Is religion holding back humanity?

I’ve been thinking about this question for some time, and it’s become evident through my interactions with many theists on social media, that their mindset and opinions aren’t relevant in the modern world. Allow me to elaborate on what I mean. Over the past 50 years, it’s become more acceptable to be LBGT, and employers, and society in general have been more accepting and accommodating towards people who’s sexuality differs from heterosexuality. Women have gained equality in the western world, and whilst there’s still work to be done, they essentially have the same rights as males. As society becomes more cosmopolitan, and culturally diverse, racial tensions are disappearing, and people are living in an equilibrium together. You can walk through any city and see many different people from many different walks of life, and you can hear many people speaking in different tongues, and they just blend in.

Many countries in Europe are gradually adopting secularist views, as religion has had a tight grip over governments for thousands of years, and things like humanist weddings and funerals, LBGT weddings, assisted dying, abortion rights, and civil liberties have become focused on much more, but beside it is religions attempting to drag everything back into the Dark Ages where literary, economic and scientific advancement barely gained any traction, and the church had absolute control over society. The more devout the people of faith are, the least likely they are to accept the evidence of the reality they live in, and because of their selfish intolerance, they believe that society should suit just their needs, rather than the needs of the majority.

FAITH BEFORE REASON

The more reasonable and rational theists openly admit that despite them having faith, religion, especially of the fundamental evangelical variety, is harmful to society. There was a case of an abortion controversy in America several years ago, and it involved a mother of four, who was eleven weeks pregnant and had pulmonary complications and was going to die. She reluctantly had the abortion to save her life, and allow her existing four children to keep their mother, but she was severely condemned by local preachers as why was her life more important that the barely developed foetus. Their religious faith got in the way of their reason, and if she hadn’t have had the abortion, both she and the foetus would have died, and the four children would have become motherless. There’s another story, also in America where a family denied their three year old child the medication it required as they believed a god would protect them, and he was the only medicine needed. It died a slow and agonising death, yet the society they lived in allowed this to happen as they were within the crazed Bible Belt.

SCIENCE AND RELIGION

It’s true that the scientific method was indeed formalised by a theist, Sir Francis Bacon, but does that mean that at no point throughout the history of mankind that a non theist would have created a fool proof way of studying science? This is an argument from ignorance, as at the time the majority of society was religious, as it was expected. It was the norm shall we say. The Catholic Church held back the advancements in science for years, and an Italian Catholic scientist, Galileo dared to put forward the idea that the universe was heliocentric and not geocentric, and he was charged with heresy. In the famous words of Yuri Gagarin when he became the first human to visit space I looked and looked but I didn’t see God.

IS RELIGION HARMFUL TO SOCIAL ACCEPTANCE?

In my mind there’s absolutely no doubt that fundamental faith is dangerous to society as a whole. God was created in a time when people were ignorant, it’s that simple. They didn’t understand the world around them. They had no concept of the universe, and of the science of physics, biology and chemistry. They didn’t know what evolution was, or DNA, or the laws of physics or motion. Anything they couldn’t explain they put it down to God’s will. If their crops had a successful harvest, they thanked god. If their child was born healthy, they thanked god. If their child became sick, they prayed, and if it recovered, they thanked god. God became a convenient answer, but how has this mentality survived in an age when we know so much?

Fundamental religions often take the words of their holy books literally, and interpret it in a way that suits their narrative. Take human rights as a perfect example. The Christians and the Muslims formed trade routes throughout Africa. The Muslims took slaves to the East, the Christians took slaves to the West, and even though society considered slavery unacceptable (eventually), it was many years after slavery was abolished, that African Americans were given suffrage and equality rights, and to this day, racism is deeply rooted within the Bible Belt. Women have had to fight for equality, which was held back by religious beliefs, as was rights for homosexuality. Then there’s the intolerance that many religions have for other faiths, where Islam consider anyone not a Muslim as an infidel. Some religions deny certain medical care, like blood transfusions for Jehovah’s Witnesses, or exorcisms for mentally sick people. Flat Earth conspiracists, and anti-vaccers are mostly people of faith, as are child groomers and modern terrorists. Some religions normalise violence and support severe punishments like public execution by stoning, firing squad, crucifixion, hanging and decapitation. There is no place for this type of mentality in a society that is looking towards the stars. Superstition, and the occult is thankfully dying out in the majority of civilised countries, and I very much welcome a new age of critical thinkers where faith is replaced by fact, and superstition is replaced by science.

IS RELIGION A POLITICAL TOOL?

Undoubtedly and without question. Religion is about controlling the subjects of the land, through fear of retribution by god if they sin. Religion has always used its influence to manipulate and create laws that benefit them, regardless of the impact it has on other faiths, or non believers. Religion has been used throughout the ages to justify war, and the assimilation of land. When Christianity first arrived in Europe, many theologists claimed it was to promote Christianity, but this is nonsense. It was about power, controlling land and gaining wealth, just like the Crusades were. They waged wars, and left with gold and jewels which they robbed from their victims. The battles between Israel and Palestine is because fundamental Jews believe the land is theirs because Abraham gave it to them. American Presidents say God bless to their military before they send them into conflict, even when it’s about oil, or riches, or political advantage for America, especially when their agenda is communism, which they used as a ploy to support the Khmer Rouge after they’d committed genocide on Cambodian citizens. America uses God as an excuse to arm yourself to the teeth, as it’s your God given right to bear arms, and it’s a multi billion dollar business.

The theocratic revolution in Iran, and the destabilisation of Iraq due to the quest to remove Saddam Hussein and find weapons of mass destruction, has created a domino effect throughout the Middle East, where ISIL and ISIS are using the west’s involvement as a reason to justify world wide terrorism. The dreadful years of apartheid in South Africa was fuelled by white supremacy and racial intolerance, and the leaders of the National party claimed they were ordained by God to rule the lands, and this is how they gained their support for so many years.

“The Scriptures have been misused to defend bloody crusades and inquisitions; to support slavery, apartheid, and segregation; to sanction the physical and emotional abuse of women and children; to persecute Jews and other non-Christian people of faith; to support the holocaust of Hitler’s Third Reich; to oppose medical science; to condemn inter-racial marriage; to execute women as witches; to excuse the violent racism of the Ku Klux Klan; to mobilize militias, white supremacy and neo-nazi movements; and to condone intolerance and discrimination against sexual minorities.” – Mel White

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