Feedback discussions - Wheatland
asks about my opinions on non-Christian religions.
----- Original Message -----
To: Steve Locks
Sent: 10 September 2001 21:04
Subject: question for Steve
Here's a quick question if you please. Being atheistic, your objection, by
definition, would be against all religious groups, would it not? Your
discussions, from my reading, seem to be centered around your objections
with Christianity, mainly. Our your objections with other religions, say
Judaism, similar? No need to elaborate, but would appreciate an answer.
From: Steve Locks
Sent: 13 September 2001 23:20
Subject: Re: question for Steve
Sorry for the delay in writing, but like everybody I guess, I've been glued to the TV.
To recap - you asked:
<< Being atheistic, your objection, by definition, would be against all religious groups, would it not? Your discussions, from my reading, seem to be centered around your objections with Christianity, >>
I think the answer would be the same for pretty much anybody, whether an atheist or a believer in one particular religion. Do Christians, Muslims, Hindu's, followers of Rev Moon and Hare Krishna by definition object to all religions other than their own? A Christian or a Muslim, Jew etc. disbelieves in thousands of other gods and if they felt so urged could point a critical eye at beliefs other than their own, as has obviously happened down the ages and continues today. Even within a religion such as Christianity, believers will accuse others of not being "true Christians" etc. due to a perceived moral or doctrinal deficiency. Atheists believe in one less god than a monotheistic theist so I don't think we are that different when it comes to disagreeing with the beliefs of more than one religious group.
So, I think we're pretty much in the same boat on this one. There is an exception though. I doubt atheists feel spiritually divided from other people in the same way that some religious people do from those outside their flock. Nobody in an atheist's eyes is being influenced by Satan or is in a wrong relationship with a deity. Neither do I feel anybody deserves to be tortured for ever. Unfortunately there are plenty of religious people who do feel that way.
As I explained to Ashley Coogan my site is geared towards being a meta resource for testimonies and reflections of those who left Christianity. I concentrate on Christianity as it is in my past and it is what I feel qualified to talk about. I have read a few stories from ex-Hindu's and ex-Muslims and although interesting there was a lot of detail about those religions that I do not feel qualified to discuss. However, if I was an ex-Hindu or ex-Muslim then I would probably talk about leaving those religions instead of Christianity and only give Christianity the occasional glance.
Anyway, there is far more to the story than my views. I held a poll a while ago which showed that whilst 80% of ex-Christians become atheists or agnostics and a further 8% go on to a non theistic religion, 9% go on to a non-Christian theism. Just today I received a long email from a new ex-Christian who remains a theist.
I would like to urge caution with the word "objection." Although I guess anybody would find something objectionable in another religion somewhere, it is not a blanket objection that I have against all religions. Most religions, and especially the big ones, appear to be a mixed bag and contain an enormous spectrum of views. Christianity, for instance goes from the Sea of Faith http://www.sofn.org.uk/ at one end to Christian Reconstructionists http://www.publiceye.org/magazine/v08n1/chrisrec.html at the other. See here for how I carry on in "real life" versus http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~slocks/asym/jreply2sup/polemics.html and here for my reactions to some unpleasant religious views I have found on the Internet. The Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance http://www.religioustolerance.org/welcome.htm have a wealth of information on just how wide this spectrum is. To say that I "object" to all religions when even within a single religion there can be such a huge spectrum of views would be unduly simplistic. Rather I would say that although some beliefs such as the attempts to legitimise genocide or justify everlasting torture (see my feedback conversation with Dr. Garrett) are objectionable, I can only generalise as far as saying that I do not find myself believing any supernatural theistic claims that I have heard so far. I have not been convinced by religious apologetics for a long time, or claims for a spirituality only believers can supposedly have.
To take your example of Judaism, my objections would include questions on the coherence and goodness of a deity and the bloody and immoral nature of the Hebrew bible. That is one reason I find supernatural Judaism incoherent and impossible to believe. Christianity includes this and adds the enormous problems with the doctrine of the atonement http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~slocks/asym/jordan.html#phil and other related moral and religious problems of its own. Ancient Norse religions, Christian Science, the Moonies etc. all have some individual problems of their own too. I would not however have any problem with somebody being Jewish or Christian or whatever as long as they did not try to put (e.g.) cruel biblical principles into practice like Christian Reconstructionists would like to do for instance. On the other hand religion can cause misguided action even when the majority believe them to be doing good, such as Mother Theresa http://www.abarnett.demon.co.uk/atheism/links.html#TERESA
So in summary, do I object to all religious groups?
Not really. Although I find I don't believe in deities any more, religious groups are very broad and unless they appear dangerous or interfere with people's freedom to live and think then I live and let live too. Also some religions are atheistic or very agnostic (e.g. Buddhists, Taoists) but are even so still not to my taste. Although I could deal out some criticisms of non-Christian religions, just like Christians themselves do, since I am an ex-Christian I choose to have a website about that which I know best on the religion front.
I hope that helps.