Is religion a force of evil in the world?
Debate Rounds (1)
Religion comes from the period of human prehistory where the bawling and fearful infancy of our species, and is a babyish attempt to meet our inescapable demand for knowledge (as well as for comfort, reassurance, and other infantile needs). Why do religious people look so forward to the annihilation of everyone? That seems to be so callous and inhuman.
Faith is the surrender of the mind; it"s the surrender of reason, it"s the surrender of the only thing that makes us different from other mammals. It"s our need to believe, and to surrender our skepticism and our reason, our yearning to discard that and put all our trust or faith in someone or something, that is the sinister thing to me. Of all the supposed virtues, faith must be the most overrated.
Now of the commandments, the first two or three are entirely about fearing the author of the audits, entirely about being terrified of someone you"re enjoined to love. I don"t know about you, but the idea of compulsory love has always struck me as a bit shady, especially if you"re ordered to love someone who you absolutely must fear. So, the first three are: look out for me, and keep at least one day of my way or you"ll be terrified full-time.
Is it too modern to notice that there is nothing [in the 10 commandments] about the protection of children from cruelty, nothing about rape, nothing about slavery, and nothing about genocide? Or is it too exactingly "in context" to notice that some of these very offenses are about to be positively recommended?
is it moral to believe that your sins, can be forgiven by the punishment of another person? Is it ethical to believe that? I would submit that the doctrine of vicarious redemption by human sacrifice is utterly immoral. I might, if I wished, even if I didn't know you but I just loved the idea of you (compulsory love is another sickly element of Christianity), I could say if I really loved someone who had been sentenced to prison if I say I'd serve your sentence, but I can't take away your responsibilities. I can't forgive what you did, I can't say you didn't do it, I can't make you washed clean. The name for that in primitive middle eastern society was "scapegoating." You pile the sins of the tribe on a goat, you drive that goat into the desert to die of thirst and hunger. And you think you've taken away the sins of the tribe. This is a positively immoral doctrine that abolishes the concept of personal responsibility on which all ethics and all morality must depend.
It has a further implication. I'm told that I have to have a share in this human sacrifice even though it took place long before I was born. I have no say in it happening, I wasn't consulted about it. No, no, I'm implicated in it, I, myself, drove in the nails, I was present at Calvary, it confirms the original filthy sin in which I was conceived and born, the sin of Adam in Genesis. Again, this may sound a mad belief, but it is the Christian belief. Well it's here that we find something very sinister about monotheism and about religious practice in general: It is incipiently at least, and I think often explicitly, totalitarian. I have no say in this. I am born under a celestial dictatorship which I could not have had any hand in choosing. I don't put myself under its government. I am told that it can watch me while I sleep. I'm told that it can convict me of"here's the definition of totalitarianism"thought crime, for what I think I may be convicted and condemned. And that if I commit a right action, it's only to evade this punishment and if I commit a wrong action, I'm going to be caught up not just with punishment in life for what I've done which often follows axiomatically, but, no, even after I'm dead. In the Old Testament, gruesome as it is, recommending as it is of genocide, racism, tribalism, slavery, genital mutilation, in the displacement and destruction of others.
Only toward when Jesus, makes his appearance are those who won't accept the message told they must depart into everlasting fire. Is this morality, is this ethics? I submit not only is it not, not only does it come with the false promise of vicarious redemption, but it is the origin of the totalitarian principle which has been such a burden and shame to our species for so long. I further think that it undermines us in our most essential integrity. It dissolves our obligation to live and witness in truth.
