Sunday, April 28, 2013

An open letter to all Atheists everywhere

Dear Atheists,

Can we all please stop pretending that religion makes no sense at all?

I get that you don't believe in it. That's cool. I don't believe in God either, and I'm working my way down the whole religion thing.

But I understand why it appeals to people, and I get the internal logic.

See, all you have to do is assume that God exists, and that [insert faith tradition] is instructions from Him, and there you go: it all makes sense.

Is the base assumption logical? No. There's absolutely no evidence to support that hypothesis. But if you want to understand the actions of the religious, that's all you have to do. And you're smart, right? That's why you don't believe things without evidence. So you can do a simple logic exercise.

What triggered this rant? (I hear you cry.) Well, the other day, Richard Dawkins tweeted:

  1. Sharia law "is legal to them". Oh great. So I'll go out and break English law and plead that I was obeying "Dawkins Law". What rubbish.
  2. Oppressed & abused women believe the falsehood that Sharia "law" is law. Who is telling them the lie? "Scholars"?
  3. British women beg old fools called "scholars" to grant divorce from marriage that was never legal in the first place.
  4. BBC investigates Sharia in UK: But why so keen for Sharia divorce, when Sharia marriage not legal in first place?

From this we are meant to infer that Dr. Dawkins is baffled by the behavior of Muslim women. There is absolutely no logic to what they are doing. After all, their marriages are dissolved under British law, and that should be enough for them.

Well, it isn't. They might want to get married again someday, and under Sharia law, if they don't get a Sharia divorce, they can't get another religious marriage. And if your whole community thinks that's important, it's pretty damned hard to say, "Well, science says it doesn't matter," and walk away.

Let me explain this in terms you can understand. Humans are pack animals. While some humans have been known to leave their pack of origin and to join a new pack, this is rare. Most humans will sacrifice greatly to remain in the pack. Those humans who are rejected by a pack tend to exhibit signs of great anguish, which can lead to depression, desperate attempts to be accepted by the pack, or even destructive behavior. Most humans will follow the rules of their packs even when this defies logic and often even when their own self-interest is compromised in other ways, reducing their individual social power or even depriving themselves of necessities.

So while the evidence may show us that these women will not suffer in hell if they do not get their Sharia divorces, these women believe that they will, and therefore they operate under that assumption. It's not scientific, but it is logical. Even if individual women don't believe in God, they may seek a Sharia divorce so that they can be accepted by their communities, because the thought of leaving the community forever is too painful.

Religion satisfies many human needs, and it polices many societies. We may wish it would go away. We may even work to end its influence. But let's not pretend we don't even know what's going on.


The Jewmanista

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