This blog intends to provide some balance in the religious debate by providing a counterpoint to Billy Graham's religious advice. On his website http://www.billygraham.org/ he responds to readers' questions by quoting from the bible. I am attempting to respond to those same queries by resorting to reason and rationality.

I must acknowledge a debt here to Jeff Hope who started in this vein but who has unfortunately taken a hiatus. His blog is http://atheistsanswer.wordpress.com/. Jeff has inspired me to continue.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Outdated Beliefs

QUESTION: Today's comes from DR...
"Over the centuries, we've changed our ideas about every other area of knowledge, so why shouldn't we change our ideas about God? Why should I believe in a religion that's almost 2,000 years old?".

If you examine the history of spiritual thought you will see that there has been constant, albeit slow change. Over the centuries belief systems have come and gone. They have often been dominant for hundreds if not thousands of years, but inevitably they die out and are replaced. Religions always postulate some explanation for natural phenomena, but the totality of human knowledge is increasing all the time obviating the need for any religious explanation. We no longer worship the sun as the ancient Egyptians did because we understand it, and we don't worship Posiedon the god of the oceans because we now understand the waves and tides etc. We no longer think that the way to stop a volcano erupting is to throw in a virgin. Similarly the current crop of religions will die out. Unfortunately history tells us that they will be replaced by another raft of religions, and unfortunately the cycle will inevitably repeat. The human being seems to have an inbuilt need (or want) for there to be some sort of overarching spiritual guidance. I don't have the gene for this but the majority of the world's population seem to have it. The best we can hope for is to make people realise that we have a choice - that we don't have to follow the beliefs of our family or community. The more people think about these matters, the more likely that irrational beliefs will die out.
In a way you could see belief systems as being in some sort of Darwinian struggle for survival. They compete with each other for territory and do their best to propagate themselves. Followers are constantly being recruited and barriers are put in the way of apostates. The weak religions die out and the strong last for centuries. Classic survival of the fittest!


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