Some bizzare news from Olympia, Washington has been making the rounds lately. The Freedom from Religion Foundation put up a sign in the Capital Rotunda of that fine city. It was apparently placed among some other Christmas type decorations, including a nativity scene, and had the message, which in part said, “Religion is but myth and superstition”. That ever vigilant Christmas warrior, Bill O’Reilly, happily living in his delusions, went on the attack, as usual. Even though none of the religiously themed decorations were defaced or stolen. The Freedom from Religion Foundation’s sign was stolen however, and was eventually returned with the addition “Thou shalt not steal” added to it. Nice to see that some overly zealous Christmas warriors need to be reminded about the commandments they are supposed to be following.
What interested me however, was the quote from Annie Laurie Gaylor, a co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. From the above linked article:
Annie Laurie Gaylor of Madison, Wis., a co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, said the group has displayed a similar sign in the Wisconsin Capitol for more than a decade, and has gotten used to this sort of response. For the first few years, opponents of the anti-religious message have turned the sign to face the wall, stolen it and even showered it with acid, she said.
“It is interesting that our views are so threatening that they have to be stolen and stifled completely,” Gaylor said.
The idea that there is no, or probably is no God is “threatening”. Why? Indeed, the idea is so powerful that zealots feel compelled to stifle it and stamp it out of public discourse. Why is that? I suspect it has to do with living in that bubble. That bubble of comforting and unchanging ideas that never have to face up to or recognize the reality of the world around us. The weakness of the religious position is recognized and is not something to be thought about. Knowing that rational discourse is not a tool that works in religion’s favor, they strike back against a more powerful perceived enemy in the only way they know how. Childish, but what else can they do? What is this great power that the zealous children fear?
The Freedom from Religion Foundation is an apt name. Once one breaks the shackles of religious dogmatic thinking, one is no longer chained inside a warm comfortable nest of religious doctrine. Instead, one is outside, feeling the biting sting from the cold winds of reality. We are confronted by a universe which does not have the capability to care one smidgeon about us. We are confronted by the fact that the only heaven humanity will have is the one that we build. We are confronted by the fact that morality has a human, not a divine, basis.
The power is that not being chained by dogma, we are free to reason, as adults. We are free to use our human curiosity to better understand the nature around us, and use the knowledge gained to better our society, to approach ever closer some idea of heaven. We are fee to understand the reality of human nature and what our capacities may be. We are free to ride those cold winds of reality to ever greater heights, unencumbered by superstitious baggage..
These are challenges the religious zealots, those who steal signs, would rather not face. Possibilities they would rather not be reminded of. They would rather stay inside the warm nest accomplishing nothing, than to be outside, building and creating.