Sunday, November 16, 2014

Why Are Atheists So Obsessed with God?

Hemant Mehta: I get this question a lot: Because I'm an atheist who tackles religious issues on YouTube, on my site, etc., it's a common refrain from Christians to say something like, "What do atheists care so much about a God they don't even believe in?"

It's simple: I don't really care about God. But I care about the effect God has on other people. God influences politicians. God influences voters. God makes people believe things that aren't true. God can make good people do bad things. God ruins the lives of a lot of gay people and women. God makes some of my relatives really, really annoying.

So when I say I care about God, I'm really talking about the consequences that belief has.

I care about God because it helps me understand why people act the way they do. Why would anyone oppose marriage equality? Or make it tougher for women to get the health care they need? Or, I should add, why would some people be willing to go to dangerous countries to help people they've never met? Religion motivates people, for good and bad, and if you want to understand what makes a lot of people tick, you have to understand their belief system.

I care about God because I believed in one for a long time and I don't want others to make the same mistake I did. Religion ruins lives. Not everyone's, but enough that we should all be concerned. If I can do anything to help people break free from their faith, I feel like I've provided a useful service.

I care about God because I support civil rights and social justice and science education and God always manages to get in the way of those things.

I care about God because I've seen what happens when child are taught to obey instead of to think for themselves. Their intellectual growth is stunted. I want kids to question what they're taught and question authority when it's appropriate. I want to live in a society where people are able to do whatever makes them happy without hurting anyone else and without worrying about what an invisible being might think about it.

I care about God for the same reason I care about Kim Kardashian. I wish I didn't have to... but if everyone around me is talking about them, I feel like I should at least be aware of what they're discussing.

I care about God because I care about figuring out the truth. Just like religious people do, I should say. And it bothers me that so many people believe in things that aren't based in reality.

Hemant Mehta, 2014

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