Having Kids and Having Religion

Most people associate pronatalism with religionism. Either because of its ‘go forth and multiply’ view, its ‘sanctity of life’ view, or its ‘we have to outnumber them’ view. I agree there’s a relationship, even a causal one. But it’s not that religion ’causes’ pronatalism; rather, some other thing causes both religionism and pronatalism.

What is this other thing? An inability to find fulfilment in the here and now. The sci-fi stories featuring a ‘last’ generation always seem to show some sort of widespread malaise, even despair. What, no kids? Many, not content to die in a few years, decide to kill themselves immediately. If I didn’t know better, I’d call it an existential crisis. One not handled very well. (‘I’m too unimaginative or too lazy, or both, to have made my life worthwhile. I know! I’ll have kids—they’ll make my life worthwhile!) (And then in a really clever leap of logic, they even blame the kids for their existential black hole—’How can I be out following some dream when I gotta put food on the table for you kids?’)

The same people insist on believing there’s a heaven no matter how many photographs of ‘up there’ they’re shown. (Never mind the extensive non-visual physical evidence against the possibility.)

In short, those of us who have purpose and value in our own lives have no need of kids—or heaven. Those of us who don’t, pass the buck.

I Don’t Have a Conscience

I’ve always been uncomfortable with the term “conscientious objector” – especially as it is used, to identify those entitled for exclusion from military service (whether in body or in wallet) on the basis of moral principles. I object to military service, on that basis, but I don’t have a conscience.

Phrases such as “Follow your conscience” and “Do what your conscience tells you” suggest that one’s conscience is a fixed sort of thing, an unchanging absolute. Indeed, it often sounds like one’s conscience is innate, something we’re born with. And something quite separate from us, a sort of homonculus, or at least an ‘inner voice’ (the voice of God?). Chomsky may have proven that there are innate structures of language in the human brain, but to date, to my knowledge, no one has proven there are, in the human brain, innate moral principles. Nor, despite a dictionary definition of conscience as “the moral sense of right and wrong”, has such a sixth (?) sense been established.

On the contrary, our ‘conscience’ is acquired: Read the rest of this entry »

Religion: Superstition and Habit

I find it amazing that so many people still believe in God.  I can only conclude that, in most cases, they just haven’t thought about it.  Because thinking about religion is the surest way to atheism.  (Which is probably why so many religions discourage thought: be like a child–whose intellectual faculties are quite insufficient for the task; trust in me, listen to me, I speak for God–you don’t need to worry your little head about it.)

There are several classic arguments for the existence of God.  But as Bertrand Russell (Why I am Not a Christian), B.C.Johnson (The Atheist Debater’s Handbook), George H. Smith (Atheism: The Case Against God), and so many others have pointed out, their flaws have been, in the last few centuries, uncovered.

Consider the first cause argument: Read the rest of this entry »