God is the fear of the dark; a paralyzing terror that keeps us hiding in bed beneath the covers too afraid to get up and turn on the light and find out what really made that bumping sound. You mutter prayers and incantations and, after a while, the darkness becomes familiar and comfortable.
It is not easy to stay asleep when the light is on. Once you investigate and discover what made that bumping sound, and there’s always a rational explanation and a material agency with the light on, you can return to bed, turn off the light and sleep soundly and unafraid in the dark with no need of God to hold your hand while you cower beneath the covers.
People who are afraid of things that go bump in the night are called children.
People who turn on the light to see what made the noise are called adults.
Skeptic has become a bad word. It is used to characterize people as ignorant of the world around them and unwilling to accept anecdotal evidence in their alleged insistence to force the world into a materialistic box. There was a time when this was not so, a time not so long ago. There was a time when the opposite of the word skeptic was not open-mindedness to new and faith based belief.
There was a time when the opposite of the word skeptical was gullible. Gullibility is the eagerness to believe that pushes aside contradictory evidence in favor of unsubstantiated rumor and, in the case of religion, raises the ability to believe in spite of no evidence at all to a level of virtue higher than that awarded to a person who insists on knowing the truth. Faith in a demonstrable falsehood is, in the mind of the religious, far better than knowledge. To the faithful, knowledge has become the enemy. Knowledge, the search for truth in increments, is shallow comfort to a person used to receiving his information about the world in one lump, and in one book, through revelation from a non-existent being.
The opposite of knowledge is not faith. The opposite of knowledge is ignorance.
Gaining knowledge is hard work. It requires reading, not just one, but many books. It requires education, paying attention in school and doing your homework. It requires at least an undergraduate degree just to introduce you to the subject and graduate level work if you want to participate in the conversation rather than listen in. When you are an adult, it requires even more reading done on your own time stolen from obligations to family, work and the community in order stay conversant with the newest literature on a subject.
Ignorance is easier and frees up so much of your spare time for the various entertainments, religion being the foremost, offered by our distraction obsessed culture. The knowledge is available through the public library system or, if you have the money, Amazon.com. The only reason for any person to remain ignorant is laziness.
The problem comes when the lazy and ignorant person is confronted with a person who has done the hard work and, therefore, knows more than the ignorant person does. The ignorant person could, and should, realize his opinion is ill-founded and start doing the hard work necessary so he may gain enough knowledge so he may join in the conversation. That this does happen shows it is possible; that it happens rarely shows the bond between laziness and ignorance is hard to overcome.
The problem is a matter of pride. In order to gain knowledge, the first thing that has to go is the idea that your opinion is as good as anyone else’s. It isn’t. Admitting there are people who know more than you do on a subject and seeking these people out and learning from them is not only hard work but it is an act of humility.
Alas, ignorance is its own advocate. When confronted with knowledge that is not to their liking, the last thing the ignorant/lazy want to do is go back to school and learn even more knowledge that will be even more upsetting to their narrow view of the world. The next to the last thing the ignorant/lazy want to do is admit their opinion isn’t equal or superior to the opinion of the person with knowledge.
The poor, the uneducated, the ignorant and the lazy are drawn to religion because they find a way of salvaging their pride and, more importantly, demonize both knowledge and the educated as the work of Satan. Each argument is to be treated as a satanic attack on their faith that must be resisted on threat of eternal punishment in Hell. The person who knows more than do becomes an agent of the Antichrist. They go from being lazy and ignorant to being morally superior to those people who have worked hard to gain knowledge.
Religion is the triumph of ignorance over knowledge.
Their God is hiding behind a curtain pulling levers and pushing buttons and hoping nobody will rip the curtain aside and expose him as the fraud he is.
Their God is no longer the fear of the dark children have then leave behind when they grow up.
Their God is the fear of the Light.