The Way It Is, Like It Or Not...
Even though I do consider myself to be a deist (in some form), I do find Penn Jillette’s take on religion very close to my own. Often he’ll lampoon the religious not for being religious, but for holding illogical or conflicting beliefs that a non religious person would look at and say “Are you joking? You can’t be an adult and believe that.”
Recently, on his Sunday School podcast, he talked about the idea of religion and a belief in God being a centering aspect of someone’s life. He explained that he’s always been told that without God in someone’s life, what would stop someone from raping and killing people at their own whim just for the hell of it? After all, if there are no consequences, who cares, right?
There are three answers to that question.
1. If you don’t believe in an afterlife or God, then you’re more likely to be kind and gentle during this life. After all, why take your chances serving out your one and only shot at existence in a jail cell for doing something stupid?
2. How much of a centering aspect has religion been in the lives of criminals now? Seeing as 85% of Americans believe in God in some form and of some denomination, has that stopped crime at any point? Has anyone who is a criminal and a believer been centered by a belief in God? And extrapolating that even further, what about war? Seeing as war is still happening, usually with countries participating whose populations largely do believe in God, does that mean that religion isn’t a centering aspect for them either?
3. Finally, and this is Penn’s answer, people like Penn have raped and killed everyone they want to, and by “everyone” they mean “no one.” The simple answer is that most people don’t want to rape and kill anyone, regardless of their religious affiliation.
The argument that religion and God are centering influences in people’s life sounds good, until you start asking yourself why we still have bad actions committed by believers in a country where 85% of the population believe. You would think that with a ratio that high, we’d live in utopia.
And it has nothing to do with belief in God or lack thereof.