The Answers to Life’s Questions
Many an atheist have pondered the impact of religion upon the world and how one views it. For many atheists, the universe is a complex, yet understandable place. From physics to biology, chemistry to geology, all research demonstrates clear laws and patterns which are continuously followed. For an atheist with an enthusiasm for science, questions about our realm can be answered with enough research.
The religious also claim to have answered these questions. From the first cave dweller who looked to the sky filled with lightning and decided to appease an angry god to the Christian who now kneels before a golden statue in humble prayer, religion has been a powerful tool with which to understand the world. In religion, there is no question which cannot be answered. In a world controlled by a deity, there is never a reason to question the purpose of something.
To the religious, the world is simple. They go about their lives, content with knowing their days have been planned out, and nothing they do will change that plan. They trust their deity to provide for them and shelter them, and know a mysterious benefactor always has an answer for the wrongs of the world.
Religion and Innocence
A simple comparison to make is to view the religious as children. Not because they are unintelligent, but because they harbor an innocence the atheist has since lost. To the religious, the world is as it should be. Everything is going according to plan, and much like the child who trusts a parent, the religious trust their deity. When asking questions, the religious are satisfied with simple answers. When a child questions where he came from, some parents plainly say, "From your mommy." This answer is simple, and for a child who knows nor cares nothing for ovum, sperm, embryos, and pregnancy, this answer is sufficient. For the religious, a simple answer of "We came from God" is sufficient.
The atheist is stuck in an age of curiosity, a time of endless questions in which no answer is sufficient. Parents refer to this as the "Why" stage. The curious atheist will always ask, "Why?", and never be content with a simple answer. For the atheist, there is always room for improvement, and many nonbelievers are burdened with a sense of responsibility to provide the means for this improvement. While the religious pray and the children play, the atheists and adults are at work ensuring the life humanity has come to know will only get better. This is not to say the religious never get off their knees to assist in the work of improving our planet and the quality of life around the globe. If he does, however, the religious man will have his security blanket with him: the knowledge that should anything go wrong, it could not have been prevented as it was the will of the great Creator.
The religious also seem innocent and unknowing of another aspect of our world, the unfortunate truth of global suffering. While believers in a developed country thank their deity for providing a raise at work, finding their lost car keys, or their lost pet returning home, the citizens of developing countries and the forgotten poor of developed countries rot in the slums of starvation. Much like a child is not exposed to unpleasant facts until they are of age to understand them, the religious seem blind to the fact that their deity has not truly blessed everyone. Is this arrogance? Do the religious truly believe that god allowed their sports team to win the big game and ignored the woman who now lays her shriveled toddler in an unmarked grave?
The simple answer would be that the religious are neither innocent or arrogant. They simply cannot bring themselves to fathom a world without a deity. The hand of god is everywhere, the voices of angels ring in their dreams and prayers. It is so real, it is simply unquestionable to think we might be alone. So for the religious man who is questioned on why he was blessed and someone else wasn't, the answer will be a write off. "God works in mysterious ways." "It is the will of Allah." "It is all a part of the Plan."
If the religious allows himself to ponder this question, if he starts to ask for more detailed answers, he would be questioning the Almighty himself. The religious are forced to be content with simple answers and a lack of explanation for the task of keeping their world within a scope of understanding. Those indoctrinated into a religion at a young age have been taught to believe, not to question, and to just accept. If anything challenges their version of reality, it is simply cast into the dark recesses of the subconscious. It is easy to ignore a photo of a child being stalked by a vulture when a religious leader is muttering pretty reassurances into your ear. While it cannot be said that the religious are unaware of suffering, they often leave it to a god to sort out, as it is not their place to ask questions.
Thus, the religious walk a fine line between innocence (or ignorance) and reality. While the nonbelievers move ever further away from the concept of a deity and ignorance, the religious will do but one thing when tempted with a frightening reality: kneel.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia