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.