“A Catholic high school classmate of mine posted this: ‘The only way to find happiness in the grind of life is by faith. A faith-filled life means all the difference in how we view everything around us. It affects our attitudes towards people, toward circumstances, toward ourselves. Only then do our feet become swift to do what is right.’ How would you counter this?”
My reply follows:
It’s unfortunate that some people are so shallow, their lives so unfulfilling, their grasp on reality so loose, and their willingness to surrender their personal responsibility for morality and ethics to an imaginary being is so strong; and that is precisely what that childlike testimony of your friend expresses. That he disparages life as a “grind” as opposed to a marvelous and wonderful experience to be savored and enjoyed to its fullest all by itself, is the mindset of so many Christians whose pained existence and/or perspective on life as just god’s waiting room causes them to seek escape into the fantasy realm of religion.
Did Mother Teresa’s faith influence her “attitude toward people?” Indeed it did. And it caused her to glorify the pain of her patients as “god’s gift, a blessing.” As a result her order withheld pain medication that would have eased the misery of her patients in their final weeks, days and hours. This in spite of the millions of dollars her order amassed. Somehow I don’t see that as a good attitude towards people, or doing what is right by any measure of reasoned thinking. Your friend will likely rationalize that to have been a wonderful thing, for such is the affect of faith on the mind.
A “Faith-Filled Life” effects how religionists view everything. Some faithful view the unnecessary death of a child caused by parents withholding medication in favor of prayer as “God’s Will.” Others view competing religions as from the devil and provoke hatred and inspire terror by mindless acts of book burning for Jesus. Others encourage the spread of AIDS among third world peoples by rejecting the effectiveness of condoms and the reality of the human sex drive. Still more reject scientific evidence and proofs of the natural world- passing along the foolishness and intellectually crippling their children – because it contradicts an ancient myth written by Bronze Age misogynists.
Faith causes some people to fly airplanes into buildings; blow up clinics; discriminate against their fellow human beings for their sexual preference; mutilate genitals; kill apostates; justify sexism; disparage all other beliefs or lack there of because THEIR faith is the “true” faith and the only way to properly live and die.
Yes, it takes the expectation of a supernatural reward for them to be moved to “do what is right.” That or their “doing what’s right” is motivated by the proselytizing agenda of their imagined man-god or church shaman. Their sense of right is not out of pure empathy, compassion and humanity. To them it can’t exist without make-believe. The fact that empathy exists in all humans, save sociopaths, is lost on them. No, only when their minds are willingly vacated of all personal responsibility and the void filled by make believe do their “feet become swift” to do the right thing. That is what they call happiness, and doing what’s right; it’s what I call zombie like denial of reality and crediting natural human emotion to the supernatural.
We the thinking can do what’s right, and we do. We can enjoy life to its fullest and experience happiness, and we do. And we do it without the fallacy of life after death rewards, the mind-numbing drug of religious delusion, or attributing our charity, happiness and personal success to a boogie man.
But all this will be lost on the religiously deluded, your friend included. The ignorance of faith is indeed bliss to them. They cannot see beyond what they have been programmed to see … and that never included questioning their belief, or challenging their tiresome platitudes.
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Editor’s note: Although Bart Centre is not a Filipino, he is an active member of the Filipino Freethinkers Forum, and he was kind enough to share an article with us. He is a lifelong activist in the culture war between theist demagoguery and freethinkers, and frequent outspoken contributor and guest columnist to various newspapers and periodicals. He is the co-creator of the celebrated post rapture pet rescue website Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, USA. A New York native, he now lives in New Hampshire with his saintly and much-put-upon Episcopal wife of thirty-nine years and two atheist dogs. You can check his other posts here: