Some of her reasons are similar to my own. I enjoy exploring questions in religion and philosophy because it’s intellectually stimulating. As a churchgoer, I used to compose whole essays about certain passages in the Bible and how modern believers could find relevance from them and come away with some kind of moral lesson. I could still do this if I so desired.
Nowadays, I find that a better use of my time is to expound, not only on the many logical inconsistencies with the Judeo-Christian belief structure, but on the dangers of belief itself. And these are not just the intellectual perils. Religion has plenty of that to go around. No, I mean physical danger: parents who believe so much in prayer that they fail to take their sick children to the doctor when illness strikes, and when the kid inevitably succumbs to the illness, the words, “God‘s perfect plan,” shamefully spills from their lips; young men who fly planes into buildings for Allah and the promise of a reward in some long-hoped for paradise; Catholic priests who use the shroud of religion to coax small boys into back rooms of a sanctuary, strip away their innocence and then threaten them with more villainy if they say a word. And all of this just in modern times. This speaks nothing of the hundreds of years of oppression, violence, slavery and misery that religion has heaped on mankind, a misery that is flippantly and ludicrously explained away by the notion of original sin.
Believers may also wonder: if religion fills so many people with comfort, why spend so much time attempting to destroy people’s hope in prayer and even the afterlife? That’s an easy one and can be answered from the Bible. Doesn’t 1 Corinthians 13:11 say Paul put away childish reasoning when he became an adult?
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
For all of his delusional ramblings, Paul did manage to conjure a useful line now and then. It’s too bad, however, that the adult reasoning that Paul is referencing here stops at religion’s door. Here in the real world, childhood fantasies are just that. Santa Claus ceases to be real when we begin wondering how he makes it to all the way around the world in one night, or how he possibly loads all those toys on a single sleigh. For believers, God is like an adult version of Santa who can grant all of their wishes; children who previously believed in Saint Nick want to hold onto the magic, as it were, and although deep down they might sense that it’s logically impossible for God to be both all-loving and all-powerful, they nonetheless desire it to be true so badly that they read their dusty book full of dusty old stories only a child should believe, all the while clinging to the myths.
And this speaks to another reason why I continue to write about religion. It emboldens that pre-evolutionary nature of our species. It plays on, and even thrives, on our fears of death and the dark. And it hinders well-meaning, perfectly reasonable adults in every other area of their lives from simply growing up and facing the world as it is without the filters and without the blinders.
The essential answer to the question, then, is that I write about religion to teach people to think critically about everything, and religion doesn’t get a pass just because some believers claim their texts are sacred. As Euripides is quoted as saying: “Question everything. Learn something. Answer nothing.” If the human species is ever going to crawl out of the logical malaise in which it finds itself, critical thinking about religion must mirror the critical thought that we graciously afford everything else in our lives. We make careful, calculated, and for the most part, well-reasoned choices when it comes to our finances and major life decisions; why are we so willing to hop out of the boat on faith when there is not only little evidence to warrant such a decision, but when the supposed “evidence” from the Bible that we do have is fatally flawed on nearly every area of inquiry that matters, from science, to history, to literary analysis and philosophy? Such is the power of religion to poison; I write to concoct a cure.
Edit: After reading over this explanation on why I write about religion, I realized it was deficient in at least one area: I also criticize faith in the hopes that something I have said may give comfort to those who have likewise dragged themselves out of religion. To “come out” as a nonbeliever here in America is hard enough in certain contexts; to do so living under the heel of a theocracy in some wind swept Middle Eastern village may be unthinkable. And here is another of religion’s perils: once under religion’s spell, a person does not have the freedom to merely change their minds without facing potentially severe consequences. At best, these may includes causing damage to relationships or losing a whole network of friends, or at worst, ostracism from the community or physical reprisal. These consequences are unacceptable, all for committing the “sin” of thought crime.