That Bad Ole Religion

I’m pretty sure I’ve ridiculed the notion of religion being the cause of most of the world’s suffering on this blog at some point. But maybe not. I know I’ve done it elsewhere.

Here’s one of my recent comments at another blog:

The world is full of idiots, and I frankly don’t believe that eliminating religion would put a dent in the idiocy level. Stupid is stupid. Ignorant is ignorant. Remove religion and people will rally behind something else to validate and support their idiocy.

It’s popular to get on the bandwagon that the world would be a so much better place if we just got rid of religion. John Lennon, a dude whose musical and philosophical talents I greatly admire, suggested as much in the lyrics of “Imagine.”

But, it just ain’t so.

Eliminating religion won’t help. Ideologies that lack a god but establish the same programs (or even pogroms, for that matter) would simply fill the void. The world will not become more enlightened by removing religion because the world will still be full of “sheeple” who need and want to be led and who don’t want to think.

Sure, I get that religion is often a tool of repression and restraint. And here is another comment I tossed out recently on that point:

Let’s not blame the basic religion for the millions of idiots who misinterpret, misapply and misunderstand it while purporting to uphold it.

I just don’t get the “religion has been misused so let’s toss it out” argument.

  • Economics are misused and employed in ways to oppress the masses, but that doesn’t make capitalism (or socialism for that matter) inherently evil. Anyone want to throw out all the money and elminate our economies? No? Didn’t think so.
  • Cars are deadly machines and often improperly used. So, is the answer to get rid of cars? Yeah, I hear a lot of silence there, too.
  • Half or more of the marriages in the United States end in divorce. Are we to take away from that figure that monogamy is inherently flawed? Some would argue that, but most would not.

In fact, going back to the first example in my list, I would argue that economics is one of the major sources of evil and persecution and war and assorted other nastiness in the world—moreso, in fact, than is religion.

The desire for power and land and putting ones enemies under one’s feet is a basic human desire, and exists independently of religion. Yes, religion can be used to bolster such desires and justify them, but that almost always requires the tenets of a religion to be twisted to that purpose.

And yes, religion is also used by people who just want to shut the world out and want a spiritual pacifier to suck on. So what? Can’t we say the same about television much of the time? That’s why it’s been called the “glass teat” or the “boob tube.”

And yes, religious differences cause tension and even violence. But so do racial differences and ethnic differences and political differences. And, in the end, they are usually just excuses anyway. And never mind any of the good things religion and spirituality have done; those are insignificant, the naysayers will tell you.

Somehow, when you talk about the positive messages of religion, or the values they can instill, the people who are so down on religion will tell you, Those things can be gotten by just being decent humans. You don’t need religion for that.” Yet if you point out that human nature is what causes most of the problems in the world, independent of religion (since many so-called “religious” people who start wars or destroy lives or cash in workers’ retirement accounts to buy corporate jets rarely are all that faith-filled or church-going),  those same people will cling to the argument that religion has caused more problems than anything else. Suddenly, human nature is something they want to downplay so that they can blame religion for usurping our better nature and making us do nasty things. Instead of “The devil made me do” it becomes “religion makes us do it.”

So, in the end, I’m going to be blunt.

If you’re going to argue that religion just needs to go by the wayside because it causes too much trouble, you’re being an idiot. Because you’re obviously giving a pass to many other things in the world that do way more damage.

7 thoughts on “That Bad Ole Religion

  1. scaryreasoner

    Religion needs to abandoned because it is just plain idiotic, and obviously made up.

    This is exasperatingly obvious to anyone of reasonable intelligence who was not brainwashed into it as a child.

    Such a person cannot help but scream out, “you IDIOTS!”

    Because that’s what the religious people so very obviously are, without exception.

    I”m completely serious. There is not a single non-idiotic argument for religion. Not one. Every single religious person, withotu exception becomes an idiot the instant they defend their religion and fail to reject it for the completely obvious reasons.

  2. Deacon Blue

    Wow, no bigotry toward the religious set, eh?

    Well, I don’t see any particular reason to argue with you because, unlike a person with an actual brain, you don’t leave any room for discussion. I don’t remember the precise quote, but I seem to recall someone cool once said that the mark of intelligence is the ability to consider two completely opposing thoughts and take them seriously without your head exploding. Massive paraphrase, but it’s the jist of it.

    But clearly, you’re not interested in discussion about the value of faith, even from a position of doubt.

    Which makes me wonder, why the hell are you here?

    No, no…don’t answer that. You’re an idiot. So just go away. Thanks.

  3. The First Domino

    “Be very, very careful what you put into your head, because you will never, ever get it out.”
    –Thomas Cardinal Wolsey, 1471-1530.

    I have many quarrels with religion, but, on the whole, I think it serves a real purpose: Religion is our way of understanding God.

    This is both good and bad. Good in that religion states the existence of God, and gives us the tools (think Holy writ) to make Him real in our lives. Bad in that it insists that it has The Answers (the last word, so to speak) on God–what God needs, and what we must do in order to please Him, and that we must belong to a certain religion, or a certain church, and adhere to certain rituals and practices in order to curry God’s favor, and, after death, to be accepted into Heaven, His Holy Presence.

    It’s Religion’s proprietary claim to all Truth and all Knowledge regarding God, and His Divine Nature, precluding further discoveries, further Truths, and further Knowledge, as though there’s nothing more to know and learn–that chills my spirit.

    It’s the rare individual, once taught in a certain fashion regarding God, who will find the strength of spirit to “hunger and thirst after righteousness,” once she has been filled to satiety. I submit that the hungering and thirsting bring more blessings than being filled for all times.

    Let me boldly, and reverently state it this way: Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness again and again, for they shall be filled again, and again.

    I like to think that this is what Jesus had it in mind as well, when he stated this beatitude.

    Wolsey is right–once in the head, it becomes almost impossible to “get it out.”

    Your blog entry is very persuasive, and I concur with what you have said: we need not eliminate religion; and although it has been used for less than holy purposes, it is not alone in this, as you have pointed out:

    “And yes, religious differences cause tension and even violence. But so do racial differences and ethnic differences and political differences. And, in the end, they are usually just excuses anyway. And never mind any of the good things religion and spirituality have done; those are insignificant, the naysayers will tell you.”


  4. hawa

    I truly loved this post. And since “the love of money is at the root of all evil,” your tentative conclusion that economics has done more to harm humanity than religion makes perfectly good sense.

    I used to laugh at racist whites with bumper stickers and t-shirts about all Blacks leaving America. They hold a dangerous belief that if Blacks left the country, all would be well for Whites and all would prosper in a state of bliss. Problem is, as you highlight in your post, those ignorant Whites have serious emotional flaws that they dump on Blacks. Blacks aren’t the problem and never were. The country would probably fall into even more chaos as Whites were forced into horrifying self-discovery and found reasons to hate and blame each other.

  5. Deacon Blue

    Eloquent as always, Domino.

    And Hawa, I have to say that I’ve always harbored a fantasy that the U.S. government would just set aside a whole hunk of the country for black folks and let them create their own country here…not so that we can be separatist and segregated, but because I think it would be so humorous to watch the more bigoted people in white America try to figure out why things didn’t suddenly get better in “white” America, while the black folks make what I think would be a nicely functioning economy that, no doubt, white America would be forced to do major business with and probably end up in hock to like it is to so much of the world already.

  6. Deacon Blue

    I was wondering why my head felt slightly more crowded than usual.

    Seriously, though, Big Man, if my derreire finds itself in New Orleans anytime in the foreseeable future, I’m treating you to lunch or something.


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