Sam Harris has written interesting books on the topic of atheism. He presents great logic behind his ideas. I have seen it written (I can’t remember where) that atheism is in many ways where being gay and lesbian was 30 years ago. That is, people are afraid to say they are atheist because of the ramification. Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins both have written books that call for atheists to “come out” with their beliefs.
Here is an excerpt from an article that Sam Harris wrote in Newsweek:
Despite a full century of scientific insights attesting to the antiquity of life and the greater antiquity of the Earth, more than half the American population believes that the entire cosmos was created 6,000 years ago. This is, incidentally, about a thousand years after the Sumerians invented glue. Those with the power to elect presidents and congressmen—and many who themselves get elected—believe that dinosaurs lived two by two upon Noah’s Ark, that light from distant galaxies was created en route to the Earth and that the first members of our species were fashioned out of dirt and divine breath, in a garden with a talking snake, by the hand of an invisible God.
This is embarrassing. But add to this comedy of false certainties the fact that 44 percent of Americans are confident that Jesus will return to Earth sometime in the next 50 years, and you will glimpse the terrible liability of this sort of thinking. Given the most common interpretation of Biblical prophecy, it is not an exaggeration to say that nearly half the American population is eagerly anticipating the end of the world. It should be clear that this faith-based nihilism provides its adherents with absolutely no incentive to build a sustainable civilization—economically, environmentally or geopolitically. Some of these people are lunatics, of course, but they are not the lunatic fringe. We are talking about the explicit views of Christian ministers who have congregations numbering in the tens of thousands. These are some of the most influential, politically connected and well-funded people in our society.
It is, of course, taboo to criticize a person’s religious beliefs. The problem, however, is that much of what people believe in the name of religion is intrinsically divisive, unreasonable and incompatible with genuine morality. One of the worst things about religion is that it tends to separate questions of right and wrong from the living reality of human and animal suffering. Consequently, religious people will devote immense energy to so-called moral problems—such as gay marriage—where no real suffering is at issue, and they will happily contribute to the surplus of human misery if it serves their religious beliefs.
A case in point: embryonic-stem-cell research is one of the most promising developments in the last century of medicine. It could offer therapeutic breakthroughs for every human ailment (for the simple reason that stem cells can become any tissue in the human body), including diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, severe burns, etc. In July, President George W. Bush used his first veto to deny federal funding to this research. He did this on the basis of his religious faith. Like millions of other Americans, President Bush believes that “human life starts at the moment of conception.” Specifically, he believes that there is a soul in every 3-day-old human embryo, and the interests of one soul—the soul of a little girl with burns over 75 percent of her body, for instance—cannot trump the interests of another soul, even if that soul happens to live inside a petri dish. Here, as ever, religious dogmatism impedes genuine wisdom and compassion.
A 3-day-old human embryo is a collection of 150 cells called a blastocyst. There are, for the sake of comparison, more than 100,000 cells in the brain of a fly. The embryos that are destroyed in stem-cell research do not have brains, or even neurons. Consequently, there is no reason to believe they can suffer their destruction in any way at all. The truth is that President Bush’s unjustified religious beliefs about the human soul are, at this very moment, prolonging the scarcely endurable misery of tens of millions of human beings.
Given our status as a superpower, our material wealth and the continuous advancements in our technology, it seems safe to say that the president of the United States has more power and responsibility than any person in history. It is worth noting, therefore, that we have elected a president who seems to imagine that whenever he closes his eyes in the Oval Office—wondering whether to go to war or not to go to war, for instance—his intuitions have been vetted by the Creator of the universe. Speaking to a small group of supporters in 1999, Bush reportedly said, “I believe God wants me to be president.” Believing that God has delivered you unto the presidency really seems to entail the belief that you cannot make any catastrophic mistakes while in office. One question we might want to collectively ponder in the future: do we really want to hand the tiller of civilization to a person who thinks this way?
I do not want to discuss religion.. nor do I try to convert anyone.. what we beleive is what we beleive.. and I respect whatever anyones choice is. Personally I do believe in God. I would hate to think of a world without God, where people were not afraid of the possibility of hell. Depressed and dying people knowing that they had nothing to loose could risk anything because it didn’t matter. Many believers in God, Christians and Jews alike find great comfort through life believing that there is a paradise in the after life. They also find great comfort in times of trouble to believe there is some power greater than their own to protect them. There is no scientific proof of God.. There is also no scientific proof that He doesn’t exist.
