The Weekly Rant with Gary Patella

Thoughts and ideas on various grievances that are relevant to everyday life.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

On Religion

Religion has always been such a delicate topic. Otherwise rational people suddenly freak out when a person wishes to have a rational and logical discussion about religion. The main reason is that when logic and reason come into play, the conclusions that are reached do not favour any religion. And the topic has become delicate due to the extreme offense that so many people take when it comes to their faith. Someone merely asking questions and pointing out very obvious logical inconsistencies is immediately asked in an angry tone "Who are you to question my faith?" There are actually many people out there that question religion in general, but the majority remain silent on the issue. Experience has shown them that people do not take kindly to those that actually think about religious issues with logic.

As for me, there are plenty of people in this world that hate me already. So if I add a few more to that number with this rant, so be it. Now let's begin.

Religion always has and always will create many problems in the world. The supporters of religion claim that it is necessary in order to instill morals in people. But if that is true, then why do the non-religious people seem to have more morals and more principles than those that are religious? If it truly is religion that provides morals, one would think that the religious people would be more moral. There should be less rapes, homicides, robberies, and crimes in general committed by the religious. Yet the people that almost always commit these crimes follow some type of religion. Now it wouldn't be fair to simply make that statement without viewing percentages. After all, there are more religious people than non-religious. However, the percentages are far out of whack. While the percentages of major religions in populations pretty much mirror the percentages of those religions in prisons, the percentage of the non-religious in the population far outweighs the percentage of the non-religious in prison. While this does not show that religion causes crime, it still does show something significant: religion is neither necessary nor useful when it comes to morality.

Every religion has a dark past and most continue to have a dark present. Ancient religions regularly practiced animal sacrifice and human sacrifice. The Thuggee cult in India killed about two million people alone. There have been sacrifices of virgins to appease the gods in a wide variety of cultures and religions. And the atrocities committed against those that have a different belief system can be found throughout history. During the 1100's and 1200's there was a religious sect in France known as the Cathars. Pope Innocent III (ironic name) started a crusade against that sect in 1209. Then in 1232 Pope Gregory IX set up Inquisitions (religious courts) in southern France to complete the annihilation of the Cathars.

Other Inquisitions have occurred throughout history, with the Spanish Inquisition being famous for its crimes against humanity. The Italian Inquisition condemned Galileo Galilei for stating the findings through his telescope. Namely, that the Earth revolved around the Sun. For such "heresy" he was forced to retract his statement and was placed under house arrest for the remainder of his life. Sadly, the Inquisitions continued for a period of 400 years under papal authority.

Now we have terrorist bombings also in the name of religion. The problem is that people are very short-sighted. They may blame something on this religion or that religion. But it has never occurred to them that their own religion has probably resulted in many similar things over the years. Today it is one religion that commits some atrocities, tomorrow it will be another. It is religion in general that brainwashes people and causes them to commit unspeakable acts. Right now, Muslim extremists are the problem. A thousand years from now it may be extreme Scientologists or String Theorists. Religion in general is the problem.

But now let's have a look at the problems that are not obvious to everyone. A lot of people see the problems with religious killings, human sacrifices, priests molesting little boys, high church authorities protecting the child molesters, torture, burning "witches," and terrorism. But the obvious problems are not the only ones. Religion now infringes upon progress in general.

Political issues are still very much controlled by religion. No leader in any democracy can possibly be elected if he or she does not follow and claim to believe in a particular religion. Science has also been affected by religion. Scientific progress has been slowed down dramatically as a result of religion. In earlier years, any scientific truth would simply be condemned as heresy and the results usually did not favour the one who spoke the truth. Religion has been chosen over enlightenment throughout history. Nowadays, there are political sanctions on stem cell research. We are also regressing rather than progressing when it comes to other scientific matters. Evolution has so much evidence at this point, it is regarded as a well-established scientific fact. Yet we still have people teaching creationism in our schools. The Scopes trial took place 85 years ago, yet we are back to condemning evolution. This anti-scientific sentiment has never made sense to me. On the slim chance that some deity does exist, how could he or she get mad at the truth? This is logic I've never understood. Evolution exists, the age of the earth exists, and all scientific phenomena actually exist. If there is an almighty creator, then he or she created all of this. How is knowledge of such things evil? I never understood how that could be. But then again, religion is not friends with logic.

One slight point should be made concerning morals as well. I've already shown that religion cannot claim to bring about morality. It should also be noted that being immoral does not necessarily constitute a crime. And when it comes to these immoral yet law-abiding citizens, every single one of them that I've encountered has had a religion. Those that avoid religion have always been more likely to be good people.

In short, religion in general is not good. Science has been stopped at so many points along the way, it is clear that our society would be far more scientifically and technologically advanced if religion had not been stopping the progress throughout history. In the words of Thomas Paine, "Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst." He also said "All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit." I'm inclined to agree with him.

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