On the anniversaries of tragic events, it’s eventually asked what we learned from that event. From 9-11, I hope we have learned the liabilities of faith. The hijackers who piloted the airplanes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and into that Pennsylvania field did so because they were sold on the idea that their lives after death would be infinitely better, to the tune of some number of virgin young women, than their actual lives on earth.
This is the liability of faith. When a creed, a set of beliefs, principles and opinions are based on nothing but the imagination, rhetorical talents and salesmanship of its propagators, justifications for anything, including mass murder by suicidal acts are easy to conjure up. All it takes is a little cherry-picking of suitably oracular passages from whatever holy book appropriate, a little cut and paste, and voila, martyrdom is the highest expression of faith, my friend. In a similar way, indoctrination and worship of a living god-emperor was used to fill the ranks of kamikaze suicide pilots in World War II.
The events of 10 years ago today gave us a shocking and tragic lesson in this liability. I think this is why there are increasing numbers of people who have “come out” as atheists. This is why there is a new emphasis on secular and non-theistic thinking and study of religion as a natural phenomenon. At least some of us have realized that it’s not what particular faith you have, but that you have faith, belief without proof, at all. I hope this new Renaissance continues and blossoms, because it is reason, not faith that will keep humans from destroying themselves, their civilizations and much of the life on our little blue planet.