July 12, 2007

The Poison of Religion

Not very often do I find something worthwhile to read while sitting in a doctor's office. On most occasions I have a book tucked in my back pocket, but today I left Jack Kerouac's On The Road beside the door. So, while Dear Wifey had her pregnant tummy poked and prodded by the doctor, I sat nearby in a chair, reading a very interesting article by Brian Bethune in Maclean's magazine. The article, aptly titled Is God Poison? gives a brief but thorough overview of the rising atheistic movement in North America. And while it is unclear as to whether Bethune is a supporter or not, the movement, aided (though not necessarily in a collaborative sense) by bestselling authors like Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Sam Harris, is pushing to reveal all monotheistic religions for what they believe they are: corrupt, archaic, processes, steeped in violence, that do far more to impede progress and society than they do to help it. While the indictments lie heavily with American Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Catholicism among others, all fall under the same criticism. And rightly so, I say.

The debate over God's existence, influence, ability, and attributes is centuries old. I'd be a fool to imply that I'm some sort of expert on the subject, too. But there is a distinction between the existence of God and the religions created around his existence. And while one can remain agnostic about the former, the latter is, and should be, a necessary topic of continual debate. Regardless of where you sit on the spectrum of theism, you'd have to be completely blind not to see the historic and current negative effects of religion on society.

I grew up surrounded by particular religious opinions, many of which I find no longer workable in my worldview. Where many see religion as the solution to the world's problems, I see it as the root cause. I see sexual obsession, war, prejudice, hatred, and worst of all, a clear and intentional lack of caring for human beings around the world. Of course there are plenty of moderates, people with human conviction and passion and a desire to see change and progress, yet still rallying around their God. But there is a disconcerting fundamentalist side as well (as the article points out), a side that waits with open arms and eager smiles for death. And isn't this the real issue with all monotheistic religions? A fear of death? And a supposed requital of that fear? Interestingly enough, some atheists suggest that it is the moderates who are the most dangerous, for they never truly condemn fundamentalism, allowing it some rightful place on the spectrum of faith. And this is proving to be costly.

When you have religions speaking out against the encouragement of condom usage in Africa to stem the tide of AIDS or when you have religions claiming AIDS is a direct judgment of some Old Testament God, something is amuck. When religions hide pedophiles by moving them from parish to parish without punishment, when they murder Dutch filmmakers on the street for speaking out against their bullshit or hold mass outcries when Danish cartoonists call their irrationality into question, something is really wrong. How about the scare tactics of running "hell-houses" where people are paraded through various rooms to see reenactments of abortions, homosexual intimacy, and then the supposed literal hell and torment that awaits? Or church websites that extol hatred as a virtue (type "God Hates Fags" into Google sometime, and you'll see)?

And my largest concern, how about those that wave a flag and a cross side by side, claiming that their God has given them the right to blow the living shit out of countries somewhere else in the world? A pissing contest for deities, carried out by slack-jawed, pretentious minions. And to do it with such swagger and arrogance. Is no one frightened about the notion of a nuclear-capable, fundamentalist Christian state? Why do we allow them so much power? Why do people refuse to revolt? I think it's because collectively, people wallow in intellectual apathy. To question or seriously debate pushes them out of their comfort zone. There is minimal comfort in blind faith, no matter how absurd. It is always easier to say "oh, it's just God's will" then it is to sit down and talk about change. This article suggests that religion wants death, religion is eagerly awaiting for it because it means the vindication of its beliefs.

And you wonder why peace is so difficult to attain?

Anyways, read the article, Is God Poison? and tell me what you think. None of us are going to be one hundred percent in agreement. But the very nature of debating issues like this is at least a step in the right direction. At least we're not standing on a street corner reciting the four spiritual laws to pedestrians walking by.

The end is near. But likely not in the way you think.