Religion is so diverse, so many different varieties. Some are incredibly aggressive and invasive, others more benign and gentle. Some are exclusive, others inclusive. I could go on, but you get the idea. I was contemplating the effects that drugs have on people and society and the classification system government uses to evaluate risk, and it dawned on me: We need a method of evaluating religion that considers it's effect on people and society.
Yeah, think about this. Some religions are like marijuana, fairly harmless in modest amounts. Never connected with any violence or mayhem, pot smokers are rather innocuous. The Unitarians come to mind here. At the other extreme we have methamphetamine, the scourge of rural America. Some groups represented here might be Westborro Baptist or perhaps Pentecostal. Rabid and frightening with their wildfire effect on people and society.
Of course religion is dimensional, not linear. But this system still works. Heroin addicts can live functional lives for years. They often have normal families and jobs. They could be your neighbor and you would never know. I'm thinking Catholic here. Time honored and respectable. Often connected with organized crime. Let's roll with this!

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Comment by Steven Nunn on August 14, 2009 at 6:25pm
Owhhh, I like that idea! And plenty of material to work with. Yes! I see the light, and it's red.
Comment by Steven Nunn on August 12, 2009 at 1:33am
oooohhhh! whew, I feel much better now.
Comment by D'Holbach on August 12, 2009 at 12:23am
I'm really anal, so I changed "serotonin" to "dopamine."
Comment by Steven Nunn on August 12, 2009 at 12:13am
What changed? Somethings going haywire here. Or is it me? Oh no, it's happening. They found me! I'm not going back without a fight.
Comment by D'Holbach on August 11, 2009 at 9:29pm
That's quite a conversation you're having with yourself.

I think that there probably is an addictive nature to religion--it undoubtedly triggers feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine, quite a few people depend on it, many who leave the fold suffer from withdrawal, and too much of the wrong kind of religion can be deadly. A scale such as the one you've proposed would, no doubt, be a useful tool to assess the level of risk that various religions pose to society.

It's also true that other forms of love and support might render religion/drugs unnecessary: a good family, friendship, universal health care, etc. To get society to "kick the habit," perhaps we need to think about ways of replacing religion with something positive. Bare atheism strikes many as too bleak, and they are unwilling to stop "cold turkey."

On a related note, reason alone convinces very few people to abandon their beliefs--some will change their minds after a reasonable debate, but most will not. In the same way, it's very difficult to persuade someone to quit hard drugs simply because it's the reasonable thing to do. Feelings, on the other hand, are far more persuasive. So we need to think about ways not just to get people "off" of the religion drug but of giving them something else to live for (e.g., education, which can give them goals to pursue; fellowship, so that they have someone else to live for) as well as something else that will make them feel secure (e.g. health care).
Comment by D'Holbach on August 3, 2009 at 11:58pm
Thanks for your reply, Steven. By the way, my tongue was only partly in my cheek--I meant most of what I said.
Comment by Steven Nunn on August 3, 2009 at 8:20pm
Your singing to the choir, brother. I love your rich baritone. That self-promotion trick worked like a charm. Wow.

Actually you raised a few good points, and a caveat. I loved your continuation of the analogy between drugs and religion, although tongue in cheek the similarities are remarkable. And the "other forms of support" stuff is spot on. Most people are drawn to drugs (and religion) because somethings not right in their life and it fills a void. Really, what happy, adjusted person turns to these devices or even wants them. Sure, recreational use of drugs (and religion) is common, but most folks can walk away with ease. They recognize it's an anomaly and don't put much stock in it. Dependent people don't.

Your last paragraph brings to mind something I read: "Most people won't argue with their data, but they sure will with yours". Your conclusion is beautiful.

Ahh, the caveat: "This post is for entertainment purposes only, all opinions are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect any facet of reality.
Comment by Nate on August 3, 2009 at 6:12pm
Yes. Different religions pose different threats to our wellbeing.


Some Christian sects may harm children by repressing individuality and sexuality and fostering feelings of guilt. We can agree that that's negative. Those born into some Islamic communities may face the threat of death for apostasy or homosexuality. A woman in such a community may face beatings from her husband sanctioned by clerics. She may also be prohibited from leaving the home unescorted by a family member. Under Islam, the emotional damage is compounded by the threat of violence to one's person and perpetual harassment.

Religions are not all equally dangerous.
Comment by Steven Nunn on August 3, 2009 at 5:25pm
And illiterate! It's YOU"RE not YOUR before the unpopular part. Also that looks like a 70's haircut to me. What's that in your hand, anyway?
Comment by Steven Nunn on August 3, 2009 at 5:16pm
Steven, I like your idea. I would love to comment on this, but nobody is reading this post. Really, why bother if your so unpopular nobody visits your blog? I think it's your deodorant. Buy something stronger. Oh, and that hair, please! The 60's are so gone.

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