I often search the internet for blogs that I may find of interest regarding Christianity and atheism, and I have recently been bothered by the naivety of some of my fellow atheists. I feel that regardless of your reasons for the hope of the end of religion; that this hope is the equivalent of the theists hope that Jesus will return "soon." I think that the desire for the destruction of religious beliefs and institutions are nothing more than a pipe dream.
When it comes to religious beliefs ignorance is bliss. Most people that accept a belief system such as Christianity on faith don't take the time to do any research before they give their life to Christ. They don't normally read up on the history of the church from a secular text book or some other unbiased source. Once they become members of a congregation and accept its beliefs they are then taught about their belief systems through biased materials provided by the purveyors of that particular system. It's sort of like buying an expensive used car without having it inspected by a qualified mechanic and taking the sellers word for it that you are not buying a lemon but a car that runs like new.
It is this quality of blind trust that in my opinion gives religion the edge over atheism or other competing systems of belief. I call this blind trust faith, and I call faith the ultimate equalizer. Faith does not ask questions, faith does not delve into thought exercises about what you have chosen to believe, faith does not require any evidence to substantiate it at all. All that is needed for faith to be successful is your willingness to believe that what you are being taught is the truth. Indoctrination combined with subjective so called "spiritual" encounters with the divine is sufficient to convince the believer that he/she is on the right track.
But you have to sincerely ask yourself believer; that if subjective experiences are all that is needed to substantiate your faith, then what could be said about all those other competing religions that claim to have similar experiences? Stating that they are being duped by Satan and his cohorts, or that they are misled through false doctrinal beliefs does not suffice to dismiss their claims as real as the ones you claim to experience.
In the book of Hebrews 11:1 faith is defined as: "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." I am using the NIV for this definition because I feel that it is contains the clearest language and the easiest to understand. Christians are sure that the bible narrative is true, that Jesus rose from the dead, that their sins are forgiven, and that some day they will be granted a place along with the righteous in the presence of their Lord. But what gives them this assurance is not based on any evidence since in my opinion no valid evidence could be had. But rather it is based on their acceptance of what they are being taught and have read in the scriptures.
Jesus allegedly confirmed the virtues of faith when he admonished Thomas in John 20:29 by stating: "Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." Christianity thrives on hearsay and not evidence. Believers accept what the so called "inspired" authors of the bible tell them. It is this quality that gives this religion its assurance of stability no matter what evidence is presented to the contrary.
I've said it before and I'll say it again that as long as there are gullible people, there will always be believers. For instance; a careful reading of certain passages in the N.T. will demonstrate that Jesus himself promised that his return would occur during the lifetime of the apostles. He was what is referred to as an apocalyptic prophet. He even told his disciples to go around preaching that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. He sent them amongst the Jews and gave them specific instructions on what to say and what to do when their message was not accepted.
After commissioning them to preach the coming of the kingdom and telling them to only preach to the lost sheep of Israel and not to the gentiles he tells them that: "When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the
truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the
Son of Man comes." Matt. 10:23 and later in the same book of Matthew he informed them that: "I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." Matt. 16:28. As we all know this prophecy did not come to pass and despite this damning evidence against the truth of the message of Christ we still have Christianity thriving two thousand plus years later.
If you knew of this information have you ever wondered why? It's because Christianity is a belief system that thrives on faith. A little tweak to the word here and there and it's all better. Here is an example of what I mean. Although it is quite obvious from the texts that I have shown that Jesus promised to return in the lifetime of his disciples, and in one other verse he even says it will be during their generation, theists have reinterpreted the texts to smooth over the failed prophecy.
In Matthew 24:36 and other similar passages Christianity is given an indefinite extension on life by simply stating: "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." This is the mantra of all modern day believers regardless of the evidence against their faith. Or even worse, they come up with all types of insane reinterpretations of what Jesus really meant when he said he would be back during the lifetimes of the disciples.
Where I reside I find that religion also thrives amongst the poor and also the so called minority races in this country. There is literally up to two or three churches per block where I live at of every conceivable sect of Christianity you could think of. Latinos and Afro-Americans can't seem to get enough of Jesus and it seems to me that the various cultures derived from these two are highly superstitious as well as gullible. I am of Puerto Rican descent and the only atheist in my entire family that I am aware of. But regardless of what my family knows or doesn't know about the bible God is very real to them. Although in their life and conduct they don't show it they are content to believe they are saved simply by believing and accepting the myths.
So in conclusion, it is my opinion that no matter how hard we work at trying to educate the public or in trying to expose the myths, there are always going to be believers. There will always be religions even if Christianity fell the people will simply trade in one religion for another and keep the ball rolling. There are some out there that are willing to go out on a limb and learn about their beliefs from secular sources with an open mind while being religious, but those in my mind are few and far between. Like it or not, religion is here to stay!
Note: All bible quotations are taken from the 1984 New International Version