2006-10-25

Speeding Through Life

Morning Drive
Regular readers (ha!) will have noticed a change in focus of this blog (and not just in the fact that there are posts again). The reason is that I'm attempting to improve my writing skills, and have chosen to talk about things that mean a lot to me in the process. So there are going to be more posts about evolution, biology, and the very interesting book I'm reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. Today I critique the conclusion of a review found on The San Francisco Chronicle by Dinesh D'Souza.

The article is mostly about Dawkins questioning of why religion exists from an evolutionary standpoint. In the book, he talks about how nature is a very precise tool and gets rid of anything that is not helping a species to survive and procreate. So what is the reason for all known human groups to have religion as part of their culture? What benefit would it provide us to help our existence?

The reviewer talks about two tribes, one religious, one secular, and how the religious one would persevere because they had a purpose to live, while the secular one would apparently be caught up in trying to figure out their purpose, instead of trying to live. I find the view of the secular tribe to be silly, as well as the conclusion that is drawn in the review.

My favorite quote from the article is in its conclusion:

"It seems perplexing why nature would breed a group of people who see no purpose to life or the universe, indeed whose only moral drive seems to be sneering at their fellow human beings who do have a sense of purpose."

Show me one atheist who sees no purpose to life. The reviewer falls into the view that the majority of theists seem to hold on atheists, that because they don't have a magical being in the sky telling them what to do, they must lack morals, a purpose, and are unwilling to contribute to society. I find this to be an insane notion, and quite the argument against religion. Every time I hear someone use the "If we didn't have god telling us our morals we'd be out raping and killing" argument I have to laugh at what that says about the person arguing. Maybe these are the people we need to keep under religion, it seems to be the only thing keeping them in check.

And as for atheists having no purpose, I would argue that since we believe that this is the only life we have, we are not headed to a better life after we die, that we have to enjoy our life now, not wait for that second chance. I think that fills us with a much greater purpose than most theists give credit for.

Maybe evolutionarily speaking religion is with us because it gave us a purpose, a set of morals. However in this age, when we know so much about the natural world, does it still serve that purpose? Do we need a made up reason to be, to tell us how to act? Or can we just enjoy this one life we have, contribute to a better world, and not waste energy, time, or money on falsehoods?

4 comments:

k said...

i must agree with you on this one. i also
hate it when people equate being atheist
with having no purpose in life.
what kind of screwed up logic arrives at
that conclusion?! those people must not
have taken discrete math! ;)

i find that most religious people believe
in their religion out of fear. which is
something that religious leaders (and US)
are great at creating.
if you were smart, you wouldn't need others to tell you what to believe in
or what is right and what is wrong.

Ali said...

I've had some interesting experiences with patients and their religions lately. I think that what religion give people is some form of answers to those big questions that nobody will ever be able to answer in any certainty. Especially where life and death are the topics. Also, religion give some people comfort. To believe that there is something out there, that there is something after this life... All of this, as well as purpose in life. However, just become someone is an atheist doesn't mean that they don't have their own way of meeting these needs that are met by religion for other people. (If that makes sense.

(Oh yeah... I started a blog on here... oooh! ;)

martin said...

Ali, people definitely do use religion to comfort themselves about death and life and such, but personally I wouldn't want to comfort myself with something that wasn't true.

Ali said...

Aaah... but then there is the question, how do we know what is true? Are we simply in a small universe which is in the drawer of a filing cabnet in a larger universe? (to use a Men in Black example). I think that it is all relative...