The Advantages of Rationality|
We know, for example, that the ancient Egyptians believed in their gods so fervently that they built massive structures like the Great Pyramid -- still today one of the largest and most enduring human constructions ever created. Despite that fervor, however, we know with complete certainty today that the Egyptian gods were imaginary. We don't build pyramids anymore and we do not mummify our leaders. More recently we know that tens of millions of Romans worshiped Zeus and his friends, and to them they built magnificent temples. The ruins of these temples are popular tourist attractions even today. Yet we know with complete certainty that these gods were imaginary because no one worships Zeus any more. Much more recently, we know that the Aztec civilization believed in their gods so intensely that they constructed huge temples and pyramids. In addition, Aztecs were so zealous that they were sacrificing hundreds of human beings to their gods as recently as the 16th century. Despite the intensity, however, we know today that these gods were completely imaginary and the Aztecs were insane to be murdering people for their gods.
The fact is that today's God is just as imaginary as were the gods of the Egyptians, Romans and Aztecs. As you will find when you read the book, God does not answer prayers, God did not write or inspire the Bible, and God has not incarnated himself. In other words, God is imaginary.
Once we, as a society, recognize and understand that God is imaginary, we have achieved a significant breakthrough. We can replace religion with rational thought and gain many advantages in the process.
Here are six of the most important advantages that we gain:
Advantage #1 - we control the moral and ethical foundation of our society
Right now we base our legal system in America on a religious foundation inspired by a 2,000 year old book. Supreme court Justice Antonin Scalia is on record as saying, "Ninety-nine percent of Americans believe in the ten commandments." [ref] Scalia has also pointed out that the Ten Commandments are "a symbol of the fact that government derives its authority from God." [ref] Where do the Ten Commandments come from? The Bible.
The irrational thing about this behavior is that this same Bible also tells us that we should kill all homosexuals [lev. 20:13 ], beat our slaves [ex. 21:20] and stone our teenagers when they get out of line [deut. 21:18-21]. The Bible is full of irrational and immoral material.
By eliminating the Bible from public discourse, we eliminate this irrationality. The rational thing to do is to decide what we want the commandments to be and create them ourselves (see chapter 28 for details). The advantage is that the commandments will be better and stronger. We can also teach our moral/ethical system in public schools without running into "church and state" issues.
Advantage #2 - we can stop praying and start solving our problems
Right now, most people in America believe that God answers prayers. When we replace religion with rationality, we can see and understand the truth -- prayer is a waste of time. Instead of praying, we should do the rational thing and spend our time actually solving the problems ourselves. See chapter 11 and chapter 28 for details.
Advantage #3 - we understand the true nature of our mortality
As discussed in chapter 27, rationality allows us to see and understand our mortality. There is no "heaven" and we do not have "everlasting life" after we die. These notions are pure imagination. By understanding the true nature of our mortality, we make decisions that allow all human beings to live better lives here on earth. As a species, we would change our behavior if we understood our true position in the universe. See chapters 28 through 32 for details.
Advantage #4 - our society becomes significantly healthier as a whole
There is a growing evidence that religion causes significant social dysfunction. Statistical research is revealing a number of problems. For example, a recent article in the Journal of Religion and Society points out that religion is correlated to the significant social difficulties that we can see in America today:
Advantage #5 - we understand the true source of suffering
In a religious world, God is the source of suffering. If God truly is all-knowing, all-powerful and perfect, and if God truly does answer prayers, then any suffering must happen because God wants it to happen. If God did not want a tsunami to kill 200,000 people, then he would use his knowledge and omnipotence to stop it.
In a rational world, we understand that human beings are the primary cause of nearly all suffering. For example, many of the deaths in the tsunami could have been prevented with fairly simple warning systems. Much of the death and destruction in New Orleans during hurricane Katrina could have been prevented by building better levees. 10 million children will die this year of starvation and easily cured diseases [ref] and billions of people on this planet are living in abject poverty. Human beings are the cause of that suffering. By creating better social systems, we could eliminate hunger, starvation and poverty.
When we understand that we are the direct cause of suffering, and when we take direct responsibility for the suffering that we see, we also understand that we can eliminate it. We can, if we choose, create a world that is nearly free of suffering if we put our minds to it. This works at both a personal and a societal level.
Advantage #6 - everyone is on the same team
Religion divides us as a species and in many cases causes intense hatred. Over the last several decades we have seen Muslims killing Christians (and vice versa), Jews killing Muslims (and vice versa), Protestants killing Catholics (and vice versa), Shiites killing Sunnis (and vice versa), etc., etc. All of it is completely pointless, because all human gods are imaginary. By replacing religion with rationality, we understand that we are all on the same team and we can all pull together to achieve our goals as a species. See chapters 26 through 32 for details.
If you would like to learn more, these chapters will help you understand the many advantages of rationality:
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