Why I don’t like religion.
I am not a religious person and I can fervidly say I despise religious dogma. I think that religion has caused a lot of harm, from instilling wars to corrupting young minds and exploiting the vulnerable. Many denominations of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Scientology etc have brainwashed people, deepening both their ignorance and arrogance, enclosing and narrowing their mind through homophobic, sexist and racist ideas (just to name a few). And in most cases it’s not the religious text themselves that are at fault but the churches themselves that discourage independent research and constructive criticism. Moreover, some of the most arduous preachers I have met have been some of the most hypocritical as well, that don’t practice what they preach and seem to always find themselves as exceptions to the rules they cherish so much.(when it comes adultery and violence just to name a few)
Now, do I think should religion be eradicated? Definitely not. Do I hate religious people? Not in the slightest. Do I think we can learn from religion? Most certainly, and here’s why:
Why I don’t hate religion
Now as I’ve said, I met many hard-headed narrow minded religious people but also met some of the kindest, most helpful and open minded ones as well and I had a lot to learn from them. I learned a lot from Christians (be it Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant or Mormons), Muslims (Sunnis, Shias, Suffis), Buddhists (Theravada and Mayahama), Hindus, Tenrikyo-followers, Baha’is and still have a lot more to meet and learn from them. I don’t like the concept of religion because it can be used as a vile tool but as it can equally have a positive impact on people’s lives I can’t say I hate it. We can’t just put all religions and all the acts commited under religious dogma under the same tag as that will be unfair on the virtuous religious folks.
Now most non-religious people I’ve met or have come into discussions with have really strong opinions on why they hate religion and how it’s the worst and the most disgusting concept to ever plague this earth. And to be fair they bring valid and strong arguments to support their claims [most of them with which I agree] amongst which homophobia, sexism, violence instigation, brainwashing etc.
However, what I don’t agree with is with their solution to it. And they mostly fall into 2 categories: 1) they don’t have one, nor do they want to think about one and 2) eradicate religion altogether. None of these 2 make any sense nor are they helpful. 1) because as long as you’ll just whine about things with no action your whining is just redundant and fatalistic and you won’t manage to bring any change and 2) just doesn’t make any sense as it would be impossible.
What’s there to do about religion?
Many people fail to grasp how religion has and is still a big part of our civilization as human beings. Religion has accompanied us from the very beginning of our civilization and offered guidelines (both good and bad) on how to organize ourselves, cooperate and advance. Just think about religion’s role in creating the 7-day week with 5 (or 6) working days and the 7th for rest. (as creation says) or the Gregorian Calendar, basing our Era on Jesus Christ’s date of birth (BC, AD) (this is widely accepted, there still are, of course, cultures where different calendars or working week systems are being used). And these are only a couple of things that have become so embedded in our culture that we don’t even realize. And just how Christianity has influenced Western culture so has Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism influenced Eastern one. (again, culturally the world is not limited to West vs East, there’s a North and South as well, and they’re not entirely homogeneous, I know, but that is a far more complex discussion)
And how did religion evolve or where did it come from? Some would say it was a message from a higher power, I would say it came from our continuous sought for answers. When science could not answer our questions, religion came in to fill the gaps. As such, across time, different cultures found different ways of answering those unanswered questions. Whether it was Egyptian, Greek or Nordic Mythologies or Abrahamic, Indian or East-Asian religions, they have all attempted to satisfy the uncertainties prevalent in their era from simple questions about the sun and the moon to existential issues such as purpose of life, death, salvation. Religion, itself was born from the unknown and the incapacity of solving the unknown.
Until questions and claims can be verified by each religion and until a consensus will be reached, there will differences in thought and practice. For example, as long as you can verify a claim and support it scientifically it will be universally accepted. But when pondering existential questions, especially meaning of life and after-death, issues that have not been answered concretely with evidence, everyone will have a different interpretation, based on individual or communal circumstances. Compared to a couple of centuries ago, now it’s easy to answer questions such as ‘Where does rain come from?’ and you can easily reject answers such as a ‘God’s tears’, since our understanding of physics has allowed to comprehend the mechanisms before it to the extent that we can replicate it in a jar. ‘Make rain’ in a jar and show it to believers in ‘god’s tears’ explanation and they will certainly change their ways of thinking. (hopefully they’ll not cast you a witch and burn you). But when it comes to what happens after death, which is scary for the majority, a consensus is impossible to be found. As long as such questions will ponder humanity there will always be various religions which will attempt to fill the gaps. When science can’t provide people with the answers they desperately need, the majority will turn to religion for ‘help’. It is no wonder then that when some people are diagnosed with terminal conditions they turn to religion as the current science deny them the possibility of a cure either in the hope of a cure or salvation after death. And it’s not abnormal. The human race has been fighting for survival ever since and will keep on, no matter how reasonable or unreasonable its means will be.
That is why religion is here to stay, whether we like it or not and removing it from the picture would simply be impossible. So rather than eliminating it we have to find ways to adapt it to our current era. Religion is not, as many would say, the antonym of science. When all religions will find a consensus then we will know there will be no need for science. Or put it the other way, when science will answer all questions we have, there will be no need for religion. One way or another, sooner or later (a lot later most probably) there will be no need for science or religion as they will be irrelevant concepts. We’ll just have knowledge. But until then both are here to stay. While constructive criticism is an extremely helpful and of utmost importance to our development as human beings, removing religion is simply not an option. While constructive criticisms are of utmost importance to our development, generalizations and attacks against the concept of religion are less likely to prove worthwhile or beneficial.