Wednesday, September 1, 2010

You Can't Argue...

...with religious belief.  Like the clinically deluded, the faithful will say almost anything to maintain their illusion, but pathological delusion is defined as a concept or value held with certainty that is not credible, that is: based on expert, accurate information. Neutral, average people might understandably regard belief in supernatural beings with superior intelligence and magical abilities to intervene in natural reality as qualifying under such a definition.

The "nice" people of faith try to say that militants "misinterpret" holy texts.  They claim: "our holy books teach peace", which like all lies is technically true, but completely misleading.  Hitler loved puppies...so he teaches love?

What religious apologists for the "nice" religion cannot do is point to a single instruction in their holy books that says how one is to interpret either conflicting commands about what the monotheistic deity wants, or clear commands to commit violence, even murder and mass slaughter or genocide by war.  Yahweh's Torah clearly orders Jews to "Pour out your wrath on the nations that do not acknowledge you".  Christianity's God of the Bible, in Deuteronomy 17 states that followers must to "stone unto death" any "man or woman that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the LORD thy God" while in Surah 8:39 of the Qur'an, Allah commands "Make war on them until unbelief is no more".  The most common justification for disobeying these is that "you have to interpret them based on the time they were written".  It's too bad these apologists don't apply that rule consistently.  Gods were great explanations when we had no science, no logic, and we thought we lived on a disk under a dome at the center of everything in a small universe.  We had no knowledge that dynamic, solar-driven atmospheric conditions cause violent weather, floods and drought.  No one imagined that the microscopic germs cause disease, plague and rot had control of us, and yet these microbes keep us able to digest food.  Only about a hundred years ago, scientists were attacked for suggesting that tectonic forces acting on crustal plates create earthquakes, and life evolves based on complex interactions of molecules and environment. 

Jews, Christians and Muslims cannot face the fact that the reason they have been unable to be consistent religions of peace and love is because the texts defining dogma include commands to violence, lack any means for correcting mistakes, and new crops of people come along who take the texts seriously and really believe them, rather than simply professing belief.  While its hard to call such belief in killing "noble", it does have virtue of consistency between doctrine, professed belief, and actions.  In modern society however, unreasonable group beliefs like religion, political party, patriotism, and similar emotional affiliations seem to be corrosive and anathema to happiness, justice, equality, and prosperity. 

If we look at the least religious countries on the planet (e.g: Denmark, Sweden, Norway) we see high levels of societal health: low rates of violent crime and poverty, low infant mortality, high literacy, high levels of educational attainment generally, high per capita income and gender equality. 

On the other hand, highly religious countries where education in science, the nature of reality and philosophy are dangerously subversive to holy revelation, we see overpopulation, poverty, illiteracy, racial and sexual discrimination and exploitation - along with many related  and other injustices we would normally consider *evil*.

In order to live in a civilized world now, religions' presence forces us to do things that don't seem to make much sense.  For example: people who unethically and hypocritically ignore divine commands to murder in their religious texts they claim to uphold are considered acceptable, while those who consistently try to obey them are condemned as fanatics.

In truth, monotheistic religions are like the flat earth model: a spectacularly successful advance for society thousands of years ago - but like fears of the left-handed, such beliefs are best left in the past.

2 comments:

Mike Torr said...

Very succinctly put, and so true. I think it was Ghandi who said "First they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." Let's hope this is true of the scientific world view's battle against irrationality.

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