If you know me, you know that I’m a staunch atheist. I have used many arguments to justify my lack of belief in a deity: hatred, terrorism, death, and so on. Many of the usual reasons people use to justify their militant stance on religious belief. I have come to realize that, while comforting, these reasons are meaningless. Hatred, terrorism, and death would all exist in a world without religion; religion is not the cause of suffering, humanity is.

Today it is common to hear people say things like: “I believe in science!” and “It’s a scientific fact!” When science is not a belief system, nor does science deal in facts. Science offers no proof denying the existence of a God. In fact, science offers no evidence denying the existence of anything. That’s right, it is scientifically impossible to prove that something doesn’t exit. To do so one would need to rule out every single way in which something could be possible. The shear number of experiments in order to prove that an invisible pink unicorn doesn’t exist would number somewhere near the number of atoms in the universe; it is literally impossible to prove that something isn’t true.

There is no such thing as a scientific fact. There are theories that have, so far, proven to be accurate. Every single scientific theory may be proven incorrect if even a single piece of data disagrees with it. Theories are meant to be continuously tested and examined, they are never accepted as fact. Science is not in the business of fact.

This is where I lose respect for religion. A religious mind has forsaken curiosity for a comfortable lie. Why would you look for further truth when you’ve already accepted one that provides convenient answers to all your questions? Religion stifles advancement by stating “this is how it is, you have no need to look any further.” Aristarchus proposed the heliocentric model (the sun as the centre of the solar system) a thousand years before Galileo rediscovered it – both men were laughed at by the religious establishment, ridiculed for questioning the dogma of their time.

When we accept things as truth and fact we are closing our minds to possibility. There is no such thing as fact. As Einstein so poetically stated when asked about his theory of relativity: “When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.” As tiny specs on the face of a tiny spec in an unimaginably large universe the existence of humanity is nothing more than an irrelevant blip. There is no way we could ever know anything. We are too small to even grasp a basic understanding of the small spec of universe within our sphere of observation.

Religion stifles the desire to discover. It takes the explorer and makes him a conqueror, it takes the philosopher and makes him a charlatan, it takes the genius and makes him a heretic. When a segment of society is granted undue protection from the words and ideas of another all of society is made to suffer. Everyone should be free to think as they wish, but none should be free to censor the thoughts of others.