Considering the number of churches and mosques burnt or bombed lately, the number of worshipers of different faiths murdered by those of some other faith, and the rise in persecutions carried out in the name of religion abroad and at home; it’s time to try to understand what is wrong.
The one thing that all these atrocities have in common is obvious: religion itself.
The Problem is Religion
I make no secret of the fact that I am afraid of all religious people. I may respect them, I may even esteem some of them for their courage or for their compassion or for their oratorical ability or for the breadth of their knowledge. But I’m still afraid of them.
I’m afraid of them because they can be convinced of anything. It may be harmless that some of them think they can fly, or walk on water, or live forever, but religious people can also be convinced to put on an exploding vest and murder a crowd of people they don’t know. They can be convinced to burn people alive. They can be convinced to carry out great wars that slaughter millions.
“On the dogmas of religion, as distinguished from moral principles, all mankind, from the beginning of the world to this day, have been quarreling, fighting, burning and torturing one another, for abstractions unintelligible to themselves and to all others, and absolutely beyond the comprehension of the human mind.” –Thomas Jefferson
Right now in 2019, a lot of people are blaming President Trump for the upsurge in religious hatred and violence. He’s certainly guilty and deserves blame.
Trump may be the least religious president in history, but he knows how to stir up the nastiest people to carry out the nastiest program. But Trump isn’t the crux of the problem. If religion were not such a handy tool, politicians like Trump wouldn’t use it. Religion itself is the problem.
Religion may be promulgated by very intelligent and capable people, but its true province is among the ignorant and easily misled. Religion is the enemy of reason, the enemy of knowledge, the enemy of understanding, and the enemy of fairness to all.
What Are You Gonna Do?
In general, one cannot argue people out of religion. They don’t believe in facts or evidence. You can’t convince them emotionally either. Even religious people can’t convince other religious people of anything.
“When has one religion triumphed over another by debate, experiment and observation?” – Isaac Asimov
“The truths of religion are never so well understood as by those who have lost the power of reasoning.” — Voltaire
One cannot persecute people out of their religion. Historically, they have thrived on persecution.
The antidote for ignorance is knowledge. The antidote for superstition is science. If we promote science and knowledge, we are helping relieve our brothers and sisters of the burden of religion. The process may be painfully slow, but it’s the only way forward to a better future for all.
When I was in the military, there was a chaplain on every warship. It might have cannons, fighter planes, torpedoes or missiles, but it also had a chaplain!
Bertrand Russell: “The Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.”
(William Penn, Quaker leader) “To help mend this world is true religion.”
“Woe to him who makes neighbors work for nothing and does not give them their wages.” Jeremiah 22:13
You cannot serve God and mammon. Matthew 6:24
Marx: “Religious suffering is at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.” (1844. Quoted in Dallas Morning News 10/12/08 by Gregory Rodriguez making the point that Marx was against oppression, not against religion which is only a symptom of oppression)
Edwards, David: “The suggestion seems to emerge that man’s maturity coincides with his abandonment of religion.”