Vast amounts of people over the past few million years have adopted many religions and belief systems, from the early days of us praying to the sun and earth, to nowadays whereby there are an estimated 4200 religions claiming anything outside of their chosen faith is incorrect. However, there are those who simply see religions as mand made creations, built on the backs of great stories, adopted by people.
While many find peace and purpose in the fact that there is a God who truly loves them, a creator who has a special plan for them, there are those who deny the very existence of a supreme being. Men and women who call themselves atheists. The Newcastillian chatted to a local atheist and found out more about their way of life.
“I really don’t have an issue with people’s religion. It’s their thing and what they do,” says Emile Janse van Rensburg.
As a devout atheist, Emile explains that unlike religion, there is no ‘safety net’ which he can rely on in his daily life.
“When religious people do something wrong, they can pray for forgiveness or pray for help. I don’t have that. For me, there is no divine being who will intercept for me. I have to accept my decisions and mistakes and then put the effort in to correct them.”
For religious people, this might be a scary thought. With no higher power to assist or guide you, how will you live or make decisions?
This is where Emile says atheism has its benefits. With no so-called safety net, he needs to really think about his decisions and choices in life. “I have to take my life, my wife, our children and future generations into consideration. I have to think ahead.”
Putting a lot of thought into his life, Emile believes that religions do help certain people to a degree. “Where I need to accept things and move on, I have seen people turn their lives around totally and become better people through their belief system.”
However, he says there is another side to religion. “I like to quote John Dunning, the American author when it comes to religion.”
John Dunning once said, “Regarded dispassionately, there is some justification for the conclusion that evil is the stronger power. The basic principles of life on earth are not conducive to faith in the existence of a compassionate deity. Belief in God or the devil supposes faith, and faith is the most lethal of human qualities. It was faith that fuelled the Inquisition, the Crusades, the Cultural Revolution in China, the Cambodian Genocide and other great butcheries, past and present.”
How can he believe this?
While believing there are upstanding members of society who believe in a higher power, Emile says there are unfortunately those who are ‘weekend warriors.’
“Their lives don’t speak conviction when it comes to their belief system or they use it to justify their actions.”
While people can obtain a lot from religious teachings, Emile says he is fortunate in that he does not have to adhere to any dogma created by organised religion. He is, therefore, able to eat what he wants, wear what he wants without feeling guilty.
“There are pros and cons to both religions and atheism. But atheism works for me. I made the decision about 30 years ago.”
If he feels religion does help certain people, even admitting that there are great religious people, what annoys Emile and other atheists about religious people?
“I would say when they try to convert me. It’s not going to happen,” he laughs.
With thousands of atheists living around the world, is denying the existence of a deity really a cause of concern? Especially when thinking about war, rape, poverty and murder.
As the saying goes, “You don’t need religion to have morals. If you can’t determine right from wrong, then you lack empathy, not religion.”