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Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

6th place — Garrett Dare: The harm of the willfully ignorant

Garrett Dare

FFRF awarded Garrett $500.

By Garrett Dare

Since the age of 10, I have considered myself to be a freethinker. I am one of the lucky few who was never pressured to be religious, despite attending church and Sunday school. After learning that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy were all make-believe, I decided the same must be true for God. I began to take everything I heard at church with a hefty grain of salt.

On Sundays, I was taught lessons on morality and heard fun stories about talking snakes and burning bushes, but I treated them the same way that I treated animated Disney films. Unfortunately, this kind of breakthrough does not occur for many individuals.

Instead of taking bible lessons and Sunday sermons as metaphorical, many people will take every word from the bible as law. This worship of the bible is known as bibliolatry and it is incredibly dangerous for the future of our society. Basing one’s political and social viewpoints on the words of an ancient and heavily flawed book is reckless, harmful and incredibly ignorant.

Examples of the negative impact of bibliolatry can be seen just about anywhere in the current sociopolitical landscape. The more obvious examples include the bigoted legislation being proposed against LGBTQ people, the never-ending attack on women’s reproductive rights, blaming school shootings on the lack of God in schools, and the ever-growing anti-science movement. Our current administration’s policies and crass behavior have helped to bolster the confidence of many closed-minded individuals and hate groups. The constant fear-mongering and scapegoating has brought many closeted bigots and religious fanatics out into the open. It seems that more bible-based legislation is being pushed now than any time in recent history.

The major problem with basing one’s morals on the bible is that it lacks genuine and consistent morality. The bible was put together from a variety of writers in an attempt to unite an empire under one religion. It was not expertly crafted or written by a supernatural being. It does not follow a moral compass, nor does it stay consistent in its messages. It is flawed and should not be taken seriously. Many incredibly dated and horrifying ideals are presented in its pages.

Religious people tend to cherry-pick the ideals that are most convenient for them or their political party. Their favorites include gay sex being an abomination (Leviticus 18:22), but they tend to avoid other horrible verses, such as selling a daughter into slavery (Exodus 21:7). The bible is filled with archaic rules, horrible punishments for silly transgressions, uneducated ramblings, blatant disregard for human life and God’s favorite: misogyny.

I believe that bibliolatry stems from fear and a sort of extreme laziness. People are afraid of change, and they are afraid to admit when they do not understand something. It is far easier to join a group of like-minded individuals from your community than it is to spend many hours researching and thinking critically. The willfully ignorant masses that reject critical thinking, avoid books and believe every clickbait title they see are the same people who spread fear and misinformation. People fear what they do not know, and they attack what they fear. They fear other races, nationalities and ways of thinking. Most of all, people fear what they perceive as threats to their religion.

The bible should not have any power over the modern world. Individuals, corporations and political parties have absolutely no reason to turn to the bible for guidance or inspiration. The modern world does not need the dogmas of the ancient world to guide us into the future. These dated ideals would only serve to entrench us in the past and drive us into a dystopian society based on fear and hatred. If we are to prosper and grow, then we must educate ourselves and sever our ties with the dated principles of the bible. To this end, I believe we must focus on educating our children in the ways of critical thinking and open-mindedness.

Garrett, 28, from Eugene, Ore., attends the University of Oregon, where he plans to graduate with an art and technology degree. After graduation, he hopes to work on children’s books that get kids excited about education and freethinking. A children’s book that features his illustrations will be self-published soon on Amazon.