Ironically, of all the big revelations I’ve made to people about who I am and what I believe, my atheism is the one thing which strikes people as dangerous and detrimental. And I know it’s not unusual. I know I’m not alone in that. Atheism scares people. The roots of religion in the modern world run extremely deep.
It’s as if modern humanity is only now rediscovering that it’s possible to live without believing in a god.
In some ways, ironic as it is, it’s not surprising at all. The predominant understanding of the history of mankind is that as soon as we properly existed as humans, we worshiped something. The fact that research doesn’t back up the teachings of early missionary anthropologists doesn’t make its way into popular culture, so we’ve been fed a story of natural human spirituality and religion for centuries.
And if we believe that we’ve always worshiped a higher power, that this belief in a god is natural and ancient and simply a fact of our existence, it’s in some ways not hard to see how a dramatic break from that can be seen as a threat. We threaten the presumed natural order of things. Our existence challenges the very beliefs which underpin cultures worldwide. If humans have always believed in a higher power, then what are we?
To be fair, atheists really do threaten the status quo. The simple fact that many people question whether atheists have a sense of morality paints a stark picture of how deeply ingrained the idea that religion is natural to human existence really is. We stand in counterpoint to ideas which have been used to create and shape and enforce societal standards for centuries, for good or bad. So in that sense, I suppose we can be pretty scary.
Still, it’s pretty ironic that, held up against all the atrocities committed throughout history in the name of religion, the mere lack of belief in a deity would strike so many as so dangerous.
Has anyone ever told you that your beliefs were dangerous?