Following up on my post "Are atheists asking too much?" I wanted to talk a bit more about what it would really mean for people to let go of religion and God.
If you've been reading my blog, you can see what turmoil challenging one's long-held beliefs can create. If you were to hop on to any ex-fundamental religionist forum you'd see many more examples of the angst this causes. The more I think about this, the more I wonder whether humanity is capable of letting go of god; letting go of wishful thinking. Is it even logical or reasonable to think that such a massive shift of beliefs could happen? And if it were to happen, could it really take place as easily as some atheists believe it could?
Of the people I've met from the ex-jw community, many have went from believing in one version of god to another. While they've given up the Bible according to the Watchtower, they've gone on to adopt some other religion's explanation of God and the universe. Some have left Christianity for Islam or Judaism or other God-based systems of belief. Then there are those who have given up the traditional ideas of God for a more New Age approach. Few have given up the idea of God entirely. It seems that the penchant for wishful thinking is all too human at this point in our evolution.
When I read Dawkins and Harris, I wonder sometimes how they think this great shift in consciousness can take place, practically speaking. Having been raised with a fundamentalist world-view I know first-hand the mental acrobats required to learn how to think rationally. Do we need to develop some kind of global therapy program? Because the reality is, fundamentalist and wishful thinking are tied up with so many very emotionally-charged issues and memories. Memories of family, culture, abuse, pain, betrayal---a plethora of the good, bad and the ugly. I find it difficult to see how the majority of believers could give up their illusions and delusions without a great deal of help, both societal and professional. Are we prepared for such a need?
I realize it's not up to Dawkins or Harris or myself to bridge this gap for humanity. I just wonder if perhaps a little more empathy could be shown for the tremendous leap being asked of people when we speak of giving up "the God delusion". Or is it too late for empathy? Is it now a case of ripping off the band-aid really fast and just letting the chips fall where they may? Yet, is it ever too late for empathy?
Perhaps it is the next generation that should receive our focus---the children. But where do we begin?