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Contradictions Within Religion

This new addition to my ongoing series on atheism addresses some of the contradictions that one sees within religion- with particular focus on Christianity and the Bible- as well as touching upon reasons why atheism is the logical presumptive position. It also addresses why many non-theists hold a position of complete non-belief regarding the supernatural due to the application of the same logic.

Crepuscular_Rays_at_Noon_in_Saint_Peters_Basilica,_Vatican_City_(5939069865)There are many reasons why atheists may critique religious beliefs and practices, and one of these is the nature of God and belief. They may put forward reasons not to believe and argue that until these potential problems have been addressed, then there is no reason for the presumptive position to be belief in a deity. Religion is self-contradictory- as no religion is consistent in its ideology, and ideas of what is and is not acceptable evolve over time. Even when religious texts may remain largely unchanged, the interpretations will vary depending on the time and society in which they are studied. If religion was completely true and infallible, then one would not expect to see religious ideals change as society does. In addition to this, many views of God are self-contradictory themselves- the Christian God, for example, is often described as both perfectly good and as “jealous and avenging”[1], even within the Bible. With such descriptions and many seemingly destructive actions described in various holy texts, it can be argued that gods suffer from the same immorality as their human creations- and if this is so; why afford them so much influence? The very existence of suffering in the world would suggest either that God is not good and refuses to end suffering, or that He is not all-powerful and cannot. For many people, these factors remove much of the supernatural pull of religion by pointing out its faults and mundaneness, and that God is more imperfect than He may initially seem.

It is not simply God that most atheists lack belief in- they tend also to reject the existence of anything supernatural, including the idea of life after death. This lack of belief comes from the same source as non-belief in God; essentially that the burden of proof is on the believer and that there is no irrefutable evidence that an afterlife exists. For many religious people, a prominent aim in life is to be accepted into heaven after death- this motivation to live a good life does not exist for atheists. However, non-believers may adhere to the idea that life has an inherent value due to its brevity, and will therefore try to live a moral life regardless- they do not believe that life is meaningless simply because it ends at the moment the brain ceases to function. When presented with the argument that one should believe “just in case”[2], one could respond that there is no reason to presume the existence of God in order to enter heaven -should it exist- because God would not reward belief for such pragmatic reasons. In addition to this, the argument can be invalidated by pointing out the consequences of choosing the wrong god or religion to believe in- a heretic would likely be turned from heaven as quickly as a non-believer, rendering a belief in God for purely convenient reasons void.

Is there a logical basis for the belief in God, or is the pull towards religion purely an emotional one? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

[1] Nahum 1: 2-8

[2] “Pascal’s Wager”

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