to have a purpose. A ball goes up because of a force but because of the law of gravity it comes back. So, in turn, God should be governed by law as well. Not biblical law, these were all written by man (and if you don't believe me, please open a history book because you're sorely mistaken). But the laws of physics, the laws that bind all things in the universe or plethora of multiverses.
The first answer I came to when asking this question was "God is above these laws." Well, how can that be true? Did God invent physics? Is God really that transcending that He alone acts above and beyond? Maybe. I mean, really, how can anyone know for sure?
Well, there is one way. Test the universe. Test physics. If everything can be explained, maybe there is no need for God. Or gods, if you'd rather. In more simple terms, if the universe is capable of creating itself, no one needed to create it. Many try to compare the universe to a mousetrap. They say that, even if all of the parts of the trap were somehow magically created, someone would have to assemble and set the trap for it to work. But mousetraps aren't found in nature.
"Liberal" followers of religion will likely agree that the universe was formed by the Big Bang, a sudden explosion from the quantum level outward, thrusting the entire universe away from a single point. But all seem to claim that the only possible way any the Big Bang could have occurred would be by divine intervention. Something must have existed to create such an instance, right?
You see, science is proving that the Big Bang was, in all likelihood, caused by something called the Big Crunch. While many explain the universe away as "infinite," the reality is that can't be true. Einstein showed us the fabric of Spacetime can be altered, warped by gravity and changed throughout space by objects like black holes. Following the same logic, scientists and astro-physicists have come to the conclusion that space, eventually, runs out. That there is a wall, marked by observable radiation from the Big Bang, that marks the edge of the universe.
The outward motion of the universe is also speeding up. Distance measurments such as Hubble's Law are obscured the farther out in the universe you travel because, despite moving at a steady rate around the Milky Way, in the depths of space things move faster away from us. Much like a giant tidal wave moving away from the site of an earthquake, the distant waves crash onto the shores of the unexplored nothing while, closer to the epicenter, things remain relatively calm.
With all of this information, scientists discovered that, eventually, the fabric of Spacetime would run out. Eventually things would get so spread apart that the universe would rebound and shoot back inward, probably just as fast as it was moving in the opposite direction. This wouldn't destroy planets or matter as it moved along, but instead, like a rubber band, would simply bring the material closer togetherr until, you guessed it, everything compressed in on itself. As everything gets smaller and smaller, the crunch reaches its maximum "tininess" and *BANG* everything shoots outward.
Of course there are other theories as well but the argument of "intelligent design" has all but been silenced by scientists. There is absolutely zero sienctific evidence supporting the claim and, as one article puts it, "(ID) is an 'argument from ignorance,' as it relies upon a lack of knowledge for its conclusion," (Scott and Branch, 2002). Yes, science doesn't have it "exactly" right yet, but to say that lack of knowledge or perfect reasoning means that ID is a must is irrational at best.
It's easy to dismiss people as dumb or un-read, but I don't think that's a fair shake for those who still believe in ID or even the Bible (or other creation story) word for word. I think it comes from an inate human fear, the fear of insignificance. We all suffer from it in one way or another. Religion is one manifestation of this fear, jealosy is an easily pointed out second. We fear what we don't understand, or even what we can't comprehend, so we disguise it in something else. When we look to the sky and see shimmering stars, it appears we (as humans) decided there must be a reason for our existence. We must have a purpose above the animals around us, better than bees spreading fertility as they fly into flowers. Shouldn't we?
This comes from our higher state of consciousness. We are, for all intents and purposes, higher life forms than bees, so we have the ability to ask "why," just like I grew up doing. But many refuse to accept that we just simply live and die. The common argument comes from those saying "I was meant for more" when, in reality, we were meant to live and die. Religion fills that void caused by fear. Religion allows humans to escape the possibility that we have absolutely no control over ourselves, our actions or the world around us.
It's a scary thought, I know. Why live if there is no life after death? Well, because. The meaning of life is simple: Be a human. Bees are bees. Trees are trees. Water is water. We are, in the end, just a fancy set of molecules that happened to gain cognizance because, yes, the earth is billions of years old and there is time for that. Religion is a way to allow us to feel warm and fuzzy.
Harsh? Probably. But it doesn't have to be that way.
You see, an amazing thing happened when I bucked the saddle of religion. It no longer was necessary for me to live for someone else. I didn't thank a particular person for making a sunset beautiful, I didn't have to pray for something to happen and curse someone when life worked out in someone else's favor. Because the meaning of life isn't worshipping a diety, it's not about sacrificing human hearts to make the sun rise and it's definitely not about facing a city five times a day. Life is about living. Seeing a beautiful sunset and knowing how lucky you are to be alive. If you were brought into consciousness 500 years before, the probability of you surviving childbirth alone would be a fraction of what it is today. There is no need to pray for something good to happen because you can do it. God, Buddah, Allah, Ramtha, they are not responsible for making you happy, you are. In the same vein, when something goes wrong, that's just how life works. Praying more won't make the bills or sickness go away, working hard and taking medicine will.
But my biggest complaint about religion - all of them - comes from their inclusiveness. I understand that each says they're right and others are wrong (except Islam, sort of, but that's another post in the future). Religions take what they see to be true and create a clique. Yes, just like in grade school, these groups are the cool kids on the block and everyone else is just dumb for their dumb beliefs. One groups finds their totally unrealistic story totally true and another group's equally totally unrealistic story laughable. Religions are likewise racially motivated. Think about it, how is Jesus depicted? White, European...Two things he was, without a doubt, not. The Quran is only in Arabic, and while you can get versions in other languages, Muslims preach that the only true Quran is in Arabic and in heaven with Allah. Jews have circumcision which, again, is a way to separate themselves from the unholy. Religion isn't simply about being saved, but it's actually about proving others wrong. Being right is more important than living right.
I'm told all the time that you have to do certain things to be saved. But what if being saved is an earthly goal? What if leading a proper, meaningful life here on earth is all we have? I'm sick and tired of people using the afterlife to justify their beliefs. You're a bigot. You're exlusionary. You're hateful. You're promoting injustice. You're cruel. You're all of these negative things that you say are simply part of your religion. Now, not all people of faith are this way, clearly, but it's now the vast majority. Christians in the United States are using the Bible to exclude vast numbers of people from everything - marriage is the big one now - for what? What is it helping? I was actually, truthfully told that people in the world cannot do anything helpful for anyone unless they are following Jesus Christ. Really? Feeding the hungry, building homeless shelters, hell, holding doors open...All meaningless without being a Christian?
It's time for us Atheists to stop letting "people of faith" push us around. When it comes to religion, people get afraid. People clam up, no wanting to offend anyone. Atheists and Agnostics, as well as people of religions besides Christianity (the most universalizing religion in the world), are seen as crazy, always told "well if you'd just read the Bible, then..." But that's not the case. Instead of people of faith constantly standing on their pedestals of scripture, they should be questioned and interrogated for their beliefs the same way we are for ours. Don't be afraid to ask someone "why," especially when they're asking you. Religion must not be taboo anymore.
It's simple common sense. Religion is used for explaining what is unexplainable as well as finding purpose in life. If you would rather believe your sacred texts, by all means please do, and I mean that honestly. It is your right to do what you like and to believe what you want. But when I look at the facts, the true, undeniable facts of the universe, I'm not scared because I don't have a god to turn to, I'm excited because I have myself to count on. I know that as a strong human, I can achieve the goals I set out for myself. I find explanations for the confusing questions in life in science. I find purpose in my own life and I never sit around waiting for something to fall into my lap. Common sense allows me to make the connections I need to lead a happy, fulfilled life free of the need for religion.