I have come to the conclusion that religion - especially the monotheisms of
Christianity and Islam (to a lesser degree Judaism) are a menace and a threat to
society, and dangerous to an individual. All religions are too - to varying degrees.
Religions are a form of discrimination. It's "us" and "them". It puts up an
artificial difference where there is no basic difference, such is the case with
religious discrimination, or age discrimination, or sexual discrimination. These
prejudices are used, misused, and abused to support war, fighting, terrorism,
and all of that. Of course, religion is not the real reason - economics almost
always is, and that is financial gain for the ruling class. It's easier to say,
"Kill the infidels!" or "Kill those Godless (whoever)!" than to say, "I, as
ruler, would like to expand my influence to the neighboring country. I would
like to take over their money and resources, and bring it to this country. I
will share it with my own ruling class, but you will get nothing for your
efforts." The former gets patriots. The second gets nothing except the ruler
thrown out of office.
More than that, by defining some things as wrong according to that religion,
they declare people who do such things as wrong - evil people, against God, who
must be eliminated from their midst - shunned, murdered, or utterly destroyed.
I'm not talking about crimes here that injure a particular person, or which the
society they live in has declared as crimes deserving punishment of some type,
but things which the religion calls "sins". These rules are then expected to be
followed by everyone in their midst - including those who may not believe in their
Religions can mask insanity. Simple: What is the difference between "God is
talking to me" and "My dog is talking to me"? Either is hearing voices which
others cannot hear. One is considered pious and a candidate for sainthood when
they die, and the other is the babbling of a psychotic killer. One is left alone
or even esteemed, the other put into a mental hospital and given potent drugs
for the rest of their life. The former can say, "God is talking to me and He
tells me to (kill the infidels)." See previous paragraph. What's the difference?
Religion can be used to excuse crime. If someone murders another, it's a
homicide. If someone murders another, and they say that they "had to" because
God didn't like (something about them - they're gay, they're committing
adultery, they were performing abortions (killing babies), etc), it's viewed as
having an excuse, and they may actually be acquitted.
Religion requires some people make careers out of it. They are paid for doing a
non-function. Unless, you consider providing religion to be entertainment, which
it can be but is a lot more insidious, pervasive, and life-altering than that.
Essentially, it is a tax.
Same with property used by religion, including churches, cloth, books, artwork,
finely-crafted items, gold, silver. musical instruments, and so forth. These
buildings and personal property are taken out of common usage by the church,
take someone's time to make them, and are unused for anything used by the
religion. It is horrific for there to be a finely built church, richly decorated
with finely-carved hardwood fixtures, handcrafted stone decorations, beautiful
stained glass, fine woolen robes, gold and silver, when the area surrounding it
is filled with hungry, desperately-poor, unclothed, cold, starving people. Why
not sell off the gold, and instead of building a beautiful marble church, build
a community well, aqueduct, or grain elevator? Why not have the priest working
in a trade or as a merchant to improve the lot of the community, instead of
telling them that they are poor, and GREAT rewards are in store for them in
Heaven? In some nations of the world, including the United States of America,
these churches, everything in them, and all donations to them are tax exempt on
the premise that they are a charity. Meanwhile, only a tiny amount of the money
so donated actually goes to charitable functions - like feeding the hungry, caring
for orphans, housing the homeless, providing basic or general education, and
so forth. Most of it goes for the Church and to pay its employees. This is not
charity, but rather paying for one's own community entertainment, or possibly
something much more threatening. What I was told once, “You won't learn
anything bad in a church.” has been proven to me time and again to be utterly
false – dangerously so, and in some cases, life-threateningly so.
Then, insist upon being tax exempt in all of their riches, all of their holdings,
all that is given to the church or spent on its behalf. This exemption is given by
consent of the majority of people in the USA, and a few other countries. Doesn't
a church get the same police and fire protection as any other building in the
community? That is paid for by all the people in the community, including the ones
who do not support that religion. In some areas, their church (or megachurch),
being exempt from zoning laws, is built and attracts such a crowd that it creates
a traffic problem, for which everyone has to put in wider roads, traffic lights,
and so forth.
