Lately I’ve been reading a book called The Third Basic Instinct: How Religion Doesn’t Get You by Alex Keys. I started reading it because I thought it was a book about Deism. Dictionary.com gives the following definitions for Deism:
1. belief in the existence of a God on the evidence of reason and nature only, with rejection of supernatural revelation
2. belief in a God who created the world but has since remained indifferent to it.
I am fascinated by the concept of using reason and nature to prove God exists yet not believing that God gets involved with our lives. There are some basic tenets of Christianity that I wonder about. So I’ve been doing some studying and reading to help bring clarity to myself. I’ll share those one day….but back to Key’s book.
As I said, I thought it was a book about Deism, but really it is a discussion about how God does not exist. What we as humans called “God” are basically things that we don’t understand or can’t define…..yet. But as we learn more through scientific study, we understand things more and they no longer get assigned to some mysterious God but are facts. A perfect example is weather. People use to think everything about the weather was an act of God, but through the study of meteorology we now understand how weather patterns work and storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes, are no longer God events but phenomenon that have scientific explanations. There is some truth in that logic; I don’t reject that argument.
The author continues with another argument about the creation of life, specifically evolution. There are many Christians who believe in evolution, I personally am one of them. I think the debate about creationism versus evolution is silly because the two need not be mutually exclusive. Scientifically, evolution makes since, but there is still the question of how it started. Some of us say God kicked it off. The author makes the argument that out of nothingness there existed a single cell organism or that in nothingness there existed some omniscient, omnipotent God who was bored. He thinks the single cell organism is more likely. I disagree with this one.
Then he makes an argument that I can’t disagree with. The reward of heaven.
He says this:
“In a sense, religion is often about ‘me.’ My trip to heaven; my feelings; my sins being forgiven. Me, me, me, me….When people fear hell, it is for their afterlife. When people avoid a god’s wrath it is for their protection….Priest have been preaching self-interest since religion began. They tell you, ‘Avoid the danger of judgment day!’ They tell you, ‘You can be forgiven.’”
He goes on to cite examples of people who have done horrible things in the name of religion. Paul Hill, who was given the death penalty for murdering an abortion doctor, before his execution said “I expect a great reward in heaven.” Or suicide bombers who expect to be rewarded by Allah. Religious people acting out of self-interest. He’s right when he talks about all of the division, hurt, pain, and death that has been caused by religion.
And then he says this
“Perhaps the truly ‘unselfish’ thing to do is risk going to hell by bringing humans together in peace by spreading a non-religious morality – even while being religious.”
I’m only about half way through the book, but that is one argument Keys has made that I can’t dispute. How many of us “religious” folks would trade our shot at heaven for the sake of someone else? If you knew you could do something that would save lives….maybe even save souls….at the cost of your own afterlife, would you do it?