Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Protecting religion is a problem.

   In a previous post, I discussed how religion is unnecessary at best. This time, I want to discuss the social problems I see that amplify the negative parts of religion.

   In that last post, I mentioned the story of Noah's Ark, in which Yahweh commits mass murder because people are wicked and how it can be concluded that killing wicked people is good. Then all you have to do is declare a group of people (Jews, gays, atheists, Muslims, etc.) to be wicked to justify killing them. What I had not discussed is how this story is told to children. Now I realize many children are not going to draw the conclusion that killing wicked people is acceptable; they are going to be much more interested in the pretty animals on the big boat. And likely the adults telling them the story are going to focus on those aspects as well. But the fact that a justification for killing people is present in the story is still a problem as someone can potentially pick up on it, even if it is a small percentage of people who do.

   To be blunt (and to take the focus off of Christianity), the biggest problem with religion is that it is often authoritarian. If someone thinks their god(s) wants something, then they'll likely do what they think their god(s) wants! This can be very beneficial if they think their god(s) want them to do good things...give to charity, treat people equally, etc. However, beliefs like this can have an equal impact if and when they think their god(s) want them to do bad things, like kill supposedly wicked people. And, as I have been implying, they think these bad things are actually good because they believe their god(s) to be good. Thus anything that god(s) wants is also good. (See also: The Holy Hair Dryer)

   The reason, then, that protecting religion becomes a problem is because people don't generally need justification to do things that are actually good. Someone can attribute their desire for giving to charity, treating people equally, etc. to a god(s) all they want, but they will be praised regardless. In other words, such people will be respected for doing good. Period. Invoking religion is unnecessary. On the other hand, people do need justification for doing things that are bad. This is because many people will condemn them for doing their misdeeds. When you then have a society that embraces religion, using religion as a justification, whether or not that is truly the reason, for misdeeds becomes an open path.

   On that, many of the excuses to defend religion are quite pathetic. The most common that I see is the one I eluded to in that previous post. It is the idea that the bad people are a small minority and/or that those people "misrepresent" religion. Being blunt once more — No, they don't "misrepresent" religion. As I implied above, religion can be many things. Just because one person attributes religion to good things does not mean the next person cannot attribute it to bad things...especially when the scriptures for the religion promote cruelty, as in the Noah's Ark example. Another way to say this is that there is no objective*, or correct, approach to religion. After all (bluntness alert!), there is no good reason to believe the gods that any religion promotes actually exist and there is much more reason to believe religion is all made up. People are then free to make up the way in which they want to follow the religion. Therefore, religion can be whatever anyone wants it to be. They have free range to make additional shit up. To then suggest that someone using that free range to cause harm is somehow misusing or misrepresenting religion is absurd.

   Of course, defenders of religion don't notice this absurdity. Why? I suspect it is because they think religion should be one way — theirs! They have this idea of what they think religion should be instead of what it really is. And it is then the idea of what they think religion should be that they defend as opposed to defending reality. This, perhaps more than anything I have already mentioned, is the largest problem with protecting religion — people are not trying to protecting religion as it really is, but rather their fantastical idea of religion. Since that fantastical idea doesn't actually permeate outside their minds, what they end up defending is religion as it actually is...which should not be defended.

* There are perhaps points where one can deviate so much from what is in the scripture of a religion that, even though it would still be subjective, a consensus could be reached that a religious view does indeed "misrepresent" the core religion. An example of this could be Mormonism, particularly if that religion had no additional scripts to explain itself. At the same time, Mormonism is also a great example that shows — if one's views begin to stray too far from the core religion — it is possible to write additional scriptures to justify a large deviation.

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