I’d like to see organized religion’s influence greatly diminished as I believe it to be harmful to human beings. I’d love to see it completely eradicated, but I realize that’s not possible. The reason I want it gone is that religions are based on false premises to start with and build upon them from there. Religion creates the illusory ultimate totalitarian regime with an omniscient being watching not only our every move, but our every thought. And there’s no escaping this regime because you see, man is immortal, and we will be judged and sentenced by the dictator of our totalitarian regime for all of eternity. Drilling this dogma into our children’s heads is immoral.
The bloody and tragic history of religion has been told repeatedly and for my two cents, I think that the world would be a better place without it. While an overwhelming majority of the populace of the United States allege belief in God, many have moved away from strict observances of their chosen religion. I’ve met many who no longer attend church or go to temple, will say they’re “not very religious” when asked, and believe in a God of their own understanding. A personal God if you will.
I find this distinction an improvement, and see it as perhaps an evolution toward an American society mostly free from religion. But I still ask myself why people feel the need to hang on to God, even after they’ve moved on from their religion. I know that after I moved away from the Catholic Church I still felt an occasional belief, most notably during my time in the Middle East during Operation Desert Storm. Shortly before the ground war began, I attended a few Protestant gatherings with my fellow soldiers, was given a pocket-sized New Testament and wore a cross on my dog tags with Jesus Saves written across it. Reading my book brought me some peace of mind before I flew my helicopter into Iraq. Over the years since then, I’ve continued moving away from God and Jesus and all things supernatural mostly because every time I considered them, the basis for believing in them seemed more and more absurd.
Recently I boldly and clearly stated, perhaps mostly to myself, that I am an atheist. I’m no longer a person who is non-religious, or believes in a personal God of my understanding, or feels God’s presence and just knows he’s there for me. It’s been a remarkably liberating, mind opening experience. I feel more connected to the world around me than ever before, I thirst for knowledge, I read and write almost continuously and everything has more meaning. I would hope that others would feel as I do if they make the final leap to move beyond the last boundary of a Personal God.
I read an article today with a rather misleading title; Explaining the Healing Power of Prayer. I’ve read the studies that were done showing praying for the sick had no impact on their recovery. So I was anxious to see any new test studies. Once I read the article, I was able to immediately relate it to my prior experience, i.e. giving me peace of mind before war. The power of prayer is in the mind! The ability to talk to God in your mind without fear or apprehension of a response, a fatherly figure listening patiently to whatever is troubling you is soothing to the psyche. It doesn’t even matter if you know no one is actually listening. I believe it’s much easier to be honest and open if you know you’re really just talking to yourself.
So perhaps my answer lies there. People hang on to a belief in God of some type, even if they can no longer abide by religious dogma, because it’s soothing and comforting to pray. Perhaps knowing that prayer works as the study describes will allow those who use that as their last reason for belief in a Supreme Being to let go. Keep praying when you need to, comforted hopefully by the knowledge that Big Brother isn’t eavesdropping.