Is believing in a higher power important? A Tribute to Christopher Hitchens

This is a perplexing topic and one that I truly don’t understand, so I’m looking for input/opinions.
I think trend data is important – it shows the direction things are moving in, and if there’s a change in the trend, it can normally be pegged to a specific event, or confluence of events.
There is ample evidence that the trend in America, especially among the younger generation, that religion is on the wane and support for issues antithetical for the religious is on the rise.I thought about including a number of charts here to back this up, but they can be found here.
Unless I’m wrong, and I’m never wrong, this accounts for much of the religious backlash seen today, with anger directed against those deemed most responsible for falling away from the flock – godless atheists!
This also helps explain the repudiation of science.  If science finds answers that debunk the monotheistic belief of god as a creator, then it too is a threat to said belief system; therefore, for belief to stand pure, science must be discredited. 
It is highly probable that these “threats” to religion drive ordinarily good people to respond in a way that is antithetical to their belief systems.  How else can one account for the hatred, vitriol, and general disdain for a group of people that do not see the world through the same prism?  What I find remarkable is that, for the most part, there is general acceptance among the followers of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism for the others beliefs (with the exception of muslim extremists).  However, all three monotheistic religions unite in their lack of tolerance toward non-believers.
Take for example a message directed to Christopher Hitchens who passed from this world yesterday from complications from his esophageal cancer:
“The Subject : Why you have contracted cancer… satan is the author of cancer and is allowed free reign over people that blaspheme God.”
Or these loving tidbits sent to Richard Dawkins:
“I’m sick of hearing about you, and your theory of evolution. YOU may have evolved from monkies, but leave me out of it! Have you ever tried to make love to a monkey? I mean I wouldn’t be surprised if you have, since sodomites are now running all our Univercities. But I either way I hope you DO get sodomized by satanic monkies in hell!”
“I HATE YOU YOU DONT THINK GOD IS REAL BECAUSE YOUR GAY AND STUPID! WHY DONT YOU STOP BEING GAY AND STUPID AND GO HAVE SEXY TIME! I BET YOU HAVE SEX WITH MONKEYS CAUSE EVELOOTON SAYS SO! MISTER GAY AND STUPID!”
I defy any of my coreligionists to tell me they do not laugh at the idea of Dawkins burning in hell.” Ann Coulter, “Godless.” Source
I try to reconcile in my mind how followers of a message of “love one another” detest those who do not share the same belief system as they do to get to the point of scrapping the message altogether.  But moreover, it’s not limited to those that do not share the same belief systems – Judaism and Islam are certainly not the same as Christianity other than the idea that the same supreme being lies behind the messaging. 
When it’s distilled – as long as someone believes in a god, that person is OK; but if you don’t believe in a god, then it’s “our” job to convert that person to our belief or revel over their soul as it writhes in hell. I remember back to a day in my youth where I was taught that a relationship with god was a private matter; however, those days have apparently changed.
Personally, I find it sad that today hundreds of thousands of Christians (certainly not all, or even close to a majority) are filled with joy that Christopher Hitchens has passed away and his soul is now experiencing eternal punishment.  The irony of this, at least in part, is that this was a driver for what drove Hitchens away from Christianity in the first place and made him an outspoken opponent of religion. 
Hitchens exemplified moral courage by speaking out strongly against religion as a detriment to the human species.  Whether you agreed with him or not, his words provoked people to think.  It is unfortunate, to say the least, that his ideas aggravated people to the point they felt it necessary to attack him personally.
His best known work “God is NotGreat” is highly critical of religion and goes to great lengths to highlight the hypocrisies of the monotheistic faiths.  Obviously no one likes their faith criticized – even tangentially or in the abstract, but Hitchens’ views spoke to millions of non-believers around the world.  The evil missives directed at Hitchens, Dawkins, or other outspoken non-believers, are felt by all that hold similar views. 
I should close this by adding that, when push comes to shove, most atheists are in truth agnostic – in the sense that atheism is not a rejection of a god – it is a rejection of man-based religions that cannot be proven.  While some certainly hold a special disdain for the idea of an interactive deity that favors professional football players over suffering humans throughout the world, for the most part, it comes down to proof.  The faithful believe that a book is all the proof needed and atheists are simply too stupid or stubborn to understand it. 
My out-law cousin (as opposed to my in-law) recently posted a picture to her Facebook page:
 It’s a great message, unfortunately, one that I find myself increasingly skeptical for attainment.  As long as people, religious or not, view their beliefs as sacrosanct, the possibility for coexistence diminishes – especially as more people choose to leave religion and faith altogether – the inevitable backlash from the faithful is assured.  Maybe that’s why some atheists profess allegiance to the Flying Spaghetti Monster – hey, at least they believe in something – right?

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2 Responses to Is believing in a higher power important? A Tribute to Christopher Hitchens

  1. Anonymous says:

    Good article- I only object to "(with the exception of Muslim extremists)"- I would argue that every religion has intolerant extremists and in fact, many Christians and Jews believe ALL Muslims are extremists!Regarding some religious folks' thoughts on cancer – as though it is some kind of moral failure- wish they would keep it to themselves! As if you can pray it away or fight harder!These sentiments are of no help and can make some patients feel they have let others down or somehow been responsible for the course of their illness…

  2. Sean Asbury says:

    Fair point, though "moderate" Christians are generally tolerant of "moderate" Muslims – at least in the rhetoric. But I would tend to agree that deep down, people generally see Most Muslims as extremists as the norm. I think many tend to set aside this prejudice, acknowledging it for what it is, and try to embrace their Islamic brothers and sisters as fellow believers – the same doesn't necessarily hold for atheists….

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