What Bothers Me the Most about Religion

Recently I commented on a blog which belongs to a Christian. I must admit as far as I have seen he is mostly about how Christianity could be good in a sentimental way, and he himself seems rather naive in his content (but I shall suspend judgment on that, after all I do not have enough information about his state of mind).

I commented on his post  titled “The Faith of Atheism“. I started with a hypothetical example about the statement “If the atheist truly did not believe, he or she would not bother to deny” and then moved to point out why Pascal’s wager (the other part of his post) was rigged. In his response he entirely missed the points I made, and when I made another comment addressing them, I’m fairly sure he erased my comment (though I asked him since I thought I might have forgotten to post it, but have not received an answer to this day).

Now, I do not wish to bash him much, though I think the irony of one putting oneself on a moral high ground but then trying to shut other people out is too much not to mention.

But in his response to my comment he asked a question about what I had said: “May I ask what bothers you about faith, or people of faith?”. Of course I had said “I am bothered and appalled by religion, that’s why I think about it, and that’s why I will keep rejecting it.” One immediately realizes that the question asked is irrelevant to the comment made. “People of faith” do not necessarily bother me, some of them do and some of them don’t. But religion is another story.

I wish to elaborate a little more than my answer to him about this particular question. Aside from the constant harassment from some fundamentalist religious people directed towards gay men and women, and aside from death threats and being called almost all the names in “the book” by the very people who think they are fulfilling their moral duty, I don’t have much problem with “people of faith”. Perhaps a part of this is because I do not tend to have the mindset of collectivism, rendering judgement upon individuals based on the “label” or “tribe” I think they belong to. Some people of faith are purely evil (in a very earthly sense), and some are genuinely good people with a heart.

But, what is it that religion does to its devoted followers that bothers me? Could I name anything that the institution does, and cannot be blamed on small groups of fundamentalists? In other words, the whole issue of: is it just some bad people, or is it religion?

I believe the worst damage that religion does is to morality: Religions are in the business of creating mindless beasts out of ordinary people. When a certain perception of morality in a part of history is hijacked by an authority, every inch of moral progress becomes laboring for the society that bears such surrender of mind. Contrary to what people may think, what we perceive to be “the right thing to do” is not always the same. Never an everlasting “moral law” has been found to be able to determine what is the right thing to do, nor any of the theories that we know about morality are complete.

In the midst of all this, you find those who dare suggesting they have access to what is right and what is not, and more importantly, that knowledge is absolute. The very notion of morality from authority itself is philosophically problematic as Euthyphro dilemma shows. But regardless, to them “Being gay is wrong” is an example of a value that never changes because it has been dictated by their all knowing authority, no matter how much one reasonably argues against it.

And after 40 years of scientific and medical discovery, when finally that one inch of progress is achieved regardless of the tireless resistance of the very same mindless beasts, again they turn and say “Oh wait, that was not what the “real” religion says. Our “real” religion is completely innocent. In fact, it has been saying the very same thing all along!” No it has not. The irony that yet again another set of seemingly “known” values has been hijacked by the same authority is just too great not to cry out for. The same story yet again. Never the question is asked “What if we are wrong?” No. That authority does not allow it.

I believe the notion of “moral hijacking” to be the real harm of religions, particularly Abrahamic ones. Those who gather crowds in churches and mosques and create sheep like followers. Sadly the sheep is far less of a brainless danger than a lot of followers to these religions.

____________________________

Note: I do not think that all who call themselves “Christian” or “Muslim” are mindless beasts. I happen to think that they are not religious if they use reason to judge things as good or bad rather than what is dictated to them.

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thetruthfulheretic

Dear fellow Homo sapiens, or if you prefer conscious mammals! And of course, friends nonetheless: I created my blog in order to speak my very weird mind, mostly about three subjects (as I identify myself and my state of mind with them): Atheism, as I was born in the Middle East and saw and felt the affects of Islam; Homosexuality and equal rights, as a gay man who has tasted the Homophobia and also Sexism in that society; and Liberalism and political philosophy, which I think is a good ground for secular values and criticism of fundamentalism. If you wish, visit and join your state of mind to mine. I hope they don't short circuit!

5 thoughts on “What Bothers Me the Most about Religion”

  1. I tend to agree with you – “moral highjacking” is on top of my list – but absolutism looms over all others; the concept of infallibility has strangled man’s ability to reach his full potential by proselytizing certainties, and thereby closing the book on nature before we have had the chance to read the introduction.

