We want to believe what everyone in our group believes. When Americans point at Sadam Hussein, we want everyone in the group to sneer. We want them to sneer because we sneer. We can all agree he is evil and does evil things. We can all agree he is rotten even though we have no direct or very often circuitous evidence that he is responsible for evil. Someone from our government told us he was bad and by golly he must be. “If my man George Bush says he’s bad, I like George Bush and therefore Sadam must be bad.” I’ve never met an Iraqi, I’ve never seen what his government is like or whether his people think he’s OK or not. But that is really not the reason most Americans believe we need to go to war. They believe what their friends believe, and hate the people their friends hate, and they all can recite the “real” Pledge of Allegiance just like all their friends can.
One of the greatest needs of the human being is being a part of the group. Even if what the group is doing is idiotic. Even if what the group is professing is irrational. Being part of the group has more sway than you might ever believe. Men don’t stand in military ranks because of some devotion to a greater cause or some high moral principle. They stand there and die because they think being part of that group of friends is more important than their own life. They won’t let down their friends and fellow soldiers. Their officers won’t let down their superiors. Being part of the group far out distances the need to be rational, or self-preserving, or any other motivation save possibly defending their own child.
Until there are established groups, clubs, associations that espouse rational thought, and critical thinking, there is little chance of upturning the theistic support clubs called churches. Nontheists need to meet, discuss, encourage and debate. They need to form the groups that are so essential to human beings. Because they are humans and humans need to be part of a group of common minds. They need to pick out groups to despise, fundamentalists or creationists will do. They need to have common creeds that they can all recite.
We are all human beings and have these basic desires to be part of the group. The most frequent and common group where we can gain acceptance and support is the church group. All you have to do is declare allegiance to the Grand Poobah and profess to believe a ridiculous fairy tale, and you are in. Loved for exactly who you are. Accepted as part of the group. Going to share in the great riches of the afterlife. Ready willing and able to hate who we hate, love who we love, and provide a covered dish of your choice on Pot Luck Tuesday. Tomorrow they could change the names in the church to Twinkle Toes the savior and Herman Munster the great Botswani in the sky, and as long as no one raised too much of a stink, the folks would still show up on Sunday and still show up at Tuesday’s covered dish supper. Until there is an alternative choice to what those groups provide, the chances of eliminating the religious effect from this country is nil. Humans need that group behavior–rational or not.