Would humanity be better off without religion?

I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot of late, and as someone who’s on the verge of anti-theism, it’s of course going to be a biased view.

Would humanity be better off without religion?

Of course religion isn’t all bad. It gives people comfort and hope, and supports them through hardships in their life, but do people really need it? I’m 45 and never had any form of religion in my life. If you need support, or help that’s where family and friends come into play.

If I’m feeling down, or indecisive about something I turn to my wife, or my family. How exactly is an invisible, imaginary friend ever going to help anyone? It’s too easy to say ‘It’s all part of God’s plan‘ , or ‘God gives us hardships to make us stronger‘.

I’ve read people accepting the death of a family member because God decided it was the right time for them to leave, despite them suffering without dignity and agony throughout an illness that was always going to kill them.

As a Humanist I find it quite hideous that someone is prepared to let a loved family member suffer because it’s what God wanted. That’s why I fully support Humanists UK’s campaign to make assisted dying legal, so people can end their life when they choose, rather than becoming a shadow of their former self and dying with no dignity.

Public ethical issues that Humanists support and many religions oppose are assisted dying, abortion and other sexual and reproductive rights, human tissues, organ donation, homeopathy, animal welfare, and the genital mutilation of children.

One of the biggest debates of late, especially in the U.S is abortion, and the big story has been Alabama’s stance. A few weeks ago I asked a fundamentalist Christian this:

If a 12 year old girl, on her way home from school, was dragged into an alleyway and brutally gang-raped, should she have the right to have an abortion?

The answer was ‘No, all life is important‘. Whilst I don’t disagree with this stance, and all life is important, should there be exceptions?

The young girl, who’s been raped is going to be mentally scarred for probably the rest of her life, and if she was to have the child, would the sight of the baby constantly remind her of the ordeal. Could she ever love it?

I quote End of week 8. The embryo becomes a fetus, all structures present in rudimentary form. Attention anti-choice advocates: before this the prenatal human is not a fetus.

Many doctors don’t accept that an embryo between 4 and 6 weeks is a life form. If the pregnancy is discovered early enough, shouldn’t the girl be allowed the choice to terminate?

These same pro-life people who are so passionate about the unborn, undeveloped baby, are the ones who are extremely anti-LBGT. Life is important until it goes against the rules of the Bible. This is an extreme example of hypocrisy. If you claim that all life is important you can’t then pick and choose because of standards set in a book that’s thousands of years old.

This is where the moral stance of religion comes into question. Christians, as an example, claim that you can’t have objective morality without God, and the Bible, yet many find LBGT, other religions and atheist disgusting, or sinners. I’ve been told more than once that I’m subhuman being for being an atheist. Incidentally this is exactly what Hitler and the Nazi’s said about non-Aryans. (Untermensch). I’ve already covered the similarity between Christians and Nazi’s in a previous blog entry.

As well as many religions despising LBGT, they are often extremely racist towards other cultures that share a different faith, and misogyny is rife. Women are classed as second-class citizens and this is most prominent in Islam. The religion that claims it’s the most peaceful is perhaps one of the most damaging.

‘Islam (Arabic: الإسلام‎‎, IPA: [alʔisˈlaːm]) is a verbal noun originating from the triliteral root S-L-M which forms a large class of words mostly relating to concepts of wholeness, submission, safeness, and peace. In a religious context it means “voluntary submission to God”.

Let’s focus on the last few words. ‘Voluntary submission to God’, yet some of the younger, more westernised Muslims admit that they were taught from a young age never to question their faith. Doesn’t sound very ‘voluntary to me’. Families and communities will literally disown people that turn away from Islam. I know a woman that still considers herself a Muslim, still follows its rules but her family turned their back on her when she married a Christian.

I don’t understand the thought process when you’re prepared to disown a family member in favour of faith and a God. Islam doesn’t have the same value of life as many non-believers, as if it did, their family would always come first.

Islam, and especially Sharia Law is, let’s be honest here, brutal. In countries that adhere to Sharia Law people have taken things into their own hands and murdered homosexuals and people if different faiths. A man wouldn’t think twice about beating his wife in public if she spoke to another man, or even stood too close. Public flogging is an everyday occurrence in states like Saudi Arabia.

As well as public flogging, there’s beheading under Shariah Law which is usually performed in public, by cowards who’s face is generally covered to protect their identity.

“Beheading was the normal method of executing the death penalty under classical Islamic law. It was also, together with hanging, one of the ordinary methods of execution in the Ottoman Empire.

Currently, Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world which uses decapitation within its Islamic legal system. The majority of executions carried out by the Wahhabigovernment of Saudi Arabia are public beheadings‘.

Saudi law theoretically allows the death penalty for many crimes:

  • Apostasy
  • Treason
  • Homosexuality
  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Terror
  • Drug smuggling
  • Armed robbery
  • Blasphemy
  • Burglary if aggravated circumstances, including recidivism
  • Adultery  (Unmarried adulterers can be sentenced to 100 lashes, married ones can be sentenced to stoning
  • Sorcery or witchcraft
  • Waging war on God

I’m sure you’ll agree that some of these crimes are bad, and are potentially worthy of the death penalty, or at least a life in prison, but some of them like homosexuality, adultery and blasphemy certainly aren’t worthy of the death sentence.

Methods of execution in Islamic countries vary and can include beheading, firing squad, hanging and stoning. In some countries public executions are carried out to heighten the element of deterrence.

In Geneva, on 28th April 2005, there was a call for a moratorium on corporal punishment, stoning and death penalty. This was, however, rejected by the Legal Research Commission of the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the world’s leading Islamic learning centre.

Islam has never had any officially recognized tradition of pacifism, and throughout its history warfare has been an integral part of the Islamic theological system. Since the time of Muhammad, Islam has considered warfare to be a legitimate expression of religious faith, and has accepted its use for the defense of Islam. This is extremely notable in organisations that proclaim Jihad (جهاد) and martyrdom against the west. Groups like ISIS, Boko Haram, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda have relied on particular interpretations of the tenets of the Quran and the Hadith, citing these scriptures to justify violent tactics including mass murder, mass genocide, abduction, slavery, sexual exploitation and hijacking.

Whilst I have focused on the negative side of Islam, there doesn’t seem to be too many positives looking in from the outside. Eastern states that are predominantly Islamic are essentially regimes controlled by cruel dictators.

I read earlier that religious people don’t respect the world we are in and this is because they are only here temporarily, as this life is all about preparation to being judged by God and being accepted into the eternal afterlife. Many non-believers are vegan, vegetarian and animal rights supporters, whereas many religious people simply don’t seem to care as God put animals on the Earth for their food.

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
[And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.”

I had a debate on Twitter with someone I’m sure you’re all familiar with, and he asked me why should I care about the world if in a short time I won’t be here to enjoy it, so why try and preserve life, or try and repair the damage man has done to it, or to give the future of humanity a better world than when I joined it.

With that kind of attitude, and everything else that I’ve skimmed the surface of, I truly believe the world would be a safer, fairer and more compassionate place without religion. As a Humanist it’s about putting people before faith, and putting life before God.

“Humanists are people who shape their own lives in the here and now, because we believe it’s the only life we have. We make sense of the world through logic, reason, and evidence, and always seek to treat those around us with warmth, understanding, and respect.

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