Then, to top it off, they publish "voter guides", and preach on political
topics. This is against the law for a tax exempt organization to do, but they do
it anyway. The IRS has stated that it will not enforce this law. Thus, only the
honest, and law-abiding follow it. The ones who have something they really
want passed or not-passed will view it as their duty to flaunt the law, since it
is “God's will”. Doesn't the will of the people count more in a democracy?
Religion can be used by nations and societies to commit atrocities - stoning of
adulteresses (like in the middle east), killing disabled people who accidentally
destroy passages of their book, killing unruly children, burning witches,
genocides of Jews. and so forth. The cruel treatment/abuse of children
by their religious parents or religious schools. No one in their right mind
would approve of these things if it weren't for someone saying "God wants it",
and somehow convincing others of it. In other regards, it can be used to create
laws mandating adherence to the religion for nonbelievers - laws against
homosexuality, laws against poly-marriages (why is marriage limited to 1-man
1-woman other than religion?), laws against selling alcohol or gambling on
Sunday, laws against (some) businesses being open on Sunday, and on and on. If I
don't believe in your religion, why pass laws forcing me to follow its rules?
Religion can be, and often has been, used to stifle the progression of society.
Religion gets into science, and refutes it. It might even kill or imprison the
scientist if the scientist has evidence that differs from their bronze-age
mythical book. At best, it can marginalize true scientific research, not funding
it, not allowing what has been published to "see the light of day", hamper
scientists from discussing the issue with their peers in other places, or even
scientists working for a different organization, who have different understandings,
study, or different a-priori beliefs. Scientific understandings may be refined,
modified, or changed over time, if sufficient new evidence - including research,
testing, other studies done differently, are done, published, and peer reviewed.
Religion digs in its heels and insists that the world operates according to this
book, and wastes time and resources implementing any of those discoveries, utterly
refuses to allow them to be implemented, or even refuses to permit them to be
researched. Religion gets in the way of medical research and refuses to even look
at using certain things in science (e.g., stem cell research which is promising
as a treatment for many conditions) because they believe their religion says
something about it is wrong. You can get stem cells from many sources, but the
ones coming from blastocysts of about 150 cells, which the decision is otherwise
made to create then destroy, are the most promising to medical research.
Laws are passed which prohibit any study of, or discussion of, climate science -
including sea-level rise - which is an observable fact. This will not prevent it
from happening, but on the contrary, discourage research which might prevent it,
slow it down, predict its progression, which would allow those directly effected
to plan to adapt their lives and activities accordingly.
Religion makes its rules about the teaching of the young - and insist that
everyone be taught those things - even nonbelievers in that religion. They
insist that creationism be taught as science, they insist that biology be taught
in a ridiculous mythical way, they insist that geology or astronomy be taught
according to those rules. In one state, they have declared that teaching critical
thinking undermines parental authority! It's true that children should do what
they are told by their parents, for the most part, but it's the duty of parents
and everyone else charged with the duty of educating children to teach them to
be autonomous members of the society which they live in. In a democracy, this
necessitates critical thinking to make the best choices at the ballot. Critical
thinking is what enables the next generation of innovators to question the way
something has always been done, possibly to discover a better way. This is called
progress - and having a child who has made a significant improvement to technology
or to a means of production is something to be proud of. It doesn't undermine
them in the slightest.
This effects any society that lets religion make the rules of all of its members
because there are other societies that make no such rules. They can progress. New
inventions will continue to be made, better means of production will be developed,
better means of providing for their citizens will be made.
They will progress farther and faster. Eventually, these technologically-superior
societies will develop the military weapons and strategies to take over the land
and resources of the mythologically-impaired one, possibly kill, possibly enslave,
possibly re-educate its people - for good or for bad. Nonetheless, it's their rulers
who have it. Their atheistic rulers will use words like "backwards" and "helping
those poor superstitious (people) improve their lives." If they are less benevolent,
they will regard these poor, superstitious people as little more than an inferior
race of wild animals to be destroyed or enslaved.
Religion, at best, is a huge waste of time and resources. At worst, it could directly lead to the outright destruction of mankind. It creates disasters where there need be no such disaster because it could have been averted. It stifles the development of the individual as well as the progression of technology and society. It leads to a great deal of suffering where it is directly avoidable.