Is religion damaging?

Yes.

Not only that, but it’s dangerous.

In a very general sense, I have no qualms with the majority of religion. And by religion, I mean organised religion, but this can mostly be applied to any form of belief in supernatural beings.

Religion has its benefits; it forces people to abide to their own morals that much more, it brings people together in amicable terms, it has beautiful architecture, it gives a sense of inner peace to those in need of it, and religious people mostly don’t affect my immediate life, bar a few people, say, in Korea, who would march around the subway system dressed in a sign informing me that if I don’t repent and believe right now, I will definitely go to hell.

But just a few seconds of thought brings me to the opposite conclusion. Religion brings about ignorance, denial, ostracism, war, abuse and fraud.

  • Ignorance and denial.

    Well of course. Anyone who looks up history can see that religion and supernatural beings arose out of ignorance. Although this may not necessarily be the actual, 100% functioning switch that turned on a global desire to believe, it seems quite intuitive and blatant to me that the human urge to ‘know’ simply forced our minds to resolve via preternatural means  that which we cannot define with our fundamental senses.

    The Sun God came to be until we understood what the sun was. We were the centre of the Universe until we understood what the universe was. Earth was 6,000 years old until we understood what geology, biology, well, science was.

    The God of the Gaps is a term used precisely for this. The less we know, the more we assign to Godly circumstances. This being said, we are in the age of information and we are knowing more and more every single day, and this has been a pattern for centuries. Now that information is online and readily available to almost everyone on earth, it stands to reason that ignorance is simply a choice, and beliefs in the untrue will quickly fade.

    Why hasn’t it? Well, religion. Religion creates a set of mostly unchangeable rules. Set in stone. Final. If science contradicts it, science must be wrong because… because.

Even if you feel much of science is falsified, you cannot deny that Science is a self-correcting mechanism. The process of science requires many people from all angles to peer review, test and retest a theory. If the theory succeeds, it is a fact. It is a fact until that theory falls flat one day, which is usually does. Then the world has learnt something, and the science is corrected.

Religion does not have this mechanism, unfortunately, and it leaves an uncomfortable percentage of the world (I think I heard 70% of Americans believe in a Christian God?) in darkness.

The world is so bewilderingly astonishing and, to be honest, much, much more exciting and wonderful than all the books of ancient times describe, and those who follow religion are left without ever having the chance to appreciate it.

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  • Ostracism and fraud.

    A belief system of any kind really can be seen as a kind of racism. I know more people than i’d like who are firm believers in Astrology. The very premise of Astrology is that people who are born at certain times are directly linked to various arbitrary star combinations in the sky, which, under know logical course or system of proof, directly affects your personality throughout your life.That being said, does that mean I am born with all my personality traits waiting to develop, and there is nothing about me that is unique, and nothing in the environment and society around me contributes to who I become?So when I meet a Leo, I am not compatible according to the stars, we shouldn’t be friends. The girl seems interesting enough, with a lot in common with me. But that which we have in common must be a lie and I should stay away.Maybe she was my dream girl!

    There are so many occasions where people will go and get their star signs read to them, and they believe is so heavily that they will break up their relationship or make wild, stupid decisions based on the results.

    This seems ridiculous to most of us but it’s very real, and don’t think your religion is excluded from such things. If you are Muslim, you stay away from the Christians. If you are Christian, you stay away from the Muslims. You cannot marry each other, and for the most part you cannot even hang out with each other.

    Of course this is speaking generally, and I don’t think it’s a written rule, but the fact that these divides exist causes a large trench between the two ‘races’ of belief; they are two totally different species.

    Surely it makes much more sense in this world to just accept we are the same species with a lot more in common with everyone than we realise?

    Churches, palm readers, Homeopathy ‘doctors’, they all get $$$ in an uncounted proportions for this gigantic collection of lies. homeopathy is even funded by the NHS in Britain. A treatment which is completely reliant on the Placebo Effect – Something which is actually illegal in the rest of the world of proper medicine.

    People have years and years of training in Acupuncture, learning and memorising the Chi points, locations in which the needles should be poked. yet proof has repeatedly confirmed that what little effect acupuncture does have on the body is indistinguishable from applying needles in completely random positions over the body.  Again, this process mostly relies on the Placebo Effect, and in many cases, it’s actually less effective than a placebo.

The false nature of Acupuncture, Astrology, Homeopathy, Dowsing etc… has been repeatedly proven for years, yet people need
to believe it. People have practice these things for decades, completely oblivious to the fact that it doesn’t work because

A) They want to believe, and those occasional coincidences confirm their beliefs.

B) There is a lot of money in it, so even if, deep down they know full well 
it’s fraud, they like money more than truth.

  • War and Abuse.

    War is an obvious one. Religious defenders will argue immediately with the words Stalin and Hitler, atheists who created two of the greatest atrocities on earth.Myth: Hitler was an atheist.
    Hitler was a catholic, and although he may not have practiced it to the extend of a fully fledged pope, he often spoke and wrote about it.

