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Children deserve a future, not a past.

There are around 1,500,000,000 muslims, 1,000,000,000 christians, just 14,000,000 jews (it surprises most people how few) plus assorted other faiths on our planet. What they all have in common is an allegiance to outdated thinking and a nervousness about waking up and moving on. A tiny few are so nervous, they believe they are sanctioned by a mystical deity to kill people who suggest their books are out of date and should be considered historical curios rather than offering some sort of enlightenment.

All sentient species develop faith. They need constructs to explain the world they experience and to establish safe, reliable strategies to deal with them. A chicken knows not to go into water because it can't swim and will therefore drown. It doesn't know why it can't swim, nor what drowning is. It just has faith that water is bad news. Likewise humans who live in far more complex environments and social groups have developed a vast range of constructs to ensure that they survive and that their genes propagate.

Homo Sapiens has been around for about 800,000 years. For 799,800 of those years, or approximately 40,000 generations, explanations about the world didn't change from one generation to the next. Your father knew, or could have learned, what your grandfather knew which is what your great-grandfather knew and so on. Knowledge - ie what you know rather than what you need faith to believe - didn't change from one generation to the next. The idea of scientific discovery never occurred to anyone because it simply didn't noticeably ever happen until well into the 19th century. There were a few spurious exceptions every few hundred years such as Archimedes, Newton and Galileo, but most people didn't know these guys existed and we are lucky their discoveries weren't expunged by the faith gestapo of their day. Darwin too.

So how did humans explain the world before we started discovering stuff? How did we develop rules for co-existence without understanding how or why things worked the way they do. Simple. We made them up. We took best guesses using all the knowledge, such as it was at the time, to explain what we experienced in order to predict what might happen. The people who did this were undoubtedly 'wise men' in their day appointed by tribal leaders to collect and disseminate their wisdom to their tribes. Their sets of explanations together with the rules they devised around that understanding were designed to promote social harmony (don't kill and steal etc). They were also essential for tribal propagation such as don't marry your sister and other useful tips to help their kin survive and breed.

Such guesswork and deductions were assembled into collections of books we call scriptures - the most famous being the Abrahamic books progressing from the Torah through the Bible to the Qu'ran. To these we can also add Hindu, Sikh, Confucian, Taoist, Buddhist, Mormon and a plethora of other assembled works all based around the same apparently never changing comprehension of the world that scattered tribes passed down from generation to generation for the previous 799,800 years. Wise men guessing about the world because the discovery of knowledge simply didn't happen or even occur to them that it might. They all knew that mankind would never learn anything new to explain the world's infinite number of mysteries. There could therefore only ever be one answer. God did it. It was pointless to question this. It was always a matter of divination from this one fact that they never needed to question. Why bother? Look around you at all the things you will never understand. Clearly there must have been an infinite intelligence who created it all. It was preposterous to think otherwise. Religion wasn't faith. It was the only certainty our species ever had.

This global and obvious 'truth' was unchallenged for 799,800 years until the age of enlightenment starting 200 or so years ago which has culminated in the massive clash of old and new orders we are witnessing today. Salafists, Creationists and the like still insist their old books can explain the world and therefore how we need to live our lives - including, vitally, the concept of an all-knowing super-computer in the sky. The rest of us have decided to question whether all the answers really do lie in books written before man began to discover explanations for mysteries previously explained only by a God concept. Where in the Qu'ran or the Bible does it mention a Higgs Boson - or even an atom come to that? In all the holy books there is not one tiny scientific clue or previously unknown scientific understanding passed on by a god to man. And please don't use the traditional religious cop out that god enabled us to discover things for ourselves. His books are packed full of other types of 'enlightenment' and 'teachings'. So why not the slightest scientific revelation? And god will definitely know if there's life on other planets. Why doesn't he tell us? Oops. He couldn't. The Earth was by far the biggest thing around. 'Heavenly bodies' were just strange dots in the sky. The idea of anything living on any of them was preposterous so god would never be that stupid. Who'd worship a stupid god?

The reason atheism is the fastest growing sect everywhere except Africa, the Middle East and, terrifyingly, the USA, is because the rest of us have realised those old books teach us nothing to help us solve the world's mysteries. 'God did it' simply doesn't make sense any more. And by the way, atheism is not a faith. It might be defined as an absence of faith although one might paradoxically argue that atheists have faith that everything is one day explainable even if we can't today... because we've only been trying for 200 years. But what an enormous amount we have discovered in those 200 years. Imagine what we'll know in another 1,000 or 1,000,000 years! Does anyone really believe that in 1,000 years there will be a single human who will still be relying on understanding the world by reading books written by ancient Middle East chaps who heard voices and the like?

Holy books were the start of our understanding of the world, not the end. Please wake up and stop getting so angry about people who don't need your make-believe to make sense of the world. And please let your children ask questions. Insist they ask questions. Discoveries forever will be made. Why try to reverse time? Our children deserve a future, not a past.

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  1. Well argued. Thanks for trying to make a difference

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