    I occasionally comment on Christian blogs too. What I mostly find is frustration though. For instance, the blogger you mentioned is using a form of logic – Pascal’s Wager – that has been demonstrated to be fallacious numerous times. It becomes even more frustrating when they brush over your points and begin a different line of discussion. I suppose silence on the subject could translate to concession.

    At any rate, I enjoyed this post. Thanks!

    1. I agree, the absolutism that religion brings is devastating to all kinds of progress, philosophical, scientific, moral or social, even conversational: If our Christian friends were not too sure of themselves, they would not have acted as such. It is indeed irritating in all these fronts.

      I’m glad you liked it! And thank you for the comment and feedback.

  2. Hi, you’re right that I deleted your post, and I haven’t had time to respond until now.
    I detected a lot of anger in what you said, and my blog is not an angry place, plus you used a word that I don’t want on there.

    I’m sorry that you’ve had some bad experiences with Christians, and I’m sure in some way you may put this down as one too. Please know though that not all Christians are homophobic (I don’t know any but that’s not to say there aren’t). When I wrote the first post it was to express thoughts and encourage some, but it was never to argue or set myself up on moral high ground as you say. For me the moral high ground is God’s, and I don’t see myself as better than anyone else. I realise that ‘my own experience’ is not an argument but wanted to say why, for me, I am convinced that God is real, and I did offer to elaborate on it.

    I don’t see how this conversation going any further will help to change either of our views but I do genuinely appreciate your first comment on my blog.

    1. Oh funny how I wrote a reply and it was not published in my own blog. (O_o).

      I do not put “this” down as a bad experience with Christians, but Christianity is another story. Believe me this is not a bad experience, it’s actually not. Also remember what I said above about individuals.

      In another note I shall say that dear one, angry or not angry, one has to address the logical issues of another’s statements clearly, something you did not do. If you really believe what you perceive to be true “is” true, then you are prepared to defend it by reason. If not then at best even you yourself do not know “why” your beliefs are right, therefore you would not know by means of reason why you should believe them.

      Whether I’m angry or not (I’m justified to be angry at “religion”) is irrelevant to the truth value of the points I make.

      //

      Thank you for the comment. And please do not give up on reason. At least try.

  3. Reading this I tend to agree with everything you say……. and I hope that one day we (‘society’) will be able to apply the same arguments to that *other* great religion which likes to claim the moral high ground…. statism.

    The religion of statism is even more fanatical and hard to debate than god-based religions because it portrays itself as NOT being a religion at all, even though it obviously is. Your post could just as easily have been about governments and the people who believe in them. Whenever I try to point out to people that governments claim the moral high ground while historically (and currently) being the biggest thieves and murderers on planet earth people also use this ‘yes but’ argument:

    “…. yes but that’s not ‘real’ statism. That’s just statism gone wrong. Real statism works and we couldn’t be civilised without it.”

    As you pointed out, the root problem is our (automatic and blanket) acquiescence to this bizarre thing called ‘authority’. This collective belief (faith) in ‘authority’ allows those ‘in’ authority to claim the monopolistic moral and legal right to initiate force against us to achieve their aims, which they usually manage to convince us are also our aims (and are thus they are acting ‘for the collective good of society’).

    Our collective faith in ‘authority’ is so dangerous and destructive because we end up allowing those in authority to impose morality onto us by force, while blatantly violating those same moral rules themselves.

    Historically speaking, we have only recently started to break free of this bizarre concept of ‘automatic authority’ when it comes to god-based religions. Working in a fancy building, wearing special robes and badges and claiming to speak and act on behalf of a ‘god’ does not give anyone the moral or legal right to collect taxes by force or dictate other people’s lives by force (certainly not in the way it once did anyway).

    And in the same way we will eventually see the day when working in a fancy building, wearing special robes and badges and claiming to speak and act on behalf of a ‘government’ will not give anyone the moral or legal right to collect taxes by force or dictate other people’s lives by force.

    As with most things parenting has a lot to do with it. A generation raised WITHOUT their parents using violence and the ‘authority’ argument (“do as I say because I said so!”) would result in a generation who grow up unable to understand the language of authority. And so when a priest or a politician tries to tell them that “the world is like this” or that “they must do that” they will be incapable of conforming or rebelling….or obeying or disobeying……… instead they will view ‘authority figures’ in the same way they view everybody else they come across in daily life. They will hear *opinions* rather than *orders*.

    Contrary to what most people think, only when we get rid of this religious faith in ‘authority figures’ can society FINALLY have rules (society has no rules at the moment, only rulers which is NOT the same thing!)

    And then the world will finally become a civilised place 🙂

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