Monday, December 7, 2009

Religion, Nature forces of evil or forces for good?

The mail

I recently had an exchange with my family commenting on an interview of Abdelwahab Meddeb on French Radio France station. The main questions were:
Did Islam became both the religion of the oppressors and the oppressed?
Are violence and exclusion intrinsic to Islam?
Is Islam inconsistent with modernity?

It made me tick and I answered:
"You don't need the interrogation point, and it should be:
Religion is the ground for both the oppressors and the oppressed.
Violence and exclusion are intrinsic to Religion.
Religion is inconsistent with modernity."

I completed the mail with:
"Nature is far too big and beautiful as it is! We do not need the supernatural to be overwhelmed!
Take the trouble to try to understand the world as it is ... You will not be disappointed!"

Since my family is mainly speaking French, they don't read this blog and my strong Atheism took them by surprise! Anyway, I got many answers from my mail, but two of them are interesting me here.
The first one from my uncle: He argues that Nature is cruel, unfair and violent. Nature gave us the "law of the jungle", "the strongest survive" and leaves us in despair in front of our big losses we cannot understand.
The second mail from my aunt argue that without Religion we will not have Soeur Emmanuelle and her great charitable work.

Religion, Nature, Good, Evil

Thinking about it, what amazed me is that the two concepts:
  • Nature is a force of Evil
  • Religion is a force for Good

are a strong part of our common culture. We take them, like they are, without questioning!

The more I think about it, the more I tend to think the opposite.

This concept of "religion as a force for good" re-appeared in another discussion I had with my family. Fred, you should acknowledge the great moral progress that swept over Europe with the growth of Christianity. The Christian's communities promoted love of each others and a greater respect for women.
In a word, it was barbarian tribes and roman delinquency replaced with loving communities of Roman Catholic Church goers.

The reason for me to write this blog entry, is that these associations Nature = Evil, Religion = Good are hurting me personally.
The more I learn about the Universe, Physics, Astronomy, Biology, the more I'm in awe and amazed by Nature and our ability to understand it. The more I learn about Religion, it's origin, what people do in its name the more I'm disgusted.
Conclusion: I'm becoming a bad person with a tendency to love Evil!

Sorry, I don't feel that way! I feel exactly the opposite!

It's the opposite

So, what are the argument that points to:
  • Nature as a force for Good
  • Religion as a force of Evil

I did not have to search for long to find amazing list of good ones:

Anyway here is how I see it.

Force for Good!

We are one of the social species of this planet. Like all social animals we evolved to take advantages of the great benefits of cooperation. Being together as a coherent social group is a lot better than a collection of pure selfish individuals.
The base for physics (and most forms of life) is achieving the most for less = efficiency. So, Nature is, at its core, selfish and lazy :D
Still, human nature is altruistic and loving, because (and it was proved with game theory mathematics) a social group is more efficient than selfish lazy individuals.
So, nature is a force for good for the human specie, and I will add: Human nature is the only force for good!
What I mean is that the "Zeitgeist" always progress towards better social justice. Once a civilization abolished Men Slavery, Women Slavery, Racism, Gay discrimination, and so on, it is almost impossible to go backwards. It becomes a strong part of our society, and the benefits become so strong and evident that there are no way back.
The Zeitgeist progress experienced during the early christian wave in Europe is not due to Christianity as a religion, but to the acceptance by human nature of a better social environment.
And about Soeur Emmanuelle, I'm certain that she will have been a great charitable women even if she was not a Catholic None!
The proof to this, is the huge amount of non-believers that are participating in all the great NGO and Charity group all around the world. They get no publicity, since saying: "I'm a 'Medecin Sans Frontiere' and I don't believe in God!" will put you on the list of the closest mental hospital.
But if you say: "I'm a religious Catholic Nun saving the poor!" WOW, you are a great woman.
Furthermore, what a pity to think that she helped the poor only because she wants to go to heaven and not to hell! What a selfish person!

It's actually simpler than that:
  1. Since there are no evidence of God doing intervention for Good directly, all religious claims for good actions are done by "human beings". So, human nature is actually taking the credits for all of these :)
  2. Since there are a lot of good actions done by non-believers, "human nature" is also taking the credits.

Force for Good: Religion: 0 Nature: 2

Force of Evil!

First I can say that Nature is what it is! Nature has no intentions (contrary to a megalomaniac creator of the Universe), and no goals. If you don't like Nature, well life is a bitch!
It goes back to the point of "The consolation of Religion".
Here Dawkins says "The fact that it offers consolation, does not make it true". True but I think there is a lot to explore and investigate in the process of finding consolation in Nature. I'm spending lately a lot of brain cycles on this, and I love how it makes me feel.
We are on this "pale blue dot" speck of space dust and still everything we do has an influence on the world, forever. Everything we touch, everything we say, the non-sense I write influence the next event.
We are the product of an extraordinary, mind blowing chain of events, and what we do today will influence tomorrow and the far future.
Thinking for example about that great list of stars that exploded to create the atoms in our body, the first unicellular bacteria of earth that polluted the atmosphere with oxygen, the crazy lemur that decided to hide underground while the dinosaurs where dying, and so on.
I'm not the right person to explore and explain this, but I strongly feel that Nature as it is (and as we explore it with Science) can be a great consolation for our fear of death and the unknown. This is how I feel when listening to Neal de Grasse Tyson!

Finally, about the horror of religion (mostly from God Is Not Great of Christopher Hitchens) I will just list my personal favorites:
  • Wars that last forever because of Religion: Belfast, Sarayevo, Israel, Soudan, Iran
  • September 11
  • American Christians created a movie and 3D virtual reality of Hell for their 12 years old children. So, they will know what it will be like! Child abuse?
  • Catholic church forbidding the usage of condoms in Africa: 12 millions death! Crime against humanity?
  • Catholic church covering the rape of children by their priests. Last judgment asked for $1M per child. Answer of the church: But there are hundreds of them! It will ruin us! can we get a rebate? Should you get a discount if you rape more than 10 children?
  • Salman Rushdie. A public order for a hit man done by a state! Christians and Jews answer to the order: You should not write blasphemy! Complicity in murder?
  • Campaign in Israel when Gaza settlement were removed: A Jew cannot expelled another Jew! Leads to: A Jew can expel and/or kill a christian!

And so on...

Force for Evil: Religion: 25764 Nature: 0

Sorry guys, for me it's not "God! I have no need for this hypothesis", but "God! The supernatural being that destroys human nature and makes us inhuman"