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Why You're Wrong: Organized Religion

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Antitheists of the World, Unite!

Seeing as how I'm in the extreme minority on this issue, this must be my greatest effort to date. Here goes nothing.

What I Mean

Before you read on, I must clarify: I am not against people believing in God. While I am a strong atheist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strong_atheism), I cannot prove or disprove the existance of God and I do not force those particular beliefs on people. So if you believe in God, that's fine with me. I don't share your views on the matter, but I am not going to try to actively change your opinions on the subject. Now, onto the juicy part.

Seen Here: The Anti-Semitism Born of the First Crusade

This illustration, taken from a 1250's French Bible, depicts Crusaders killing Jews. This "tradition" started with the Frist Crusade, and is yet another reason why organized religion sucks balls.

The Juicy Part

Since many of my points might be obvious to some of you, I'll do it in a point-counterpoint type method. This way, if you already know the counterpoint against my hypothetical believer's point, you can skip that bit of writing and move on to the next one.

 

1. "Look: God created all morality. Without organized religion, we would all be killing each other and raping everything in sight! Do you really want that, Dr. Hatefulstein?"

 

First of all, that's not my real name. People don't use their real names in porn flicks.

Second of all, you are a fool. Morality evolved so that the species could survive. If people didn't have a basic sense of right and wrong, then there would be very few humans indeed: it would be anarchy, and we've already discussed how wrong THAT idea is. There is plenty of evidence for my point; take primates for example. Some primate species display altruism and defined senses of right and wrong. Would God imbue them with such qualities? If you believe in Intelligent Design (another shitty idea), then you can say "yes" in accordance with your beliefs. However, if you know anything, then the answer must be no, and that evolution of such traits enabled the primates to live better in groups a.k.a. societies. Morality, like eyesight and opposable thumbs, is an evolutionary tool for survival.

Thirdly, are you saying that if somehow God's existence was completely disproved that you would become amoral? In other words, would you start behaving without morals? Do you only behave morally because God is watching you and will punish you if you do otherwise? If so, you have two flaws: first, God obviously knows if you are legitimately moral since he is omniscient (assuming he exists), and second, your whole system of morals and ethics is a scam. If you only behave morally because God is watching you, you aren't really moral at all. Also, people who have never known religion in all their lives are moral.  How is that possible if morals are a direct consequence of religion? They have never learned Biblical morals, yet they share our universal morals (some morals vary by culture). If you answer is that God imparted us with morals from birth, then what is the reason for religion? If people have morality built into their brain by God (or by biology, which is what I believe), then why do they need to learn about religion or be religious?

Lastly, do you believe that atheists are immoral people? If you do, I would advise you to spend less time with your head up your ass. It's just not sanitary. Also, if this were true, wouldn't only atheists go to jail, or at least wouldn't there be a high percentage of atheists in jail? But no, this is not the case: about 10% of Americans are atheists, yet they only make up .091% of inmates in Federal prisons as of 2000. http://www.abarnett.demon.co.uk/atheism/crimechart.html .

All I'm saying is that religion needs morality, but morality doesn't need religion.

 

2. "Organized Religion gives people something to believe in. It gives life meaning."

 

Wow, shut the fuck up. Are you saying that my life has no meaning? It clearly does, or else I would be a shell of a man. Look, people give their own lives meaning. Whether or not they choose to adopt a religious meaning is their choice, but just because you did doesn't mean it's the only way. Also, there are people who are religous but find meaning in life in something else. So for some people, your point is correct, but only partly so. The actual belief in a higher power is what gives some peoples' lives meaning, not the specific organized religion that they're in. That's why I am not opposed to Theism in general, but only to more specific types of religion (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, etc). Life meaning should not be forced on anyone, especially not by organized religions.

 

3. "Dude, just let people practice how they want. If people want to have organized religions, they should be able to."

 

Indeed. But wait, I want to stand in the middle of an intersection and stop all traffic. (Note how I am using an example of something that is not immoral, but is still not something good.) Should I be able to do that? No, because it clearly causes many problems. Well, organized religion is like that: people can practice it if they want to, but they really shouldn't. Why? I'll tell you, but be prepared for a lot of reading.

There are two great examples of why organized religion is a horrible plague on society: The Crusades, and Terrorism. I'll start with the first, because in part it builds to the second. The Crusades were a series of wars fought by the Catholics of Europe (Protestantism hadn't been invented yet) against the Muslims of the Middle East. The Christians' goal was to take back the Holy Land of Judea/Israel from the "godless" Muslims. In fact, there were multiple crusades, some with different goals, and each one was a horrible bloody mess. Without organized religion, there would have been no crusades. (As an aside, the First Crusade also started the tradition of pogroms and organized violence against Jews. Talk about killing two birds with one stone.)

Now, this crusading business birthed a bit of hostility between the Muslims and the Christians from the West. In fact, the impression was so big that it fueled anti-Western thought in the East for the past 1000 or so years. The end product of this? Terrorism. Now, the terrorists aren't explicitly anti-Christian, but since the Western world is in large part Christian, it is reminiscent of the crusades. (Again, the terrorists also enact violence against the Jews of Israel, but that's another debate for another day.) Without the radical clerics of Islam, there would be no terrorism in the way we think of it, a.k.a. 9/11 and the War on Terror in Afghanistan and Iraq. Of course, some terrorist organizations are not religiously based (ETA in France and Spain, Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka), but many are (the IRA and UDA, Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, etc). And so my main point is revealed: organized religion does more harm than good. Sure it gives people certain (but not all) moral laws to live by (opposition to gay marriage and abortion), but it only causes strife when faced with differing opinions. Even if the whole world practiced one religion, surely sects would emerge and divide the worldwide congregation. So instead of trying to agree on one religion, let's agree on none at all.

 

Note: Deism is a fine exception to my general antitheism. Deism in the way I mean it is a general belief in God without other specific dogmas. The mere belief in God does not cause problems; only the strict ideas of organized religions do.