LETTER: Religion not prerequisite for loveTo the Telegram: I’d like to respond to a letter in the Jan. 1 Tribune that claims “Children are taught they are only animals.”
To the Telegram:
I’d like to respond to a letter in the Jan. 1 Tribune that claims “Children are taught they are only animals.”
Many atheists and their parents, who have barely ever attended a church service in their lives, are nonetheless ethical and caring individuals. The usual argument — that most values originated from religious traditions that exclusively make civilization possible is, perhaps good — as far as it goes, but it fails to point out that human beings have used the teachings of every major religion to justify killing, raping and destroying the lives of others without those same beliefs.
For Christianity, the prime examples are the crusades from the 11th through the 13th centuries — used to justify the killing and destruction of “infidels,” or nonbelievers in the name of Christ, just to take control of the “holy land” while drenching it in blood.
In our own American history, religious zealotry has been involved in slavery, racism, subjugation of women and repression of many other ideas and groups — all the more efficiently when using religious texts to justify regimented submission in the name of salvation. Even people of faith, who would never be personally violent, open the door to abuse by claiming that all other religions are false, based on their similar histories of violence.
The theory of evolution neither negates nor proves the existence of a God, but it does point to solid evidence that affirms physical evolution, which in turn, does not negate the idea that spiritual evolution may also, be part of the mix. What science does is completely refute the biblical timelines claiming the earth as being under 10,000 years old.
Two examples of ethical, or moral, atheists are Mark Twain, whose writings highlighted the abhorrent institution of slavery — making many assertions concerning human dignity — and John Lennon, who famously co-wrote the song, “All You Need is Love’” as well as many other beautiful expressions highlighting love, compassion, and parenthood. Yet he dared to express those beliefs personally rather than be intimidated by “losing his soul” for not bowing to the “right” God.
The fact that the physical world is evolving is directly provable by science. Every aspect of this evolution is not fully understood (thereby eliciting the word, “theory”); however, much of it has indeed, been established as solid fact. Those who spend a lifetime denying the noses on their intellectual faces just because fear requires them to are often much less spiritual than many atheists. Especially considering that many who don’t follow any religion really can become loving supporters of many compassionate causes.
Loving one’s fellow man does not exclude having beliefs and opinions of one’s own — nor does it require submission to any religious icon or denial of our common human dignity just because a holy book may require our strict obedience to its particular and narrow dogma.
Peter W. Johnson,