I suppose, in the words of Stephen Fry, it’s time I nailed my colours to the mast. I am a card-carrying member of the British Humanist Association (BHA), and I am at a point in my life where I have totally rejected religion. Probably no surprise to anyone (anyone?) who’s read through this online collection of musings. But I never came out and really said it before. Altho I have said that religion is one of the most dangerous evils we face today.

And by that, I mean that religion is a force that has always divided people, and been the cause of a great deal of suffering and death. The rising up of different sects, on through the Crusades, the Reformation, the Troubles in Northern Ireland, 9/11, 7/7 and so on. We have killed the Jews, killed the Christians, killed the infidels, the non-believers, the unfaithful, etc., and so on, and so on. Children in many religious schools throughout the world today are taught to hate people who do not believe the same things they are taught; science and evolution are “wrong”, and outmoded religious texts are all they need.

At one time, religion was important; when human understanding of the world was insufficient to explain the workings of nature, religion offered a framework that people of those eras could fathom. Today we use fairy tales to explain concepts like sharing, manners, and basic scientific concepts. However, civilization has grown up in the past few thousand years, and we should no longer rely on fairy tales to explain to adults how the world works. Our technology is sophisticated enough to delve deeply into natural phenomena, and dispense with a god who hides behind supernatural magic and demands constant devotion.

Let’s briefly mention god here. I consider myself more agnostic than atheist. I feel that it comes down to one of two possibilities – either nothing, or something beyond what most people consider god. If nothing, then you die, and that’s it. Your consciousness is gone forever. Brutal, but possibly true. In which case the whole idea of religion is a useless waste of precious time.

If there is a god, then it is totally unlike the standard idea of god, i.e. an old man in the sky. A real god would be the total sum of all things in existence; galaxies to subatomic particles, including you and me. We would all be part of god, no more or less divine than any savior or prophet. Experiences after physical death would be more, much more than just going to Heaven or Valhalla or even Nirvana. The Bible, Koran or Bhagvhad-Gita could no more explain it than you could explain the Star Wars saga on a grain of rice.

So whichever way it is, religion is a remnant of our collective childhood that we cannot bear to dispense with. But now it no longer helps us deal with existence, it hinders our ability to comprehend the true nature of reality. The Universe is a fascinating place, and each of us truly precious and unique. Religion suffocates us, and blinds us to the real wonders of the Cosmos. We do not need the illusion of god to shield us from what’s out there, or divide us from each other in our lonely journey on this planet.

The ‘true believers’ always condemn such talk, and try to find fault with ‘proof’ of solid theories, like evolution. “Where’s the proof we evolved from apes?” is one popular cry. “How can you prove the Earth is as old as you say? is another. It becomes a pointless exercise, since people like this will not admit the proof when it stares them in the face. I was involved in a discussion like this once with a very religious co-worker. “What’s the proof?” he would ask.

“What about the fossils?”, I replied.

“What fossils?”

It’s very clear that we have a good overall record of how humans evolved. There may be quibbles over the details, but the proof is in the fossil record. For other animals, such as horses, the fossils are nearly complete and tell the story very well. But if you don’t believe in the proof when it’s shown to you, what will it take? My co-worker had no knowledge whatsoever about the details of the obvious evolution of Homo left behind in the rocks. If you don’t know how your supermarket shelves are restocked each night, you might as well believe elves do it.

And there’s certainly more proof for things like evolution than a garden of Eden. It strikes me as odd that people who are willing to believe superstition on faith will always demand ‘proof’ of any evidence to the contrary.

They will also try to point out that our moral codes, the rules that govern our societies, were fashioned by god and given to us so that we might lead ‘good’ lives. Anyone who rejects this is ‘bad’, ‘immoral’ or ‘anarchic’. This is of course, utter nonsense. Morality was devised by human beings, not a supreme being. I don’t need god to live a moral life. I’m not worried about divine retribution.

It may be asking too much that people who are raised not to think for themselves suddenly have a blinding flash of insight and reject the beliefs of their family and immediate society. But it does happen, nearly every day. Will religion ever really go away? I don’t know. At various points in the past, concepts like slavery, the oppression of women, the ridicule of homosexuals were all firmly entrenched. While they all still exist today, their standings are decidedly less sure, if not outright wobbly. It is my hope as a Humanist that one day the notion of religion is discarded as an outmoded archaic way of thinking. One that’s no longer relevant in the modern world. Standing up to religion, seeing it for the pack of lies it really is, and raising our children to be good members of society without all the mumbo-jumbo is of the utmost urgency.