Its up to each person to decide. I believe, but that doesn’t mean that I believe everything in the Bible is fact. Perhaps some were stories carried on for generations to help us to believe. Religion teaches us many things. respect for life and others lives, that is most important. I’d like to think that if every human being lived by the 10 Commandments, what an amazing world this would be. Its not a question of did God actually write them on stones thousands of years ago, and make them rules for us to live by.. It doesn’t matter where they came from, but they are a list of good moral values.. Do not Kill, Do not steal, do not lie.. basic common sense.. What truly amazes me is that the majority of wars are based on religion.. If we believe in God then how can we kill?
I think we would all like proof that there is or is not a God.. but that’s where Faith steps in. I often wonder, why can’t just one dead person I know, come down and tell me, “yes its real!” I often think of the story of Fatima. 3 children back in 1917 said they saw Mary and predicted that on October 13, 1917 Mary would prove it to the rest of the world. Scientists tried to explain the phenomenon of the sun that day, and they came up with some scientific reason, but what they couldn’t explain was, how did those little children know it would happen..
Taken from Wikepedia.com:
On October 13, 1917, the final in the series of the apparitions of 1917, a crowd believed to be approximately 70,000 in number, including newspaper reporters and photographers, gathered at the Cova da Iria in response to reports of the children’s prior claims that on that day a miracle would occur “so that all may believe”. It rained heavily that day, yet, countless observers reported that the clouds broke, revealing the sun as an opaque disk spinning in the sky and radiating various colors of light upon the surroundings, then appearing to detach itself from the sky and plunge itself towards the earth in a zigzag pattern, finally returning to its normal place, and leaving the people’s once wet clothing now completely dry. The event is known as the “Miracle of the Sun”..
Columnist Avelino de Almeida of O Século (Portugal’s most influential newspaper, which was pro-government in policy and avowedly anti-clerical), reported the following “Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was biblical as they stood bare-headed, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws-the sun ‘danced’ according to the typical expression of the people.” Eye specialist Dr. Domingos Pinto Coelho, writing for the newspaper Ordem reported “The sun, at one moment surrounded with scarlet flame, at another aureoled in yellow and deep purple, seemed to be in an exceeding fast and whirling movement, at times appearing to be loosened from the sky and to be approaching the earth, strongly radiating heat”. The special reporter for the October 17, 1917 edition of the Lisbon daily, O Dia, reported the following, “…the silver sun, enveloped in the same gauzy grey light, was seen to whirl and turn in the circle of broken clouds…The light turned a beautiful blue, as if it had come through the stained-glass windows of a cathedral, and spread itself over the people who knelt with outstretched hands…people wept and prayed with uncovered heads, in the presence of a miracle they had awaited. The seconds seemed like hours, so vivid were they.”
No movement or other phenomenon of the sun was registered by scientists at the time. According to contemporary reports from poet Afonso Lopes Vieira and schoolteacher Delfina Lopes with her students and other witnesses in the town of Alburita, the solar phenomena were visible from up to forty kilometers away. The three shepherd children, in addition to reporting seeing the actions of the sun that day, also reported seeing a panorama of visions, including those of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of Saint Joseph blessing the people. The Benedictine historian of science, Fr. Stanley Jaki, has suggested that the apparent movement of the sun was a hallucination caused by an atmospheric inversion, but that the children’s foreknowledge of the apparent sign was miraculous
Faith and religious choice are an extremely personal decision, as is disbelief. Everyone should be able to speak their beliefs without punishment or bigotry from those with different beliefs. I believe in God; though I find many faults in organized religion, I go to church. Those who don’t believe should be able to say so as easily as those who don’t and both sides must respect the other’s choices.
I respect what every person has to say and I can’t help to admit that some of it makes sense. However, it’s nearly impossible to explain to someone who doesn’t believe in God that he is real. The best way that I can explain it is to say: It’s like the wind that you can’t see but you know that it is there because you can feel it all around you. By the way, I am the kind of person that always needs proof…you tell me something and I will do my research before I decide if it’s true or not. I always need concrete proof. That being said, I am absolutely 100% sure of God and I can’t even see him – that is how strongly I feel him in my life. For those of you who have never felt God, you will never know what you are missing.