As a Secular Humanist, I don’t believe in Gods, Satan, heaven, hell, condemnation, salvation, souls, sin, karma, reincarnation, life after death, supernatural beings, inerrant scriptures, miracles, magical thinking or messages from Gods. The virtues of religious people are also found in non-religious people and non-religious organizations. Throughout history, religious beliefs have resulted in polarization and patriarchy. Comedian Jon Stewart summarizes the problem succinctly, “Religions provide hope in a world torn apart by religions.” Conflicting beliefs in superior Gods and inerrant scriptures ultimately result in divisive worldviews.
In the big picture, there is probably no grandiose, religiously-constructed purpose for human life with a Santa-like God listing your good and bad behaviors –– footnoted with the threat of eternal suffering. Is an all-loving, all-powerful God likely to inflict eternal suffering? Beliefs like this, besides being spectacularly irrational and implausible, may strongly influence life’s meaning and purpose. How often are religious beliefs motivated by fear?
Are religious people influenced by the role modeling of an all-loving God who, according to scriptures, is vengeful, violent, jealous, intolerant, immoral, intimidating, bloodthirsty, mean-spirited, and supportive of slavery, patriarchy, human sacrifice and genocide? Religions wildly speculate about the will of God with dogmatic claims about man’s dominion over nature, women and reproductive decisions. Humanists and other atheists of conscience find deep meaning and purpose in the natural world’s growth opportunities and evidence-based scientific objectivity –– free of the supernatural world’s anti-factual blind faith. Republican leadership’s chronic lack of honesty, evidence, integrity and empathy places narcissistic personal and party interests above loyalty to country and oath of office.
What is the purpose of religions? In international Pew surveys, non-religious people rate higher than religious people in education, health, literacy, longevity, income and gender equality. Non-religious people also had lower divorce rates, crime, imprisonment and violence. Beliefs don’t magically enshrine you as a virtuous person, behavior does. Historically, religions thrived not by the quality of truth, but by the quantity of violence. Is religious bigotry, narcissistic blind faith, preying on naivety and pseudo-patriotism able to pass the smell test?
Are humans God’s chosen species? The universe has evolved for 13.7 billion years –– humans evolved in only 6 million years. Astrophysicist Brian Green explains why our galaxy is much smaller and probably less inhabitable than billions of galaxies. Humans are probably among the least evolved species.
This life may be the one and only opportunity to self-actualize personal potential and support the self-actualization of others –– to experience deeper meaning and purpose with life-enhancing commitments to others and a heightened sense of responsibility for the collective good, the environment and future generations.
I am highly motivated to maximize each precious moment. This life isn’t a dress rehearsal. Without rebirth, every present moment becomes more appreciated, more meaningful and rarely ever taken for granted. Does belief in rebirth influence the urgency for moral behavior? Does belief in supernatural interventions influence personal responsibility? Does belief in past karma influence your reaction to social inequalities? Is learning from mistakes likely when the karmic relationships between cause and effects are unknown?
Life is full of meaning and purpose without assigning responsibility for life events to supernatural sources. Most Humanists and other atheists have thoroughly read the Bible, Quran and other religious fabrications. The low moral standards in ancient religious scriptures included an over-abundance of primitive violence, immorality, superstition, intimidation, fear and gullibility. If life’s meaning and purpose are to be deciphered from ancient scriptures, religious credibility might benefit from devoting more attention to compassion and love and less to fear and proselytizing.