If you"re going to be a serious grown-up person, and appear to defend religion mainly catholic church, you simply have to start by making a great number of heartfelt apologies and requests for contrition and forgiveness. Now you might ask. You"re fully entitled to ask, who am I to say that? Well, in the jubilee millennium year of 2000 the Vatican spokesman Bishop Piero Marini said, explaining a whole sermon of apology given by His Holiness the Pope, given the number of sins we"ve committed in the course of twenty centuries, reference to them must necessarily be rather summary. Well I think Bishop Marini had that just about right, I"ll have to be summary, too. His Holiness on that occasion"it was March the 12th, 2000, begged forgiveness for, among some other things, the crusades, the Inquisition, the persecution of the Jewish people, in justice towards women, that"s half the human race right there, and the forced conversion of indigenous peoples, especially in South America, the African slave trade, the admission that Galileo was right, and for silence during Hitler"s Final Solution or Shoah. And it doesn"t end there, there are smaller but significant"equally significant"avowals of a very bad conscience. These have included regret for the rape and torture of orphans and other children in church-run schools in almost every country on Earth, from Ireland to Australia. These are very serious matters, and they"re not to be laughed off by the references to the occasional work of Catholic charities. I think that there will be an apology for what happened in Rwanda, the most Catholic country in Africa, where priests and nuns and bishops are on trial, for inciting from their pulpits and on the Church"s and radio stations the massacre of their brothers and sisters. Staying in Africa, I think it will one day be admitted with shame that it might have been in error to say that AIDS is bad as a disease, but not quite as bad as condoms are bad, or not as immoral in the same way.
If God exists, we have to do what he says, if he doesn't, we can do what we like. Now just apply this in practice and theory. Is it not said of God's chosen people and is it not said to them by God in the Pentateuch that they can do exactly as they like to other people? They can enslave them, they can take their land, they can take their women, they can destroy all their young men, they can help themselves to all their virgins, they can do what anyone who had no sense of anything but their own rights would be able to do, but in this case with divine permission. Doesn't that make it somewhat more evil?
On the empirical evidence, so-called adduced, that a religious faith can lead to greater health and well-being, I, in a sense, do not doubt it. In other words, I can easily imagine those who think they are the special object of a divine design, feel better for thinking so. If you're going to claim this for one, how are you not going to claim it for all? Do we not hear incessantly that the Hamas organization in Gaza is a provider of welfare to the poorest of the poor? For all I know, it's true. It not only says nothing about the validity of their theology, but it must say a certain amount at least about our willingness to think wishfully,They say "Don't judge religion by its fundamentalists and its extremists." No, why should I? I don't have to. I judge it by its foundational texts and I judge it by the statements of its authorities. Take a case from the Muslim foundational documents, the Hadith, which have equal conical authority. They say if someone becomes an apostate, leaves or changes their religion, they must be killed. The sentence is death. Don't anyone be telling me that's a metaphor.
Back to the cure for poverty--It eluded people for a long time--is called the empowerment of women. If you give women some control over the rate at which they reproduce, if you give them some say, take them off the animal cycle of reproduction to which nature and some religious doctrine condemns them, and then if you'll throw in a handful of credit, the floor of everything in that village, not just poverty, but education, health, and optimism will increase. Try it in Bangladesh, try it in Bolivia, it works. Name me one religion that stands for that. Wherever you look in the world and you try to remove the shackles of ignorance and disease stupidity from women, it's invariably the clericy that stands in the way.
Divine permission given to people who think they have God is on their side enables actions that a normal, morally normal unbeliever would not contemplate. The mutilation of genitalia of children, who would do that if it wasn't decided that God wanted it? Morally normal and intelligent people find themselves saying fatuously wicked things when this subject comes up. The suicide bombing community is entirely faith based. The genital mutilation community is entirely faith based. Slavery is mandated by the Bible.
I ask you, 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.
Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it. Take the risk of thinking for yourself, much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way.
Religion is in fact the opposite of evil in this world. The fact that you should fear Allah (SWT) or G-d is the same as the fact that you should fear the police because you would get punished for doing bad things... One more thing, the Quran doesn't encourage the killing of apostates, as (Verse 18:29) says: "whoever wills, let him believe, and, whoever wills, let him disbelieve."
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