We survived the millennium!
Commentary by Jim Walker
01 January 2002
Humanity survived all its Millenniums. Regardless if whether you believed the year 2000 or 2001 represented the millennial year, no worldwide horrendous natural disaster happened, the Apocalypse did not occur, the Rapture never came, Jesus did not return, and the world did not end. Not a single religious prediction came true. Of course some faithful will continue to believe the End will occur at any day, regardless of precise dates, but if anything should inform us about the fallacy of superstition, then two thousand years of false prophecy should give us a clue. How many more millennia will it take before the faithful begin to question their beliefs?
Not that a few superstitious people didn't try to help the destruction of the world, mind you. According to the World Tribune, "The last weeks of 1999 saw the largest US counter-terrorism operation in history." Attacks by terrorist cells in eight countries failed due to preventative measures by law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Even the Y2K Millennium bombing attempt of Los Angeles International Airport by Muslim extremists failed. Yes, even Islam has its Last Days beliefs.
- "With small means and great faith, we can defeat the mightiest military power of modern times."
- -Osama bin Laden
Unfortunately, one attack on America by fanatical believers had success. The September 11th attack by religious extremists killed around three thousand people. Fortunately this did not destroy the United States and it looks like our economy will survive. We know now that the attackers held a strong faith in a God and acted according to their beliefs.
Revealingly, all of the millennial attackers, including the Sept. 11 terrorists, al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden, and the Taliban had one thing in common to drive their vengeful acts: their faith in God. Think about it. If no one held a belief in God, those attacks could not have occurred. If one thing stands out as the most dangerous threat to national security, then it must come in the form of people who worship God with a little more zeal than other people. The Sept. 11 attacks should have taught us an obvious lesson about the dangers of faith in God, but unfortunately, just the opposite occurred for most gullible Americans.
Instead of chastising the attackers for their extreme faith in God, or for pointing out the dangers of faith, our President did just the opposite by appealing to America with his own brand of gun-loving Christian faith. George W. Bush acting like a self appointed priest of God spoke of a monumental struggle of good versus evil, crusades, cited Biblical scripture, and prayed. He broke the concept of separation of Church and State by establishing funding for faith-based organizations. Anyone who has read "Animal Farm" will recognize Bush's Orwellian method of transforming words like "religion" into "faith-based" to get around the Constitution. Instead of attacking the very source for which all these attempted and successful attacks occurred, he promoted faith to a new level never before seen in American politics. Faith, the very instrument which has created the most misery for humans throughout history and the root cause of the Sept. 11 attacks has just become more powerful. As a result, faith has made the world far more dangerous. For if an Apocalypse-like event does occur, it won't come from gods, devils, or godless atheists but rather from gullible human beings who force fit their beliefs to a self-fulfilled prophecy in accordance to their faith in God. Unfortunately both Osama bin Laden and George W. Bush have faith in god as a common denominator and both have spread its dangerous seeds. Osama helped spread faith in Islamic countries and George has helped spread faith in Christian countries. Both sides think of the other as Evil. Thank you Osama. Thank you George. Thank you very very much for turning the world into an Aristotelian two-valued superstitious war of black and white.
George Bush's appeal to Christianity and Islam as peaceful religions insults the history of violent religion. Faith relies on hope and ignorance. Faith by its very meaning rests on a belief that requires no evidence. And faith in a vengeful God or Allah (as described in the Bible and the Koran) virtually guarantees violent actions by some of its most faithful believers.
Not only did George W. Bush fail to warn us of the dangers of religious belief, but he resorted to the most outlandish belief possible when he included in his speeches the words, "and God continues to bless America." God Bless America? GOD BLESS AMERICA? Over 3000 Americans died on September 11th! The unemployment rate has risen to almost six percent. America has gone into a economic recession. Its treasury surplus has dwindled to nothing and many predict America will enter another vast deficit. Americans feel scared to death and have yet failed to "continue life as before." And what of the hundreds or thouands of innocent Afghan citizens who died for our cause due to U.S. bombings? Do their deaths count as a blessing too?
When thousands of people die, our economy suffers to such an extent, and we feel fear as never before, then in what imaginable sense could a blessing of America mean? The word blessing means: a special favor granted by God; anything promoting or contributing to happiness, well-being, or prosperity. If we should force a religious word to best describe the results of September 11th attacks, then I can't find a better term to use than the word curse ("Execration" describes it better in a secular term). And what resulted from all the praying, flag waving, singing God Bless America, and the War Against Terrorism? Has anyone come back from the dead? Has praying restored the economy? Have we really thwarted terrorism in the world or has the religious outpouring caused greater hate against America and increased the terrorism threat?
By all appearances, all the blessings and prayers have done nothing but console the pious mind into a feeling of a religious and false safety. Addictive narcotics could not have better insolated them from reality and critical thinking as had faith based on God.
- "There was a time when religion ruled the world. It is known as The Dark Ages."
- -Ruth Hurmence Green
We have survived the Millennium but we may have in store for us a Dark Ages II if we let superstitious people run our world. Unfortunately America's political bent has moved toward a more religious direction. Thanks to the fanatical terrorists and our faithful president, we have in effect become a little more like the Taliban. History has shown us that governments controlled by religion have always promoted intolerance, wars, ignorance, and misery. America has its religious fanatical religious extremists too, but there occur reasons why our brand of extremists have exhibited less violence and intolerance than extremists who live in religiously controlled countries. Our forefathers knew about the dangers of religion based governments and purposely formed our Constitution as completely secular and included certain checks and balances. With freedom-of-speech and the separation-of-church-and-state as primary concepts we have enjoyed the power to criticize and to speak out against religious bigotry and the threats they impose. Religion has strong protection in America, but government run by religion guarantees intolerance of other religions. If we abandon our Constitutional rights to the faithful, then we will have no alternative but to succumb to the dangers of those who have faith in God.
Sadly, even though our government started as secular, there has occurred religious political grass-root movements that have successfully put politicians, who have a strong faith in God, into local, state, and federal power. Many of these religious politicians want to erode the freedom of speech and church-state separations. It has now become virtually impossible for an admitted nonbeliever to hold office in any congressional or presidential position.
The following fact should disturb you if you live as a disbeliever: even though approximately 13% of Americans have no belief in God, and whether you call yourself non-religious, humanist, atheist, agnostic, freethinker, or secular, there exists no representation in government for those who reject religion. Note that women, gays, blacks, Indians, etc., all have representation in U.S. government, but not one federal statesman represents the disbelievers.
So lets feel fortunate that we survived the dangers of faith (so far) but I appeal to those who have an inkling of rational thought to question those who appeal to faith in God by writing your congressmen, newspapers, posting messages on the internet, or simply discussing it with your friends. What better New Year's resolution than to make it a point to express your disbelief and to question faith as a viable means to knowledge and peace. Even if you believe in a god, surely you understand that extreme faith in God by people of other religions can present a danger even if you don't see it in your faith-based-institution. No?
Have a Happy New Year as our earth (and America) continues to orbit the sun.
An E-prime document