IX. Why Religion Sucks: (Part 2) The Not So Obvious
” How much vanity must be concealed- not too effectively at that- in order to pretend that one is the personal object of a divine plan? How much self-respect must be sacrificed in order that one may squirm continually in an awareness of one’s own sin? How many needless assumptions must be made, and how much contortion is required, to receive every new insight of science and manipulate it so as to ‘fit’ with the revealed words of ancent man-made deities? How many saints and miracles and councils and conclaves are required in order first to be able to establish a dogma and then- after infinite pain and loss and absurdity and cruelty- to be forced to rescind one of those dogmas? Got did not create man in his own image. Evidently, it was the other way about, which is the painless explanation for the profusion of gods and religions, and the fratricide both between and among faiths, that we see all about us and that has so retarded the development of civilization.”
― Christopher Hitchens, God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything
“We will see that the greatest problem confronting civilization is not merely religious extremism: rather, it is the larger set of cultural and intellectual accommodations we have made to faith itself.”
― Sam Harris, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason
“When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called Religion.”
— Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion
While it remains indisputable that countless atrocities are committed as the direct result of religion (click here to read my post about the more obvious consequences of religion), there are many more casualties of this plague that we often fail to notice in light of the activities and beliefs of the world’s many faiths:
How deplorable of a person can you be to preach the gospel in AIDS-ridden Africa and then tell the entire society there that God thinks that condoms are a sin, when condoms have proven to be effective in protecting against the transmission of HIV? And yet this is the Catholic Church’s official position on birth control.
Can you have no love for your children that you refuse to protect them from disease? In Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Taliban have issued fatwas opposing vaccination against polio and other diseases as an attempt to avert Allah’s will, and as an American plot to sterilize Muslims. The Taliban have even kidnapped, beaten, and assassinated vaccination officials, including assassinating the head of Pakistan’s vaccination campaign.
Why is it that we now live among the brilliant thinkers and technological wonders of the twenty first century and we are still arguing over whether or not homosexual couples have the same rights as heterosexual couples. Are you kidding me? All because The Old Testament, which is shared by Judaism, Islam and Christianity, says explicitly that a marriage is between a man and woman. It further states that homosexuals should be killed. Then again, in the same book, it also says that wearing two different types of fabric at the same time is a sin, and that if you work on the Sabbath, you should be beaten to death with sticks. Is this really the best advice we can come up with?
How much farther along would society be with cancer research; what medical breakthroughs have we failed to discover, simply because the religious believe that tiny bundles of stem cells are people, and that souls can live on petri dishes? Indeed, how many bright young minds, who would have grown to be the medical scientists, Nobel Prize winners and great philosophers of their time, where stifled by their church and their well-meaning faithful families to follow a life of religious indoctrination?
How many thousands of followers have suffered from low self-esteem, sexual repression and succumbed to depression, being told that they are born into sin and unworthy of God’s love, all the while held to an impossible “holy” standard. How many millions upon millions of suffering believers have prayed in vain for God to save their lives, to save their children’s lives, to cure their cancer, to bring them wealth, to bring them hope, to stop the violence against them, all to be answered with cold and unflinching silence?
Not to mention that the cosmological and historical claims of the world’s religious texts are simply not true. We live in a world where we can scientifically verify the approximate age of the earth, the solar system, the galaxy, and the Universe, and can describe the evolutionary processes affecting matter at all of these different scales, and yet even now school systems all over the country are insisting that Creationism be taught in schools as an alternative and plausible theory to evolution. My next three blog posts will focus on differentiating these false claims that religion makes from the truth of reality. Do not forget that it is these very claims about reality that are causing numerous hostile eyes throughout the world to look at our country with much disdain, with hopes of ridding the world of our kind and ushering in the final holy war of Armageddon.
The argument that religion has done many things to benefit the world is valid. I will also concede that religion meets many necessary social and psychological needs of human beings. In a future blog post, I will address how these needs can be met without the harms of religion, I promise. For now, I leave you with a quote from Christopher Hitchens:
“One is continually told, as an unbeliever, that it is old-fashioned to rail against the primitive stupidities and cruelties of religion because after all, in these enlightened times, the old superstitions have died away. Nine times out of ten, in debate with a cleric, one will be told not of some dogma of religious certitude but of some instance of charitable or humanitarian work undertaken by a religious person. Of course, this says nothing about the belief system involved…My own response has been to issue a challenge: name me an ethical statement made or an action performed by a believer that could not have been made or performed by a non-believer. As yet, I have had no takers. (Whereas, oddly enough, if you ask an audience to name a wicked statement or action directly attributable to religious faith, nobody has any difficulty in finding an example.)”
For more on this subject, click on the names of the following authors, who have been an invaluable influence to my research on this these topics: