Wednesday, 31 December 2008


Do we need faith? There are those, theists and non-theists alike who claim that we do. They claim that people need to believe in something; need to have hope in something. Some claim that people can't be good without big brother watching over their shoulder (ironically, many Xians also claim that we can't be good even with god watching over our shoulders!) I find all of these ideas to be condescending, however, and part of the larger problem that religion instills in us - that we should consider ourselves to be unworthy, lowly creatures, worthy of only disdain and scorn and eternal hellfire.

Do we really need some god looking over us to be good people? I don't think so. But, when we are conditioned from an early age to think that we are evil, sinners is it any surprise when people act that way? Yes, some people act badly, but do they do it because they think god isn't watching or because they don't believe in god? No. They do it in spite of the existence or non-existence of god. Similarly, most people do good not because they are constantly calculating what god wants, but because they have values instilled in them from their upbringing and their culture and most importantly from their evolutionary history. Sure, some people perform good acts simply because they believe god is watching them and will reward them, but this actually makes their actions less moral in that they are only doing good to gain a reward.

Anyway, I'm curious to see what other people think. Do we need faith? Do we need to believe in something?


a1021 said...

i think in most of your posts you are writing "religion" when you mean christianity and islam. religion has many faces. i am a "theist", however i am neither christian nor moslem so i don't feel the compulsion to force my religion on anyone. in fact, my god treats me as an equal and not as a servant.
some people need religion, some people don't. i need it and most importantly i want it.
this all wouldn't be a problem if people would treat their religion as a hobby, and would stop trying to convert other people or force their morality upon them.
because i could care less if someone is nice to me because he is nice or because he fears punishment as long as he doesn't try to punish me.

Christopher Mitchell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tigerboy said...

CHRISTOPHER MITCHELL--"Now, in Old Testament times, you had to sacrifice a goat or something just to get some fogiveness back for any and every trespass or act of wickedness.

The New Testament changes all that ... through Christ's sacrifice ..."

You realize, of course, that the act to which you refer is called "scapegoating," and it's where we get the modern word "scapegoat" which refers to blaming (punishing) an innocent bystander for our own wrongdoing.

The original act of scapegoating involved saying a prayer which would transfer all the sins of the pious onto the innocent goat, then the goat would be killed, and the sin would die with the goat. That's the barbarous, Iron Age thinking anyway!

The New Testament doesn't change much! It merely changes the species of the scapegoat. The new innocent upon whom the pious transfer all sin is Christ. The whole Christian crucifixion scene is a barbarous scapegoating ceremony.

Sacrificing goats ... sacrificing itinerant preachers .... it's all really similar, and really, really primitive and superstitious.

Does punishing an innocent in order to be forgiven for one's own wrongdoing make a bit of logical sense? Of course not! It's pathetic and absurd.

It's funny how most people have a visceral sense of the barbarism and foolishness of sacrificing animals at the altar, but make the sacrifice a sandal-wearing, bearded, flying carpenter man and they're totally into it.