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religion atheism history evolution america
(Thanks to Atheist Alliance of America)

Let’s think of religious history less as history than as a kind of organic evolution.

It follows a path leading from primitive to sophisticated — from lower-case gods, plural, to capitalized God, singular — as human beings became more knowledgeable and learned to exercise their inherent rationality more fully. This embedded cartoon smartly illustrates that long, superstitious progression.

I mean, it should make more sense that a patheon of gods would be far less efficient and capable, for example, than one omnipotent, authoritarian being with indisputable agency and power over everything. Right?

And common sense should tell us that, as everything we experience in the universe appears fundamentally and infinitely interconnected, this reality also argues for a single supreme causative agent. So, arriving at the realization of one God rather than many is an intellectual achievement in itself, wouldn’t you say?

Still, where is this monolithic God of which so many speak?

No one can ever seem to locate Him (although habit and culture compel me to still uppercase the reference anyway), at least not in the real world or the other parts of the cosmos we have been able to access or scientifically extrapolate from, or deduce from, up to now.

If we go just one step further and consider whether the complete absence of any material substantiation of “divinity” in the world is also, if not irrefutable proof, then very compelling evidence of absence, which is to say non-existence, we reach a more sophisticated understanding.

That’s where we are now heading, I sense, despite most human beings, including about 70 percent of American citizens, continuing to believe in a so-called “sky god” who they insist rules the universe. But it’s the remaining 30 percent of us who have grave doubts that I’m more interested in. Their skepticism shows we are moving, albeit too slowly, toward an atheistic consensus, although how long that might take to achieve is anybody’s guess — and, if history is a guide, the trend very well could reverse one un-fine day.

Indeed, the ancient Greeks had already started seriously doubting the existence of their many gods way, way back when. And that revolutionary meme had strong legs even through the Roman periods before being eventually blown out of the water in the Middle Ages by rampant Christianity after the Roman Empire collapsed.

So, here we are today, most of us still mired in a medieval adoration of things unseen.

Yet, still, whither God?

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Rick Snedeker is a retired American journalist/editor who now writes in various media and pens nonfiction books. He has received nine past top South Dakota state awards for newspaper column, editorial,...

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