When I think of reasons not to believe in God a question always comes to my mind: Do religious beliefs do more harm than good? I have concluded that they do and the reasons why I believe this is the bedrock to this article.
In the present climate of Islamaphobia, it would be easy to cite recent terrorist atrocities committed by fundamentalist zealots as an argument to why religious beliefs do more harm than good. However, the idea that these acts are motivated solely by a religious creed is a fallacy, one which is being promoted by the west in its efforts to polarize global opinion and promulgate the myth of a ‘clash of civilizations’. Al Qaeda was founded on political objectives, not religious ones, and was a reaction to the inequality and brutality of the Saudi Arabian regime. Due to the fact that the west overlooks the human rights abuses of the undemocratic Saudi ruling powers and supports them through oil and arms trading, Bin Laden proclaims that we are a legitimate target. The capitalist policies that have been aggressively imposed on poorer nations by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have created a disenfranchised and disillusioned population, trapping them in poverty with little hope of escape. These desperate individuals are perfect recruitment fodder for the likes of Al Qaeda, who use religion as an indoctrination tool to instill some meaning into the lives of the profoundly hopeless. This is by no means an apology for Islamic fundamentalism, but a credible explanation as to why individuals may turn to religion and commit barbaric acts of inhumanity in its name.
The Easy Target
Islam is an easy target, and quite rightly so, for arguing for the harm caused by religious beliefs, with its appalling disregard for women’s rights being a prime example, but it is quite easy to argue that all other major religions do more harm than good. The oppression of the Palestinians by the Jews would not be taking place if the Israelis didn’t believe they had a God-given right to occupy the ‘Holy Land’. The spread of AIDS in Africa has been exacerbated by the Catholic Church who was responsible for a campaign of lies claiming that HIV infection can be transferred through the rubber of condoms. The assassination of abortion clinic staff in America is another good example of the destructive nature of religious belief. In fact, with there being so many examples of brutality committed in God’s name, it seems that there is now no reasonable justification for religion in the modern world.
Religion had its purpose 2000 years ago when Gods were necessary to explain natural phenomena, such as lightning. We now know that lightning comes from electrons in clouds interacting with the ground so we no longer need to attribute this feat of nature to supernatural causes. Scientific knowledge will continue to fill in the gaps, rendering the need for a belief that ‘God did it’ redundant. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of people who want to cling to their primitive superstitions and curtail human progress. Unbelievably, there are some who believe that the bible is the actual and literal word of God. These texts, some of which were written 200 years after the death of Jesus, have been amended, translated and re-translated so many times that even religious scholars now agree that the statements and deeds in the bible have an accuracy of less than 20 percent. Regardless, if we accepted that the bible was the word of God then it’s a good starting point to argue against religion. The bible is a truly horrible book. It racks up a gruesome body count of nearly 2.5 million. It advocates slavery, abuse of women and the killing of disobedient children. Those that argue that it is the ‘good book’ have clearly never read it. Perhaps the best argument that Christianity is a load of mumbo-jumbo is the story of Adam of Eve. No self-respecting Christian believes this literal account of how man was created, with the Catholic Church now accepting evolution as fact. But if there was no Adam and Eve, there was no Garden of Eden and no talking snake, therefore, no Original Sin, no Fall of Man, no reason for God to appear as his own son and be used for appeasement for his own mistakes on the cross.
Human beings don’t need some belief in the super-natural to lead a ‘good’ life, despite claims by religious die-hards. Atheism is not a belief system and thus is devoid of moral claims, much like the theory of gravity. No one does good or evil in the name of atheism. Most atheists don’t claim that atheism provides better moral behavior but rather that religion does not provide a better moral framework, and indeed in a lot of cases, it provides a framework for significantly less ethical behavior. Yet most atheists will tolerate religious beliefs and support the rights of individuals’ freedom of expression. Unfortunately, the same thing can’t be said for most religionists.
Why should we respect and tolerate backward faiths that have no grounding in logic or reason?
It’s about time there was a backlash to the corrosive and delusional scourge that is religion. Why should we respect and tolerate these backward faiths that have no grounding in logic or reason? It is not acceptable that the evil religious nuts behind the website ‘godhatesfags.com’ are protected by the law. Without religion to hide behind these scumbags would be prosecuted for hate crimes. It is not acceptable that hundreds of children in America spend their summer holidays in religious camps, being filled with fear, forced to speak in tongues, and brain-washed with fundamentalist dogma, as depicted in the 2006 documentary ‘Jesus Camp’. This mental abuse should be outlawed. These children will be psychologically scarred for life, much in the same way if they were physically or sexually abused – a practice which unfortunately has been associated with some Catholic priests.
It is time to fight against religion. It is time to stop defending the indefensible. It is time to evolve. Amen.