As an atheist, I understand the importance of ridding the world of religion. I also understand the non-theistic world's view on religion and why it is poisonous (Christopher Hitchens' god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything). But as a former theist (or perhaps I was a make-believe theist.... there will be more on this topic in an up-and-coming post), I also understand the comfort that religion can provide. The simple things, such as "having your place in the universe" as well as the large things like having your place in society.
Joseph Campbell argued in The Power of Myth how having these mythologies as a society helped to show our place in that society. Myths helped to show that we are a part of the larger whole. While the importance of feeling as though you are a part of the larger whole can be debated, in the end, having your place and knowing your part make for living life much easier.
However, Campbell also goes on to say that today's society has lost its myth. America has no mythology of its own anymore, no rituals in which it can partake. And without these rituals, we develop into terrible people who cut off our hair so that a drug test is impossible.
So, it comes down to it, is Campbell correct? Do we as a society need a mythology, even if it is a complete metaphor and is understood completely as a metaphor, or can we live in a world that has no rituals, where even the judges have lost their robes and the president is only a (wo)man?
If we atheists get what many of us want (for religion either to completely be destroyed or be completely secular-ized), will our society still have moral standards? Will it have the same level of moral standards? Will it have less? Will it have more?
I suppose that my opinion of the matter is that we are inherently good, until corrupted and indoctrinated by terrible organizations (like churches), and since we are inherently good, we will attain more a greater moral basis when we lose these organizations with an unhealthy obsession with how many times we say our prayers each day, with what we do in the bedroom (or where ever else you like to have sex), with how many times a woman must be beaten with a stick before she is considered clean enough to ask to be cleansed by a priest (with a mustache and testicles), and with saving every single soul, whether that soul will be a rapist or a saint. (I use the term saint just to mean somebody who is extremely moral, Thomas Jefferson, though undoubtedly a deist (and probably an atheist), is a saint.) I feel that once these unhealthy obsessions are removed from society, many terrible perversions will also be removed. Even if it takes a few generations.
Please leave comments of your own opinion. If you wish for me to talk about something in a future post, please be sure to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the words "Tolerance and Peace" in the subject line, so that it is not kicked back by my SPAM filter. Thank you.