Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
GET UPDATES FROM Diane Weber Bederman

Why Atheists Are Wrong About Religion

Posted: 05/03/2013 12:33 pm

Me think they doth protest too much.

If religion is such a bad thing, then according to the scientific worldview of Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss religion will fade away without their constant harping. Interesting, their references to Darwin. Darwin's theories on evolution did not take away from his sense of awe at the origin of species. He referred to it as the "mystery of mysteries."

Religion, as defined by Rabbi Sacks, the Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, "is not what the European Enlightenment thought it would become: mute, marginal and mild. It is fire -- and like fire, it warms but it also burns. And we are the guardians of the flame."

Religion is more than faith. It provides a moral and ethical framework for our lives. Judaism has been with us for 3,500 years, Christianity for more than 2,000. That Dr. Krauss is disappointed that religion hasn't gone the way of the dinosaur perhaps speaks to the fact that religion provides something of great importance to human beings, an importance that is beyond his grasp.

Lionel Tiger, author of God's Brain, 2010, wrote that religion can satisfy the most basic yearnings of human beings; which might explain why 80 per cent of the world's adults are part of some religious system. As Dr. Tiger said, "You can't have a viable society in which 80 per cent of adults are morons." The brain recognizes a problem and religion tells someone what to do about it. The two systems balance each other.

Religion, the sacredness of its traditions and rituals and symbols can create what Dr. Tiger refers to as "brainsoothing." Participating in a religious service, people "are in a place and involved in a moment they respect and trust, one from which they leave wiser and better human beings." Religion provides common shared stories and experiences. Comfort-for the soul.

Dr. Jeffrey S. Levin of Eastern Virginia Medical School in Social Science and Medicine, 1994 wrote; "The mere belief that religion or God is health enhancing may be enough to produce salutary effects...Various scriptures promise health and healing to the faithful and the physiological effects of expectant beliefs such as this are now documented by mind-body researchers."

Dr. Herbert Benson, cardiac specialist, an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Deaconess Hospital, has written a book called Timeless Healing in which he discusses the effects of religion on healing. He writes that just as we have hard-wired instincts for flight or fight, and for many of us, an innate fear of heights or snakes, we are also hard-wired for God. We seem to be pre-disposed to a need for a connection to something, someone beyond ourselves, greater than ourselves.

Rabbi Sacks wrote about the evolution of thought and behaviour. He referred to the teachings of Moses Maimonides who explained in The Guide for the Perplexed the need for time in social transformation. "All processes in nature, he argued, are gradual. The fetus develops slowly in the womb. Stage by stage a child becomes mature. And what applies to individuals applies to nations and civilizations."

And that applies to religion and belief. Dawkins and Krauss are stuck in an old religion. A religion based on a fatherly God who sits on a throne, somewhere up there feeding our "Darwinian" need for authority. Judaism and Christianity teach the morals, values and ethics that are the very underpinnings of Western culture; the culture that is open to the scientific minds of Dawkins and Krauss.

Science provides the cold hard facts of life. Religion provides meaning. Even Dr. Krauss agreed that we make the meaning in our lives. Why can't that meaning come from religion?

There is a reason that the name for God cannot be pronounced. To name is to limit. To name God is to limit God; it is to put boundaries around this energy, this ethereal, ephemeral, being. It is that sense of limitlessness that brings past, present and future together connecting all that was, that is, and will be. This forces us to think about those who came before and those who will come after so that we care for what is. This is the religious meaning of grounding.

I think these two men have no true understanding of religion and its place in our lives. Rabbi Lawrence Kushner wrote that one cannot see love. Does that mean that love does not exist? And what of the soul? Dawkins and Krauss cannot "see" God so therefore God cannot exist.

Science cannot fulfil all things. If that were true, then Dr. Dawkins and Dr. Krauss would not be lecturing on the need to rid the world of religion. I suggest that it is wishful thinking on their part that religion is on the way out. And if it is true, they don't have to work so hard at convincing us. It will disappear in Darwinian time.

Loading Slideshow...
  • Ruchie Shainhouse

    Ruchie Shainhouse, 19, who was born and raised as an Orthodox Jew in Toronto, now attends Ryerson University.

  • Ruchie Shainhouse

    Shainhouse poses with her family at her sister’s bat mitzvah.

  • Ruchie Shainhouse

    During her year in Israel, Shainhouse took part in a three-day hike in northern Israel with her roommates.

  • Ruchie Shainhouse

    Shainhouse dresses in white and blue to celebrate Yom Yerushalayim, celebrating the reunification of Jerusalem.

  • Ruchie Shainhouse

    On a family vacation, Shainhouse poses with her father and siblings.

  • Michael Reardon

    Michael Reardon, 24, rediscovered Christianity during his time at the University of Oklahoma and now lives in Toronto with his wife. He teaches Bible study at the University of Toronto and York University.

  • Michael Reardon

    Michael Reardon distributes Bibles in Montreal.

  • Michael Reardon

    During his time at the Full-time Training in Anaheim, Reardon served at a Church in California and taught Bible study to high school students.

  • Michael Reardon

    Reardon and his wife, Joyce, giving a testimony about their religious experience in Anaheim.

  • Besma Soltan

    Besma Soltan, 25, has been involved in both Muslim and non-Muslim community ventures. In 2008, she became the co-founder of SPEAKout Poetry, which organizes events called poetry slams for young poets to share their work and thoughts about society.

  • Besma Soltan

    Besma Soltan speaks to Let the Quran Speak, a weekly television talk show, about her involvement in religious activities and SPEAKout Poety.

  • Besma Soltan

    Besma Soltan works with members of SPEAKout Poetry.

  • Besma Soltan

    Besma Soltan, co-founder of SPEAKout Poetry and Michael Prosserman of Unity Charity rally in Toronto in support of art.