We are atheists. We are moral. We are reasonable. We are thoughtful, intelligent, compassionate, happy, fulfilled and well-informed.
And as long as religion insists on fixing human beings who are not broken, we will respond with the evidence that we are not the problem.
Seth Andrews, The Thinking Atheist, “Why Can’t You Leave Religion Alone?”
Intelligent, reasonable, and well-informed people can be wrong. They can be profoundly wrong. They can be stubbornly wrong. They can be deeply attached to wrong ideas, with contorted and absurd rationalizations for their wrongness. They can be wrong about big, important things. In fact, I would argue that this is universally true: every intelligent, reasonable, and well-informed person is bone-headedly wrong about something. Being an intelligent, reasonable, and well-informed person doesn’t mean every opinion or idea or belief you have is intelligent, reasonable, and well-informed. You can be an intelligent, reasonable, and well-informed person, and still have dumb, unreasonable, ill-informed ideas.
And yes, I think Christianity is one of these. I think all religion is one of these.
Greta Christina, “From the Mailbag: ‘Reasonable, intelligent, and well-informed’”
A. C. Grayling, “Dogma will always lead to murder. In the end, scepticism is the only answer”, The Independent, Friday 24 May 2013
To the query, “Do most astronomers believe in God, based on the available evidence?” the astronomer Dave Rothstein replies that, in his opinion, “modern science leaves plenty of room for the existence of God … places where people who do believe in God can fit their beliefs in the scientific framework without creating any contradictions.” [ … ]
How much less velveteen is the response to the reader asking whether astronomers believe in astrology. “No, astronomers do not believe in astrology,” snarls Dave Kornreich. “It is considered to be a ludicrous scam. There is no evidence that it works, and plenty of evidence to the contrary.”
The kinds of questions I think about — origin of the universe, fundamental laws of physics, that kind of thing — for the most part have no direct impact on how ordinary people live their lives. No jet packs are forthcoming, as the saying goes. But there is one exception to this, so obvious that it goes unnoticed: belief in God. Due to the efforts of many smart people over the course of many years, scholars who are experts in the fundamental nature of reality have by a wide majority concluded that God does not exist. We have better explanations for how things work. The shift in perspective from theism to atheism is arguably the single most important bit of progress in fundamental ontology over the last five hundred years. And it matters to people … a lot.
Or at least, it would matter, if we made it more widely known. It’s the one piece of scientific/philosophical knowledge that could really change people’s lives. So in my view, we have a responsibility to get the word out — to not be wishy-washy on the question of religion as a way of knowing, but to be clear and direct and loud about how reality really works. And when we blur the lines between science and religion, or seem to contribute to their blurring or even just not minding very much when other people blur them, we do the world a grave disservice. Religious belief exerts a significant influence over how the world is currently run — not just through extremists, but through the well-meaning liberal believers who very naturally think of religion as a source of wisdom and moral guidance, and who define the middle ground for sociopolitical discourse in our society. Understanding the fundamental nature of reality is a necessary starting point for productive conversations about morality, justice, and meaning. If we think we know something about that fundamental nature — something that disagrees profoundly with the conventional wisdom — we need to share it as widely and unambiguously as possible.