My regulars will likely remember a few times in the past where I mentioned people's ability to recognize satire, highlighting the example of my University's paper's columnist, Brendan Pinto. In the past, I've defended him from people who have grossly misinterpreted his intentions. Today's a bit different, because this time he took on religion.
That's not to say he actually took on religion; rather, his satirical persona did. So in actuality he's either criticizing atheism or arguments against religion. I may have defended him in the past, but that's no reason not to disagree with him now. I have no sacred cows here - only spherical ones. So, let's dig into his article:
If there exists one uniting cultural force that crosses civilizations and connects the vast majority of humankind, it would have to be the hallowed institution of religion.
If there exists one uniting cultural force that crosses civilizations and connects the vast majority of humankind, it would have to be not being Canadian. Yeah, that's a pretty pointless claim, whatever you put in there. Also a bit of an appeal to popularity. Seems he can't help a few of his own beliefs slipping in. Notice how he also called it "hallowed," something most atheists would never do.
A tightly organized and fervently followed set of beliefs, held sacred by hundreds of millions of followers, providing instructions on how to live a moral life via divine revelation. Pffft. What a bunch of A-holes.
Billions of followers, actually. And the instructions are only partly on actual morals, a lot of it is on perceived morals. That is to say, it's instructions just made up to make the followers think they're better than others because they follow these crazy rules and others don't. (Read Leviticus sometime. It's full of ridiculous commandments like "Thou shalt not shave.") I'll agree with the "A-hole" part though. (And note: You're allowed to say "asshole" in a university paper; we're all adults here.)
Co-ordinating the veneration of a deity is and will continue to be the most destructive force on the planet. You need look no further than the billions of lost man-hours and wasted productivity spent in churches, temples, mosques, and whatever the hell scientologists meet in. This doesn’t even begin to include the even longer stretches of time devoted to daily prayers and reflection. With all this time spent not working, you’d think these people were hippies.
Agreed. What exactly was he trying to satirize here, I wonder? Religion is a frakking huge waste of time, and that's one of my big beefs with it.
The most notable violence incited by religion occurred during a horrific series of wars known as the Crusades. These battles were not meant to stop in-fighting among the Christians of Europe following a relative stabilization of its borders and stem the violence the aimless warriors were committing against the peasantry of the West. No, they were started because Jesus, between sermons on peace, love and helping the poor, wanted people to kill all non-Christians for the glory of his name. The Muslim army wasn’t pushing west to expand a growing Empire; it was just following the instructions in the Koran to, and my Arabic is a little weak, quote "slaughter those Jesus lovers." Look it up.
Ah, here we go, some actual arguments. First of all, I'd put the Inquisition and Witch Hunts above the Crusades, and it's a lot harder to defend those. As for the Crusades themselves, there may have been other reasons, but religion was the tool used to mobilize the masses. Crusaders were promised a free ticket into heaven if they died on a crusade. Muslims who die in religious war are promised a free ticket into heaven plus 72 virgins. You think incentives like that don't encourage warfare a bit too much?
As for stopping the in-fighting that was going on, trace it back. What was causing all of that in the first place? Minor religious differences, n'est pas? So, the crusades just refocused the warfare caused by religion. As for the Muslim side, why did they have to expand? It was because their religion commanded them to procreate more than a society with fixed borders could sustain. Religion at fault again.
Religion has been used to spur conflict almost as much as patriotism and ethnic allegiances.
I say while we are abolishing religion, we get rid of the other two as well.
One world government, I like it. If we all live in the same nation, we can't very well declare war on ourselves, now can we? And if we don't have "ethnic allegiances," we also won't have racism. The problem is that we'll lose out on unique cultural contributions to art, but I'm sure you knew this. The thing is, a balance has to be reached somehow.
Even more recently we see the dangers of religion. The scandals involving lewd and lascivious acts of marauding Catholic priests committed against alter boys. If it weren’t for the Catholic Church, we wouldn’t have molestations. The strict moral teachings of religions inevitably lead to these heinous acts.
