It is the age old argument that has been the cause of great disagreement, great speculation and great wars. Religion. It is a part of our lives, whether we are religious or not. We are brought up being taught about our religions and those of others. How the world was formed, about sacred religious scriptures, Gods. I learnt about the Christian faith way back in Primary school. We sang hymns in assembly about how God was the "light" of the world. We went to church at christmas to re-enact the birth of Jesus in a nativity play (where I was never good enough to be cast as Mary, always one of those background angels) In High school, we learnt more about the religions of the world. Buddhism, Judaism, Islam and Hinduism. What their beliefs were. But mainly, from an early age, it is drummed into us that, as a Christian majority in this country, we should believe in God as he is the creator of all living things.
Ok, so God created the world and everything in it. In a process of seven days, according to Genesis, the first book in the Bible. The first few sentences are this: "In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth. The Earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters." It goes on to tell how God said "Let there be light" and light just appeared, the same with land, plants and animals. Then he proceeds to make man, in the image of himself. All in a week. Not bad going. And so, we are led to believe, that a supernatural being, who himself has appeared from nowhere, created the Earth and every living creature that inhabits it. Look around you and you see trees, clouds, grass. People walking past, dogs perhaps. A rogue cat here and there. All pottering about in this vast amount of space between the land and the sky. And you believe that this is all down to the hand of one being.
I took Philosophy at A Level. This doesn't make me an expert on religion in the slightest. But, although I was already an atheist, once I was past the stage of naivety, able to think for myself and make my own decisions on religion, it still opened my eyes to many things and made me process religion differently and more logically. I cannot, since the days have gone where I believed everything I was told, comprehend the idea of God and the theory of Creationism. Not being able to fully understand a situation however, does not render it false or untrue. It is perhaps just something that is beyond our realm of thinking, that a single being could physically have created every living thing we see around us. However, I am very much a scientifically inclined thinker and whole heartedly believe in evolution.
Creationism is, by proxy, what Christians believe in. They also believe that God is all around us, watching us and protecting us, his creation. This is a reason as to why many believe in him. He is not a lifeless entity, but one with a "personality" and a likeability, because He takes care of us and loves us. Because He is, of course, omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent. In other words, he is all loving, all powerful and all knowing. An "Omni-God" if you like. How could we argue with that? A creator who knows and loves everything? Many philosophers over time have argued the existence of God and how there is no understandable nor logical reason as to how he cannot exist. Without getting overly philosophical, Anselm's Ontological argument about God being "that than which nothing greater can be conceived" tries to prove God's existence in a long winded way, the basics being that we can imagine a perfect being in our minds and in reality, those that exist in both are greater than those that exist in just one. Since God is the greatest idea, he must exist in reality as well as the mind or something else in reality could be seen as greater than Him. Or, in other words, a giant "clutching at straws" explaination. This is not the only philosophical argument about the existence of God but they all cover the same storyline; "God must exist because..."
Coming away from the overly complicated arguments of philosophers, people have their own reasoning as to why they believe God exists and that he is the Creator. Some cannot conceive the idea of evolution because it comes without faith. Religion and science have always been at war with one another, more so in the last few centuries. Religious people (I'll stick with Christians in this instance because I'm more familiar with them) thrive on belief and faith. Everything they do in their lives is leading up to a point in which they will be given the ultimate reward. Eternal life. If they are good Christians and practise and spread the word of God, they will be taken up to Heaven into His open arms. So of course, it's no wonder that they are religious. To know that when they die, their soul will carry on living. But I often wonder this. How can people who believe that this being, who created every living thing from nothing, who's son was born to a virgin and rose from the dead and who takes a good Christian soul up into a heavenly world of harp playing angels, think that evolution is not possible, when it is far more logical a belief than the former?
To touch on another point of the Christian belief of God, as I said before, he is an "Omni-God." But how can he be? I see violent wars ripping apart countries, limb from limb, killing innocent children. I see good people suffering with incurable diseases. I see babies never given a chance to live. And then I wonder, if God is really all loving, powerful and knowing, how can he allow any of these things to happen? If He were to exist, He could not possibly be all of those things. Take this situation: A 3 year old boy is diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour. He has very little time left and is in a great deal of pain. If there is a God he either; loves this boy who is part of his creation and knows of his suffering but is powerless to stop it. He knows of the boys suffering and is poweful enough to help him but he does not have love for him as part of his creation. Or He is powerful enough to help and he loves the boy as part of his creation but he he does not know of the boys suffering. Either way, there is no possibility that he could be an "Omni-God" or these situations would not occur. Although Christians would argue that God does have all of those qualities but he has given us free will to make our own decisions and mistakes, surely He would step in at some point when it all goes too far? Two World wars, millions of innocent civillians killed, millions of soldiers killed, millions of Jews killed... the list is endless. Where was God then? Where was He during the Holocaust? Where was He during the reign of terror that Saddam Hussein had over Iraq? Where was He on 9/11? I'll tell you where He was. He was nowhere.
Charles Darwin, the enemy of the religious, came up with the theory of evolution. That we all started as micro-organisms and evolved over millions of years to become who we are today through a process he refers to as "survival of the fittest." There is evidence of evolution all around us, as Darwin had found and written about. It makes absolute sense, to me anyway, that there is every reason to believe that is how the world is as it is. There is no evidence that God made the World. The only thing that Christians have, and use when things like this are raised, is the Bible. But, if you aren't blinded by your faith, it is plainly obvious that the Bible it just a storybook full of moral endings. Which is not a bad thing, it is still a good book for Christians to read to try and learn more about themselves but it is not a book of truth. It may help you lead a good Christian life but it shouldn't be believed to be, and excuse the pun, gospel. Noah did not build an ark and keep two of every animal on board. Moses did not part the Red Sea with a stick. You see where I'm going.
I used to go to church when I was younger as my dad's side of the family is religious. I hated going because it was like being dragged to an AA meeting when I'd never touched a drop of alcohol in my life. I didn't need to be there because I had no regard for anything they were saying. But it was insisted upon. They would talk about certain chapters in the Bible and relate it to every day life. I would sit kicking the pews and counting down the minutes until I could leave. I could just never "get" what they were saying and I wondered how anybody else could. I am fairly open minded on most things. But not religion. I'm pretty much closed minded on this. I don't think badly of religious people, I would love to be able to completely throw myself into believeing in a faith. How great it would be, if God did exist and all our sins were forgiven once we died? But again, that's not the case. Because we then have the issue of Hell. You will hear some Christians say that if you don't follow the word of God and live a good life free of sin, then you will not be accepted into Heaven and you will be damned to Hell. Why is that then, when it is also so widely believed that God is all forgiving? Surely, if he can forgive anything and anyone, all people will be welcomed into Heaven? Not just the ones he picks and chooses? It seems that these "teachings" are only used to suit. If God has forgiveness in His heart for all then I fully expect to see Him up there chatting away with Hitler and Bin Laden. A ridiculous concept? Of course it is. What self respecting Christian would believe God would invite murderers and terrorists into Heaven? Well, every Christian that believes that God has the capacity to forgive everyone regardless, actually.
I could probably go on forever with this. It is a right to believe what we want (at least in this country) and I respect it to a degree. I don't enjoy religion being thrown in my face so I just wanted to throw a little bit of atheism back out. I believe what I see. I see evidence for evolution all around me. I see no evidence for the existence of God. And until I see souls being beamed up into the sky or the second coming of Christ, I'm afraid an atheist I will remain. As for the truth, I suppose none of us will really know in every degree of certainty, until it is too late to preach it.