These are defunct arguments. Why? Neither started wars because of Atheism. Their
goals, ambitions and ideals were not remotely related to atheism. Yes, Hitler ran
through what you could argue as a Darwinian process of selection.

But Darwinian isn’t Atheism, it is a scientific process. And I don’t think any sensible
person  of any belief or non-belief would seriously suggest a Darwinian style society,
which would of  course bring mass death and suffering around the globe.

No, there is no person that comes to mind that created war and death in the name of
Atheism. Religion? Well, I don’t even need to discuss those examples.

But Religion doesn’t only work on such an obvious scale as war. It has a more subtle
approach to destroying civilization.

When religious families bring a child into the world, this child is immediately religious. They are stamped as religious in their birth certificates, they follow their families to their churches or cult gatherings or whatever, and they grow up with a set of lies embedded into them, before they even knew how to doubt what their parents told them.

This use of authority to brainwash a child is a form of child abuse if you want to put it bluntly. You are denying the child a right to think for itself. Sometimes those children can, over time, pull out of it, much to the shame and disappointment of their family. Leaving ones religion is called apostasy, and  I can think of one religion that would sentence those poor fellows to death:

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A child is forced, against its will, to follow the will of an authority. Why not let the child grow up first, and allow it to learn about the world and make its own decision? Perhaps because these organisations know that the child will not join their cult, will not pay for their gold plates and cathedrals, ceremonies and bullet proof cars, instead preferring the direction of truth.

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2 thoughts on “Is religion damaging?

  1. “This use of authority to brainwash a child is a form of child abuse if you want to put it bluntly. You are denying the child a right to think for itself. Sometimes those children can, over time, pull out of it, much to the shame and disappointment of their family. Leaving ones religion is called apostasy, and I can think of one religion that would sentence those poor fellows to death”

    So do atheist parents not enforce a sense of morality or authority on their own children? Do they not tell a kid what to do, what is wrong, and what is the appropriate way to behave? Isn’t this “brainwashing” too? If not permitting a kid to act however they want – encouraging a basic set of ethics and qualities upon the child without their permission – is a form of risible brainwashing, then no one raises their child correctly, even in a secular society.

    “No, there is no person that comes to mind that created war and death in the name of Atheism. Religion? Well, I don’t even need to discuss those examples.”

    Well perhaps you should. Religion is often used as a *rationalisation* for war, but the actual reasons for war are diverse and often much more pragmatic than religious intolerance. Take the Iraq war: Bush once referred to it as a “crusade”, whilst Muslims referred to America as “the great Satan” – but America was far more preoccupied with Iraq’s military presence, economic power, and terrible human rights violations, than bringing Christianity to the region. Meanwhile, America is hardly the only non-Islamic country in the world, and it is convenient that the country middle-eastern Muslims happen to treat as the anathema, is also the exact same country that has a history of exercising a massive economic, political and military influence over the whole region. Blaming religion for, say, Muslim violence against the Western world denies the decades (or even centuries) of complex relationships between nations. When an Iraqi’s family are killed by a precision missile strike, there is far more than religion encouraging the survivors to hate Americans.

    I find it naive to suggest that a world without religion would be any less violent. Without a religion, leaders, demagogues, and lunatics would just as easily find another justification for supporting violence and intolerance against others.

    • Thanks for the significant post.

      Your’re right in a few points, although I don’t think I suggested the things you imply as much as you think.

      1 – Of course all parents apply authority, and all parents are guilty of shaping their children to their own design, that is unavoidable. I’m not excluding any group from that. The difference is that religion doesn’t allow – ideally – any flexibility. You are given a set of rules and whatever contradicts it is false. They fear change. Just recently Afghanistan was denied the right of women’s rights because religious traditionalists demanded they maintain laws allowing them to rape their wives whenever they see fit, beat any woman in the right circumstances and marry children if they please. The suggestion that this is changed was outrageous, and thus put on immediate hold.

      Atheism doesnt have this problem. The beauty of being raised an atheist means you have the freedom to look at the world and see it how you want to see it. Atheism allows mistakes in belief, it can be capricious. It also does not punish when you feel like religion is the right direction for you. It does not discriminate. Of course, this is of course in the ideal world of atheism. The ideal world of religion is a much uglier place to me.

      Yes you are right that people often use the religion card when it comes to war, perhaps to an exaggerated extent, and yes America has done far more war crimes than any Islamic nation. non-religious wars are not exempt, but the point is, nobody charged into the battlefield with bombs on their chest yelling ‘In the name of Atheism!’

      There is nothing to follow and abide by in that sense. Religion, unfortunately, creates this. Yes, it’s mostly a minority and for the extremists, but the fact that they are created at all as a result of religion is reason enough for me to feel a certain disdain. Of course there are other motives and states of mind that creates mass murderers and war criminals (Kim Jong Un?), But that doesn’t hide the fact that Religion is often the cause of a hell of a lot of death, Atheism isn’t.

      I also agree that a world without religion may not be less violent, but then, I never said that.

      Having said that, it is an interesting idea to ponder about, should religion be wiped out, or should it (say, Christianity) completely take over globally, how would it turn out?

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