Let's see, the church demands its priests be perfectly celibate. Masturbation's also a sin, so that's out of the question. That's going to put a lot of pressure on anyone, and it's not surprising that some are going to burst. Of course, there would be pedophiles without the church, but this way it's harder on them. Plus you're giving the ones that already exist an unrivaled opportunity to abuse young boys without fear of reprisal. The church's obsession with upholding its holy image is what caused them to go on a massive cover-up, allowing pedophiles to abuse kids even longer. The church authorities are apparently the most religious people out there, and they care more about maintaining their image than protecting innocent children.
Now the odious religious types would have you believe that it is not the institution, but the individuals who are at fault.
Which might be valid if the institution either knew nothing about it, or did everything they could to stop it. Neither applies here.
They will yammer on about how it is not that the ideas of a religion are harmful, but the exploitation of their influence by those in power to oppress or do harm.
Any idea can be abused. Some tend to be more prone to abuse than others, however. Compare the basic Skeptic's message of "Critical Thinking = Good." That one's pretty hard to abuse. Now look at the basic religious message, appropriate to pretty much every religion, of, "Us = Good. Them = Bad." Yeah, that's not prone to abuse in the slightest. (Don't worry, checks are in the mail to replace any broken sarcasm detectors.)
If this is true, Jesus and Mohammad should have known that their warning to follow God’s laws are going to be taken out of context and kept the message to themselves. Seriously, what kind of a prophet are you if you didn’t see that coming?
More importantly: What kind of god doesn't see this coming? And what kind of god sees it happening and does nothing? That's right, the kind that doesn't actually exist.
Deep in the heart of all religious dogma lie the seeds of hatred waiting to germinate in the rich, fertile potting soil of the idiot population.
Sadly, it's true.
It isn’t just extremism or zealotry. Religion in and of itself is wrong.Because the concept of religion is built upon the idea that the core ‘truths’ espoused by the religion are absolute and immutable, this idea gets extended to every bit of dogma associated with that set of beliefs. This is what makes every religion wrong in every possible way — no exceptions.
Extreme literalism is indeed a problem, as is the cognitive dissonance that it creates when the truths contradict themselves.
You may be asking how I could be so sure about this. I know that I’m right because this can be one of two things — a logical fallacy in the form of a false dichotomy or the unequivocal truth, and since I never speak in false dichotomies, it must be true.
Is it just me, or does that sound a bit too much like something religiosos use to defend their claims to the truth?
As an atheist, I see the harm religion does and know that the only way to make this world a better place is to eliminate it entirely. You know, how that Stalin guy tried to do. Taking the nation he built as an example, we see that eliminating religion will lead us to a Utopia free of suffering and ignorance.
"Stalin was an atheist, therefore atheism is bad." That's one notch removed from an argument ad Nazium. And not a vertical notch, mind you, a horizontal notch. I'm tempted to point out that Hitler himself was quite religious and turned WWII era Germany into something of a theocracy with a few new rules that made the Fuhrer something to be worshipped, but that would be stooping to his level, so I won't.
Unfortunately, we are stuck in this society with all the preachy pious jerk-offs breathing down our necks, day in and day out ,telling us "killing is a sin, lying is a sin, stealing is a sin." Shit, everything is a sin according to someone.
Um, nowadays, religiosos seem to be saying more along the lines of, "Gay is a sin, evolution is a sin, questioning is a sin." And you can say "Shit" but not "Asshole"? What the frak is up with that? (A little satire of my own, if you couldn't tell.)
You can read the entire article here, though I've quoted pretty much the entire thing.
I suspect that this article is going to spawn a lot of hate from religious people who didn't get it. If I can compress my thoughts into about 500 words or so, I might throw them for a loop and send in a letter arguing with the point he actually tried to make.